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guinness pie

All Photos: Erie Times-News

Guinness baked into a meaty pie makes a perfect seasonal treat.

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This classic Irish beer actually has a history in the South

It's officially March, and that means it's time to pull out our Irish ingredients and get ready for St. Patrick's Day. One such ingredient — Guinness — actually has a history in the South. Read on for a primer on the classic beer, and get a great savory recipe to use up a couple extra pints.

Sometimes I look back on dishes I've made wistfully, remembering when I could use ingredients such as flour and cheese and butter without a peep from my husband. He would dive in as enthusiastically as I would to, say, this gem of a dish, which makes a fine celebration of the centennial of its namesake.

But, alas, I'll have to eat this one all by myself this year. Ha! Seriously. I'm seriously tempted to make this and eat it all myself. Seriously.

Guinness to me is as much beloved ingredient as a beverage. I've used it in brownies, cake, stew and pot roast — and then been forced (oh, the tortures I've endured for my art!) to use the rest of the six-pack to wash them all down.

Want to feel young? Guinness was born in 1759, according to www.guinness.com, and it didn't even get to America until 202 years ago, in 1817, when some rich dude in South Carolina ordered eight barrels from across the pond. Eight barrels of Guinness! Sheesh! He must have been cooking with it, too.

Well, it's Guinness all month, er, I mean, March, and it'll soon be St. Patrick's Day and all that. Pour that velvety blackness into a glass and watch the bubbles swirl around. Sip the indescribable bittersweet stout and grin like a leprechaun with a little of that silky soft foam on your stiff upper lip.

And I highly suggest making this pie to go with it.

Guinness Pie
Recipe courtesy of The New York Times.
Serves: 8

Ingredients
Pie Filling
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large red onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
10 mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
3 pounds brisket or stew meat, chopped into bite-size pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 sprig fresh rosemary
About 4 cups (3 (12-ounce) bottles) Guinness, or other stout of your choice
8 ounces freshly grated cheddar cheese (optional)

Pastry
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) very cold unsalted butter, diced
Ice water
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten

Instructions
To make the pie filling: Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large, ovenproof pan fitted with a lid, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 10 minutes.

Add the carrots, celery, mushrooms and remaining 2 tablespoons butter and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are dark in color and the moisture released by them has evaporated, about 15 minutes.

Season the beef pieces all over with salt and pepper. Add the beef, flour and rosemary to the pan and cook over high heat, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Add enough Guinness to just cover the beef. Cover the pan and put it in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven and stir. Return to the oven and cook for 1 hour more. If the liquid remains thin, set the pan over medium-low heat, remove the lid and reduce until thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If using cheddar, fold in about half.

While the stew is cooking, prepare the pastry: Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Using a pastry cutter or your hands, quickly work the butter into the dough until it is the texture of coarse meal. Stir in ice water, a tablespoon at a time, until a firm dough forms. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Place the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap and, using a rolling pin, roll to the thickness of a computer mouse pad. Pour the stew into an 8-inch-square, 2-inch-high Pyrex dish or a deep 9-inch pie pan. If using cheddar, scatter the remaining cheese across the top.

Place the dough on top of the pie and pinch it closed around the edges using the tines of a fork, then slash the center lightly with a knife. Brush with the egg yolk, place on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, or until the pastry is puffy and golden. Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Jennie Geisler can be reached on Twitter: @ETNGeisler.

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