By the time this paper is printed and distributed around campus, St. Patrick’s Day will have come and gone. At the time of writing this column, however, this special day hasn’t quite arrived; which is why I’ve decided to feature a uniquely Irish sounding dish that is best enjoyed while ignoring the subtle distinction between cultural appropriation and cultural exchange.
What you’ll need:
- A pad of butter
- ¾ cup of milk (or buttermilk if you’re fancy)
- Pie crust
- An egg (beaten)
- 1 ½ lbs of stew meat
- Pepper jack and gouda cheese
- Kitchen bouquet meat browning sauce
- One can of cheap or Irish sounding beer
- Garlic salt
First, prepare the stew meat by dumping it into a large bowl, along with half your can of beer and a few dashes of the browning sauce. Kitchen Bouquet browning sauce is pretty great for hamburgers and meatloaf as well, so don’t feel bad if you are forced to buy it because your kitchen is lacking. I’m sure there’s a generic brand that’s half a cent or two cheaper, but I’m not sure what that would be called. All you need to know is that it has a yellow label and comes in a strange shaped brown plastic vial.
While your meat is marinating in beer and browning sauce, slice up enough of the vegetables to fill up a large pan, and begin cooking it in butter on medium heat. Add a healthy amount of garlic salt and give it a stir every once and a while, but let it cook till the mushrooms get kinda wilty and there is a little bit of liquid forming in the bottom of the pan. Now, there are a lot of people who think mushrooms are gross, but those people are wrong. Every once in a while, a journalist has to take a stance that might jeopardize readership, and this is one of those moments. Include mushrooms because mushrooms are actually really great and they make everything better.
Once the vegetables are cooked down to an appropriate degree (you will know, this isn’t rocket surgery), dump them into a bowl – now it is time for the meat. You want to get the meat into the pan without all the gross meat-beer it’s been soaking in, so use tongs or a fork or your hands to transfer the little chunks into the pan, but be careful not to burn yourself. You are all adults, and you can make your own decisions on how you like your beef cooked, but this isn’t a beautiful steak that needs to be taken care of like a rare Chinese panda; this is stew meat that is going to be thrown into a pie with gravy and then baked. Cook it till it’s not bloody anymore and then transfer it to a dish. You want to leave the drippings in the pan though; so, again, use tongs or a fork or your hands, but probably not your hands because this time the meat is going to be hot.
Once you’ve got a pan full of hot beer-meat drippings, turn up the heat to medium-high and add the rest of your beer to the pan. Same as with the beer cheese, you want to see the beer do that strange yeast reaction thing where it froths up a crazy amount. Before it gets too crazy, turn off the heat (remove it from the burner if you don’t have a gas stove), add the milk, and stir the Irish evil out of it with a whisk. The milk will have cooled the contents of your pan enough to now add a little of both kinds of cheese. I like this to be more gravy than cheese, but do what makes you happy. I won’t ever fault someone for using extra cheese. Stir it till it’s fully melted (and I can’t stress this enough: if you need to use heat while adding the cheese to get it to melt, make it very low heat so it doesn’t break), and get your oven preheated to 425°F.
I’m only gonna say this once: who are you trying to impress? Buy your pie crusts. They come in packs of two where I get them, and you’re gonna have enough filling to make two of these bad boys. Nobody will know the difference because, in my experience, everyone will have been drinking. Add an equal amount of all the fillings to both pie pans, or pans that you are baking your pies in, and then top with the cheesy beer gravy stuff. Top with the pie crust, brush the top of them with a well beaten egg, and wait for the oven to finish preheating. Once it is, stick it in the oven until the juices begin bubbling up and the crust is sufficiently browned.
Photos by Kyle Fierstien