1.1 lb. package of puff pastry (these come frozen, so thaw in the frig before using)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 lbs. sirloin steak, cubed
1 large onion, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. flour
1 cup ale or beer (I like to use Newcastle brown ale)
4 cups unsalted beef broth
Salt & pepper
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
8 oz. (5 slices) bacon, cut into small dice
8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup of cooking liquid
3 tbsp. flour
Six 5" disposable aluminum pie tins
1 egg, lightly beaten
1. Heat 2 tbsp. vegetable oil in a cast iron or other heavy pot over medium high heat. Add the sirloin cubes, season with salt and pepper, and brown on all sides (cook in batches if needed so as not to overcrowd the pot - otherwise, the meat will steam and not brown).
2. Remove the meat to a plate and set aside (meat does not have to be cooked through, just browned on the outside).
3. If the pot is dry, add a little extra oil and saute the chopped onion, carrots and garlic over medium high heat until the veggies have softened. Stir in 2 tsp. of brown sugar. Sprinkle in 2 tbsp. of flour and stir well to combine.
4. Add the ale or beer and the beef broth. Bring up to a boil and season with salt and pepper.
5. Tie the bay leaves, thyme sprigs and parsley sprigs together in a bundle with kitchen twine (aka, bouquet garni) and drop into the pot. Remove 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid and set aside. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 2 hours or until the meat is really tender.
6. In the meantime, heat 1-2 tsp. of oil in a saute pan over medium high heat. Add the diced bacon and sliced mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until the bacon and mushrooms are lightly browned and cooked through. Add the mushroom-bacon mix to the pot of beef about 1 1/2 hours into the beef's total cooking time and continue simmering the mixture, covered.
7. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking liquid (should be cooled by now) with 3 tbsp. of flour and mix well.
8. Bring the beef-mushroom pot to a boil and stir in the broth-flour mixture. Stir constantly until the mixture has thickened. Turn off heat and remove the herb bundle/bouquet garni. Let the mixture cool and refrigerate before using. It's actually best to let this sit in the frig one or two days before filling the pies so that the flavors have time to meld. You can also freeze the mixture from 2-3 months before using.
9. Preheat the oven to 400F.
10. Cut out six 5" rounds from the puff pastry sheets.
11. Ladle the beef-mushroom mixture into 6 pie tins and top each with a pastry round, crimping the edges. * Use a paring knife to make a couple slits into each pastry crust; use the tines of a fork and press down on the edges of the pastry crust to seal. Brush the top with the beaten egg yolk.
12. Place the pie tins onto a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is browned and the filling bubbling. Remove and serve right away while still hot.
*You can also freeze the unbaked pies: cover well with plastic wrap and then foil. Take them out of the freezer, let thaw, brush with egg wash, and then bake as noted above.