We’re calling this a braised beef pot pie. Actually, it’s an amazing beef stew that can be served with a topping of flaky puffed pastry. The whole thing is enriched with red wine and spends quite a bit of time in the oven. The final result is exceptional.
You’ll be using flat iron steak. For those of you not familiar with this particular cut of meat, it actually comes from the shoulder of the steer. To be more specific, it’s from the primal cut called the chuck, the muscle group called the shoulder clod, and the muscle called the top blade. Because it’s from the shoulder, the chuck gets a whole lot of work, so the resulting meat is generally quite lean and tough, with lots of connective tissue (which is why it’s such a popular cut for braising). The top blade, however, retains that leanness but doesn’t have much connective tissue to speak of, so it results in a very tender and flavorful steak. No need to worry about all of this technical stuff. Bottom line …when this beef is ready to eat, it literally melts in your mouth.
The first step is to trim and cut the steak into manageable pieces and season them well on both sides with salt and pepper. Choose a large Dutch oven or heavy pot that will comfortably hold 4 to 5 quarts. And it must be oven-safe. I always use my Le Creuset Cast Iron Deep Sauté Pan. It is an exclusive item found only at Williams-Sonoma. These guys are expensive but so worth it, especially if you have good timing and are able to catch a sale.
Set the browned beef aside and remove the excess oil from the pot. Just be sure to let the browned bits stay …they’re loaded with flavor. If you don’t have your vegetables cleaned and prepped yet, now is the time to get them ready. They should be on the chunky side since they’ll be spending lots of time in the oven.
Melt the butter in the pan with the beef drippings and add all of your veggies along with the fresh rosemary and bay leaves. After cooking them on the stovetop for about 10 minutes, the tomato paste is added. Blend it in with the veggie mixture and cook for another few minutes, then the wine is poured over the whole thing.
Allow the liquid to cook down to about half which will take about 8 to 10 minutes.
Now it’s time to add the beef back into the mix. Gently tuck each piece into a nest of veggies so that the meat is evenly distributed. Now add the beef broth and bring the mixture back to a boil. Cover the pot and carefully transfer your creation to a preheated oven. This is where the magic happens. The beef will braise in the oven for almost three hours.
When the braised beef is almost done, you can get started on preparing the puff pastry “lids.” These are super easy to make, especially since we’re using frozen puff pastry sheets. Give them a few minutes to thaw out on the counter before unrolling the sheets. Then you’ll need a bowl that is similar in size to the bowls that you’ll be using to serve the braised beef. Invert the bowl on the sheet of pastry so that it leaves a slight impression. That will be your guide for cutting the rounds of dough. To avoid wastefulness, I cut the excess dough into strips to bake along with the discs.
When the beef is removed from the oven, the temp is increased. While the oven is preheating, brush the top of each piece of dough with a bit of egg wash. These guys will then bake for about 10 minutes.
Carefully remove the beef to a separate dish and give it a minute or two to cool off a bit. With a fork, gently break apart each piece of beef into small bite-size chunks. Add the beef back into the pot and gently fold it back into the mixture.
This can be presented as individual servings as each bowl of braised beef is topped off with a cap of flaky puff pastry.
Or if you’re more into family-style, leave the beef in the pot and arrange the puff pastry rounds on top so that everyone can grab their own.
Another suggestion – try this with homemade fries or roasted potato wedges. The tender braised beef pairs so well with crispy potatoes. Just a thought.
braised beef pot pie
Adapted from Food & Wine
Rich beef stew topped off with crispy puff pastry.
- 2 1/2 pounds flat iron steak (cut into pieces of about 3" by 5")
- kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 2 to 3 carrots, peeled & cut into 1" pieces (about 8 ounces)
- 1 red onion, cut into 1" wedges (about 8.5 ounces)
- 1 parsnip, peeled & cut into 1" pieces (about 5.5 ounces)
- 1 rutabega, peeled & cut into 1" pieces (about 11 ounces)
- 1 large celery stalk, cut into 1" pieces
- 8 ounces small cremini mushrooms, halved
- 8 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 rosemary sprig (about 6 inches)
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
- 1 quart beef stock or broth
- 2 puff pastry sheets, thawed if frozen (about 16 ounces)
- 1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
Preheat oven to 340°F. Season beef generously with salt & pepper. In a large Dutch oven or heavy ovenproof pot, heat the oil over moderately high heat. Add the beef and cook, turning occasionally until browned all over, about 12 minutes. Transfer beef to a plate; drain oil from pot and discard oil.
Return pot to moderately high heat and add butter. Melt the butter, scraping up and mixing in the browned bits remaining in the pot. Add the carrots, onion, parsnip, rutabaga, celery, mushrooms, garlic, rosemary, and bay leaves. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 10 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes. Add wine and boil until the liquid is reduced by half, about 8 minutes.
Return the beef and any accumulated juices to the pot. Add the stock or broth. Bring to a boil. Cover and transfer to the preheated oven. Braise until the beef is very tender, about 2 hours and 45 minutes. Carefully remove the beef from the braising liquid to a separate dish and let cool slightly. Using a fork, break the beef into bite-size pieces and return to the pot. Season, if necessary, with salt & pepper.
Increase oven temperature to 400°. Using the top of a 5-inch bowl as a guide, cut 6 rounds from the pastry. Transfer rounds to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Brush pastry with the egg wash. Bake until the pastry is golden, about 10 to 12 minutes. Cool.
Ladle the hot stew into bowls and top each with a pastry round. Serve immediately.