Flemish Beef Pie Carbonnades
from ‘Pot Pies: Forty Savory Suppers’ by Beatrice A. Ojakangas, 1993
4 lbs. lean beef stew meat, in 1 1/2 inch cubes
1 T. vegetable shortening
2 garlic cloves, halved
1 T. flour
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
2 bottles (12 oz each) dark beer
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
3 T. dijon style mustard
3 bay leaves
1/2 t. thyme leaves
2 T. butter
4 large onions sliced into 1/4 inch rings
8 carrots cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 T. cornstarch
Whipped Potato Crust
2 lbs. potatoes peeled and halved
2 T. butter
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
2 egg whites
1/2 to 3/4 c. milk heated
2 T. butter melted for top of pie
Pat the beef dry. Heat the oil in a large skillet, add the garlic and about 1/3 of the meat. Brown the meat over high heat stirring constantly. Remove the meat to a dutch oven or deep casserole. Brown the remainder of the meat in batches. Sprinkle the browned meat with the flour and pepper. Add about 1 c. of beer to skilled and bring to boil, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom. Add vinegar, mustard, bay leaves and thyme. Pour the liquid over the meat mixture with another 1 1/2 c. beer.
Melt the butter in the same skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Add theta onions to the meat and heat to simmering. Cover and cook over low heat until the meat is tender, about 2 hours. Add the carrots during the last 30 minutes of cooking. When the meat is done blend an additional 1/4 c. of the beer with the starch. Stir into the stew and cook until thickened, 3 -5 minutes. (You can prepare the pies to this point up to three days in advance and rewarm the stew to finish the pie.)
For the crust, put the potatoes in a saucepan and add salted water to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.
Drain the potatoes and transfer to large bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until potatoes are smooth. Beat in melted butter, salt and pepper. Gradually beat in the hot milk until potatoes are light and fluffy. Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry, then gradually fold the whites into the potatoes.
Preheat the broiler. Reheat the stew, if refrigerated. Transfer stew to a broiler proof dish. Spoon the potatoes into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe the potatoes on top of the stew. Drizzle with the melted butter and broil 6 inches from the heat until lightly browned, and serve immediately.
**Notes: I took many, many liberties with this long and complex recipe, some on purpose, some by not reading the recipe so well, but all things considered, it still was delicious, and a perfect hearty meal for election night!