A Rustic Fall Dinner

{photo from Williams-Sonoma}

We had a special group of friends over for a dinner meeting last week. As the temperature has dropped in the evenings here, it is now the perfect time for hearty, one-pot meals. On the menu was this delicious beef and stout pie I discovered in a Williams-Sonoma catalog. The pie was complemented by a cranberry-pear-pecan-and-feta salad, baked brie en croute with a cranberry-blueberry chutney, crusty bread, and mashed potatoes. Dinner was followed by an apple tart made with rum-soaked golden raisins. The meal was rustic, made only more charming by the warmth of good company.

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Beef and Stout Pie my version, adapted from the Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

Ingredients:

7 Tbs. olive oil 1 lb. white button mushrooms, quartered 2 cups chopped yellow onion 1 1/2 cups diced celery Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 3 1/2 lb. beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes 1 cup all-purpose flour 3 garlic cloves, minced 2 Tbs. tomato paste 2 1/2 cups Guinness Irish Stout 1 cup beef broth 1 lb. carrots, cut into chunks 1 lb. potatoes, cut into chunks 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh thyme One large pie pastry 1 cup crumbled blue cheese 1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp. water Directions: In a 5 1/2-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the mushrooms, onions, celery, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Season the beef with salt and pepper. Dredge the beef in the flour, shaking off the excess. In the Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add one-third of the beef and brown on all sides, about 7 minutes total. Transfer to a separate bowl. Add 1/2 cup water to the pot, stirring to scrape up the browned bits. Pour the liquid into a separate bowl. Repeat the process 2 more times, using 2 Tbs. oil to brown each batch of beef and deglazing the pot with 1/2 cup water after each batch.

Return the pot to medium-high heat. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Add the beef, stout, broth and reserved liquid, stirring to scrape up the browned bits. Add the mushrooms, onions, carrots, potatoes and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beef and vegetables are tender, about 3 hours.

**Update: I've been making this recipe mostly in the oven. I simmer on stovetop for only 30 minutes, and then transfer to oven at 300F for 2.5 hours. If making with the crust, I follow the directions for the crust:

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

Roll out your pie crust to 1/4 in. thickness.  Crumble blue cheese on top half the pie crust.  Fold in half, and roll again, pressing the blue cheese between both layers of pastry.  Roll and shape to 1/4 in. thickness and diameter of dutch oven.

Brush the rim of the pot with water. Lay the pastry round on top, allowing it to droop onto the filling. Trim the dough, leaving a 1-inch overhang, and crimp to seal. Brush the pastry with the egg mixture, then cut 4 slits in the top of the dough. Bake for 30 minutes. Let the potpie rest for 15 minutes before serving. Serves 8 to 10.