Winter is finally here, and although it’s not as cold down here in Texas, we just spent a long weekend in Chicago where we became all too familiar with its extremes. All we could think about under all those layers of sweaters and scarves were long days hovering over the stove when we returned. There is something tremendously comforting about a long-cooking stew on the stove when the temperatures are dropping.
We’ve received a major new addition to our kitchen recently. Sur La Table was kind enough to send us a 5.75 quart Staub Coq au Vin available from their new and exclusive all-white collection. We have been dreaming about this pot since we laid eyes on it. It’s already become a workhorse in our kitchen. It goes without saying that cooking with it is a dream! The heat distribution is amazing. It’s definitely the Rolls-Royce of our cookware, and we had been itching to put it to use.
The first thing we made in the dutch oven was this pot pie stew. Full of mushrooms and root vegetables, it was the perfect thing to use up left-over ingredients and warm us up on a wintery Sunday evening. We highly recommend you try this recipe while it’s still pot-pie season!
Beef Spice Rub (see recipe below)
2 1/2 lb stew beef, lean
3 slices of thick cut bacon, diced
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 medium carrots, sliced (half circles)
2 celery stalks, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp of flour
1 tbsp of tomato paste
1 – 12oz bottle of dark beer
2 cups of beef broth, unsalted
1 dried bay leaf
1 sprig of rosemary
8 baby bella mushrooms, quartered
1 large egg (for egg wash)
1 tbsp cream (for egg wash)
2 sheets puff pastry
2 cups gruyere cheese, freshly grated
1 tsp of fresh thyme for topping
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp coriander seed, whole
2 tsp mustard seed, whole
2 tbsp fennel seed, whole
1 tbsp coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp ground cayenne
1/2 tsp ground smoked paprika
Place the stew beef in a large mixing bowl and toss with the spice rub until evenly coated.
Add bacon to cold dutch oven or large pot and render over low-medium heat until almost crisp, remove and set aside on paper towel for later use.
Pour oil into the pot and bring heat to medium-high. Brown stew beef in batches and then remove and set aside with bacon.
Add the onions, carrots, and celery to the pot and cook until soft, approximately 10 minutes, Stir regularly. Add garlic for the final minute. You want it fragrant but not burned.
Return beef and bacon to the pot and add the flour then tomato paste. Stir until everything is coated.
Pour in beer and then the beef stock and bring the stew to simmer. Add bay leaf and rosemary sprig, cover, and allow stew to simmer for 2 1/2 hours at least.
When stew is ready, remove from heat and stir in the mushrooms. This is a great time to test your seasoning. Add a pinch of salt if needed.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees while preparing four cocottes/ramekins or two large oven safe soufflé dishes with butter. Pour stew into dishes and distribute cheese over the top of each equally.
Brush egg wash over the rim of each dish and place puff pastry on top allowing for a little coverage around the edge. Press down along the edges to secure the pastry. We also cutout a circle in the middle of the pastry to vent. A simple slit will work as well.
Brush puff pastry with egg wash and sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
Bake for 45 minutes or until puffed and golden brown, remove from oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
Sprinkle fresh thyme on top of the melted cheese and serve.
Using a mortar and pestle, grind everything into a fine powder.