Boeuf bourguignon pie

I’m on a savoury baking roll!

With no rolls in sight.

More like I’ve got half a recipe of puff pastry from the tapenade twists and this recipe calls for the other half.

A recipe I’ve been slightly scared of.

I’ve wanted to make boeuf bourguignon ever since I watched Julie & Julia. And, as already mentioned, the leftover puff pastry was as good a reason as any. Plus, I told my sister that I would bring her and her family this particular recipe to help me eat it because bringing a massive meat pie to work seems, well, tricky.

So it was decided. All I needed was, well, everything. Not just basic ingredients, but also a deep pie dish and a pie raiser.

What’s a pie raiser, you ask?

Good question. Because I had no idea. I had to google it multiple times. And I went to three different stores to try and find it. Eventually I gave up because I told myself that, sure, pie raisers (or pie birds) are common contraptions in Europe to keep the pastry above the filling and help ventilation, but for the rest of us laypeople, we’ve just been cutting holes in pie crusts and letting that be enough.

The recipe says I could also use an egg cup but I don’t have an egg cup and I’m not sure how to tell if one purchased in the store is oven safe.

I also tried two different stores before eventually finding a deep enough pie dish (1.5 litre capacity) in the third store, so my day has been a little, well, trying.

But here we are, ingredients purchased (including all 800 grams of stewing beef), most of the bakeware and utensils (I finally purchased a slotted spoon and tongs), and time on my side.

First up, cook the lardons. Except I still don’t know what lardons are so I got bacon.

The recipe says to fry these in a flameproof casserole and, again, there’s a cultural misunderstanding. The last time I tried to cook with a casserole dish on the stovetop, it exploded. So I’m using a giant oven-safe pot instead.

Next up is browning the stewing beef—all 800 grams of it—in the bacon fat. One thing I remembered from Julie & Julia is to dry the beef before browning it to help it brown better, or something.

But after only one batch, that proved to be time consuming, so I gave that up.

This is taking forever. And it’s getting quite smokey. After two batches I opened my door and kitchen window as wide as they could go. And making sure to brown every side of each piece is so time-consuming. Most of these have six sides and you’re not supposed to crowd the pieces (a tip from Meryl-Streep-as-Julia-Child that I stuck with), so I feel like it took way too long.

But it all got done!

Next is browning the shallots. In the pot that has already browned 800 grams of stewing beef and over 100 grams of bacon.

Needless to say, the pot got a little charred. Instead of continuing on and getting burnt meat juices in the pie filling, I made the executive decision to swap pots.

Now, that does take this recipe off the rails a little.

Technically there should have been enough fat and juice leftover from all that meat to then add flour and brown it as a thickening agent. But there was not. I guess the meat I purchased from the fancy butcher is just too lean.

The step after the flour is the wine, so I skipped ahead a touch and combined a little wine with the flour. (Whitened red wine is a super pretty purple colour, is it not?)

I’ve attempted stews before and the flour aspect always gets clumpy and gross so I’m trying to avoid that by doing it outside the pan first.

Now, since I already went off book with the lack of a pie raiser and now the wine process, I figure it’s okay that I go off book with the vegetable option. The recipe calls for dried porcini mushrooms that have been rehydrated with boiling water. First of all, that sounds disgusting. Second of all, I don’t love mushrooms. I tolerate them when I have to but more often than not set them to the side of my plate or, when possible, shift them to the plate of someone who enjoys them.

So instead I’m using carrots.

Because who doesn’t love carrots?

Time to add the beef and shallots back in as well as the garlic and salt and pepper.

I mean it looks pretty good, no?

Oh right, can’t forget the bay leaf.

I always think I need to add more than one bay leaf (leaves?) because it doesn’t seem like it should be strong enough to flavour an entire pan. But I’m trusting Mary and Paul and sticking with one. (You know, other than all the modifications I’ve made to this already, including the extra garlic cloves I threw in because two didn’t seem like enough.)

Time to cook it in the oven for an hour and a half to two hours.

*more than two hours later*

I tried a piece of beef with a piece of carrot and mm-mm it was tasty. Now to let it cool.

According to Mary and Paul, the filling can be made two days in advance and heated up with the puff pastry when it comes time to eat it. Hence why I’m doing this on a Monday in preparation for bringing it to my sister’s on Wednesday.

Oh I can’t forget to add back in the bacon.

And now I’m supposed to put it in the pie dish around the pie raiser and leave it until it’s cold.

At least I got part of that right.

*two days later*

I found a pie bird!

How cute is this? It was in a little specialty kitchen store in a cute little part of town.

Does that look right? I have no idea. But it looks adorable!

Time to roll out the puff pastry. The puff pastry that’s not very puffed. I was supposed to roll it out into a large enough circle to allow me to cut a larger circle and line the ledge of the pie dish.


Then I was to cut a slit in the middle of the circle that would fit over the pie bird.

I hope it lines up properly.

Then I roll it onto the rolling pin and roll that back out onto the pie dish. Which I did successfully! And then all the extra pieces are to be cut up and placed on it. That I did, too. However, I noticed too late that each of the pieces are to stay put with a dab of egg. That I did not do. I did arrange the pieces in triangles because they’re easier to cut and it gives my pie a Saved by the Bell nostalgic quality. I don’t know why. There were colourful triangles in the opening credits, weren’t there?

The egg wash was completed at my sister’s where the baking would take place (so the subsequent eating could also take place). And the pie bird is looking good.

Side note: When my back was turned, my nephew tried to lick the raw egg wash on the raw puff pastry. His curiosity is sometimes a problem. He’s only three. Thankfully I stopped him just in time. He then continued to talk about the “rotten egg” I used in the pie and I had to tell him it’s not “rotten egg” it’s “raw egg.” And that you can’t eat rotten eggs, but you can eat raw egg after it’s been cooked.

I think I cut the slit too large.

*a little over half an hour later*

Well, the puff pastry really didn’t puff.

But it smells delicious, even if it looks a little sad. And thanks to my sister’s mashed potaters, it makes quite a nice (and rather delicious, if I do say so myself) meal:

Plus, my sister thought it was delicious and was grateful she didn’t have to spend the time making it. My seven-year-old niece ate all the meat as well as the meat on her two-year-old brother’s plate. My aforementioned three-year-old nephew was a big fan of the “pie” (the pastry) but didn’t like the “chicken” (the beef). And the two-year-old just shoved his face full of everything until he eventually spat it out so he didn’t choke on it. All in all, a partial success! And I get leftovers for work tomorrow.

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