Pot pies are a great way to repurpose leftover meats and stews. Decant the leftovers into a pie dish and arrange a sheet of pastry on top. But this pot pie is different. It's a showstopper all on its own. Beneath the layer of crumbly, buttery pastry is a luscious short rib stew rich with the gentle tang of red wine. Tip: start with great meat and wine and you’ll have a stew fit for Christmas dinner. Admittedly, making this requires plenty of effort. But the reward is a delicious, full-flavoured stew that’s good enough to eat on its own. With the pastry, you want to work quickly. Don’t overwork the crust when kneading and rolling it out, and if you’re lucky enough to have air-conditioning in your kitchen, use it. Keeping your hands and environment cool will make handling the pastry easier. For extra help, check out Youtube tutorials on rolling out pastry before giving it a whirl.
Serves 4 - 6 pax
For the pastry:
2¾ cups plain flour
1 tsp salt
200g cold salted butter, diced
¼ cup ice-cold water
For the filling:
1.5kg boneless US prime short rib, cut into 2.5 inch pieces (try Huber's Butchery)
sea salt and pepper to taste
½ cup plain flour
2 - 3 tbsp vegetable oil
280g pearl onions, peeled
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 carrots, sliced
2 tbsp tomato paste
750ml dry red wine (like a cabernet sauvignon)
3 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs rosemary
2 bay leaves
1L beef stock
30 butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp plain flour
1 egg yolk
For the pastry:
1. Begin one day ahead. To make pastry, place the flour, salt and butter in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal, like rolled oats.
2. Drizzle the water into the bowl while pulsing until the dough is evenly moist, not wet or shaggy. It should just hold together when you press a handful of it into a ball.
3. Gather the dough into a large ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. This dough can be made ahead and frozen for up to a month.
For the filling:
4. To make the filling, season short ribs generously with salt and pepper, and toss to coat with the half cup of flour on a rimmed baking tray.
5. Heat oil in a large heavy oven-proof pot over medium-high heat. Working in two or three batches, shake excess flour from the beef and cook, turning occasionally, until deeply brown on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes per batch. Remove meat from the pot and transfer to a large bowl.
6. Add onions, garlic and carrots to the pot. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring until they all turn golden brown. About 5 minutes.
7. Add the tomato paste and stir to mix. Cook for another 5 minutes, then remove all the ingredients from the pan and transfer to a large bowl.
8. Pour the wine into the pot and bring to a boil over high heat, scraping up the browned bits at the bottom of the pot. Reduce heat to medium and allow wine to reduce to half of its original amount, about 20 minutes.
9. Meanwhile, tie the thyme, rosemary and bay leaves together with cooking string. Preheat oven to 145°C.
10. When the wine has reduced, place the herbs into the pot along with the vegetables and beef.
11. Add the beef stock and stir to mix. Bring to a boil, then cover the pot and place in the oven for 2.5 hours till beef is tender. Allow to cool completely.
12. Place the cooled pot of braised short ribs into the fridge and chill overnight.
13. The next day, scrape off and discard the layer of fat that has hardened on top.
14. Gently reheat the braise until its liquid has melted and you can remove all its contents with a slotted spoon, leaving the liquid behind in the pot. Transfer the contents to a large bowl.
15. Now, bring the braising liquid to a boil over medium-high heat and allow it to reduce slightly (to about a quarter less than its original volume).
16. While the sauce is reducing, mix the butter with the 2 tbsp flour in a small bowl, using a fork to form a smooth paste.
17. When the sauce has reduced, whisk in the flour mixture, one tablespoon at a time, to the pot. Continue cooking over medium-high heat, until the sauce is shiny and has thickened.
18. Turn off the heat and return all the ingredients to the pot. Stir to mix and taste. Add more salt and pepper if necessary. Set aside till completely cooled.
1. To assemble the pie, preheat oven to 190°C. Spoon the filling into an 11-inch, shallow pie dish and then roll the pastry out on a floured surface to about 5mm thick.
2. Cover the surface of the pie dish with the pastry and press down to seal the perimeter of the pie dish. Trim any overhanging pastry with a sharp knife. Cut a slit in the centre of the pie to allow steam to escape while it bakes (we used a pie vent).
3. Roll out the remaining pastry to about 3mm thick and stamp out leaves and holly (or whatever shapes you please) using the necessary cookie cutters. Arrange the pastry shapes gently on top of the first layer of pastry.
4. In a small bowl, mix the egg yolk with a drop of water using a fork. Brush this egg wash all over the surface of the pie.
5. Bake in the oven for about 40 – 50 minutes, or until the crust is nice and golden.
Photo by Ealbert Ho