Noble Savage (he said):
Holy shit, I haven’t done one of these in a while! Our weekends have gotten pretty busy, so I’m not getting all the time I want to try out some new things in the kitchen.
The absolute best thing about the weather getting a bit chillier is the food. Think stews, pizza, slow cooker meals, hearty soups… And best of all, pies! I have mentioned the wonderful Pie Minister’s recipe book (the great pie unfuckening – when a pork, sage and cider pie turned into a Mexican pulled pork pie (https://socialsavage.co.za/2017/01/27/the-kitchen-at-the-end-of-the-universe-mexican-pulled-pork-pie/).
The book is divided into the four seasons, using seasonal ingredients (UK book, so not ZA specific), and I found the recipe for the beef and stilton pie. I’m a big fan of strong cheese, but have never had Stilton. So this seemed the perfect way to try it out.
But first, some useless facts. Like Port and Champagne, Stilton has been granted the status of protected designation by the European Commission. This means that it can only be called Stilton if it was produced using very strict guidelines, and be produced in Derbyshire, Leicester, or Nottinghamshire. In Cambridgeshire, there is a village named Stilton, but cheese produced here cannot be called Stilton. The Brits are fucking weird!
So on to the cooking! You’ll need the following:
600g beef, cut into cubes
150 – 200g Stilton (I found it at Checkers; not sure how readily available it is at other grocers)
Salt and pepper to taste
A large onion
Two Tbls flour
One tsp mustard powder
600ml beef stock
A big glass of dry red wine (I used Nederburg Baronne, but any old plonk will do)
A few thyme sprigs
Two bay leaves
One roll puff pastry
Start off with the veggies. Fry the onions and carrots until soft, and add the garlic during this time. Next, brown the beef cubes, and season to taste. Once the meat is nicely browned, add the flour, tomato paste, thyme, and the bay leaves. Pour in the beef stock and wine, reduce heat, and let it simmer.
In my opinion, the key to good food is time. And at times, thyme. Let your filling simmer for at least two hours – check later on if the meat is tender. Once the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened, transfer the filling to an oven proof dish.
Then crumble the Stilton over the filling, covering it as much as possible. Put the puff pastry over it, give it an egg wash, and put in a 180° oven for 30 – 45 minutes. Check on the pie occasionally – you don’t want the pastry to burn.
What an awesome pie! This one doesn’t require any skill; just a little patience. I suggest you pair this pie with a proper Bordeaux blend – we enjoyed the Spier Creative Block 5. And for dessert, a recent acquisition: Ardbeg Whiskey. This is one peaty motherfucker, and washed the pie down extremely well.
You can do the filling in a slow cooker as well, probably on low for about ten hours. I’ll definitely make this one again, but first need to try out some other winter favourites…