One my favorite new recipes this winter has been this Cider-Braised Beef Stew recipe I discovered on the local Ontario food blog Seasonal Family. I’ve been making beef stew for years, but had never thought of using apple cider to braise the beef. It makes the already-enticing bowl of steaming comfort food all the more delicious by making it both savory and sweet! Yum!
This week, I was coming up on making it for the third time this month, and wanted a way to make it a bit different. I decided to turn it into a Pub Pie (basically a single-crust pot pie) with a whole wheat crust. The Stew is fabulous on its own and if you don’t want to bother with a crust, simply skip down to the stew directions and enjoy it with some good, crusty bread. But if you have the time to make the crust, I think you’ll find it’s worth it!
You’ll want to make the whole wheat crust first.
Nicole’s Whole Wheat Pie Crust
1 ½ cup soft whole wheat flower
½ cup very cold butter (best if you can put it in the freezer for half hour before you use it)
2 t kosher salt
2 t sugar
6-8 T iced cold milk
1. Sift the flour, salt, and sugar into a medium-sized bowl.
2. Using a box grater, quickly grate the butter into the flour and mix briefly.
3. Spring the milk 2 T at a time over the flour/butter mixture, using a fork to lightly stir until the flour is sufficiently moist to form the dough into a ball with as little handling as possible.
4. Form dough into a disc and cover in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for an hour.
Cider-Braised Beef Stew
For the Beef Stew, use the ingredients and directions listed here, with these few deviations:
1. I use ½ a cube of beef boullion in the 2 cups of water
2. I braise the beef in the cider and bouillion- water with the onions only for an hour before adding the other vegetables.
I find this allows the beef to get very tender without the veg getting over-cooked.
3. Instead of 3 carrots, I used:
½ medium parsnip
1 small orange carrot
1 small yellow carrot
1 russet potato
4. You may need to add more water once you’ve added the veggies, depending on how much your liquid cooked-down while the meat was braising.
To make the Pub Pie:
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
2. When the beef stew is done, find a casserole dish of any shape that will just hold the contents of the stew, with only an inch or less to spare at the top of the dish.
3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out to a shape that will fit the top of your casserole dish.
Place it atop the dish with as little handling as possible, cut a few slits in the top for ventilation, and bake the dish in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until he crust is golden brown.
This was simply delicious and we enjoyed it with some fresh-made local bread and a glass of Waterloo Dark beer. I hope some of you have an opportunity to enjoy this fabulous dish and put your loft box veg to great use!
-Nicole Marsh-Mueller loves to cook locally and seasonally for her family and blogs at The Armchair Housewife
photo credit: Nicole Marsh-Mueller