What does one do with a rutabaga? I have never eaten one, let alone cooked with one. It looks like your average harmless root vegetable, so why does it make the list of foods no one eats? Only once in a while do I see one or two on the produce shelves at Kroger. It definitely has a turnip-y vibe, and admittedly, it’s a little funky tasting but sweet. For my 52 week challenge to try new foods, I decided on cooking with rutabagas. Root vegetables are notoriously delicious in soups and stews, so I went a British route and made a gorgeous Steak and Ale pie with tender braised beef, rutabaga, and nutty brown beer which would please any anglophile.
Rutabagas look like giant purple and white bulbs. The biggest struggle was trying to cut into the dang thing! First I peeled it with a vegetable peeler, but then when I tried to halve it, I got my knife halfway in, and it wasn’t budging. I put all my body weight into it, and finally the thing split, but boy is that a tough root vegetable. After that it was smooth sailing. Treat it just like a squash. Peel it and cube it, and throw it into the stew.
On a trip to England a couple years ago, I couldn’t get over just how delicious steak pies are. They’re rich, and distinctly savory, and you can get them just about anywhere. I’m not sure why English cuisine gets such a bad rap, because a savory pie is exactly what I’m craving when the weather is cold, and I’m not going anywhere. Since this is a strictly British recipe, I didn’t want to butcher it, and I adapted my recipe from BBC good food. You could probably make a steak pie with any beef stew recipe so long as you drain out some of the liquid. Simply roll out a puff pastry for the bottom and top of the pie and fill it with your stew. You can substitute any root vegetable you like for the rutabaga if you can’t find one. Potatoes or turnips would be lovely!
I wanted to use a large enamel baking dish for this, but you’d be surprised just how much a pie pan can hold. You could also use an 8×8 baking dish or maybe some sort of casserole. Don’t be afraid to pile the stew high in the dish before covering it. You’ll be putting a baking sheet underneath in case any drippings spill over.
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil or bacon fat
- 2 lb stewing beef cut into cubes
- half of a rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes (about 1½ cups)
- 2 onions, chopped
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch segments
- 1 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp miso paste
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2½ cups beef stock
- 14 oz brown ale or other beer
- 6 or so thyme sprigs
- kosher salt to taste
- 2 sheets of puff pastry
- 2 egg yolks
- Preheat the oven to 325 F.
- In a large dutch oven or oven proof pot with a lid, add the vegetable oil or bacon fat and heat to medium high heat. Add half the beef and brown, turning periodically for about 5 minutes. Reserve the beef to a plate and continue with the second batch, browning for 5 minutes and turning every couple minutes. Reserve to the plate with the other cubed beef.
- In the same dutch oven, add the rutabaga, onions, carrots, and saute, adding a bit more oil if needed. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes until the onions begin to soften. Add the flour and stir to coat. Add the red wine vinegar, miso paste, tomato paste and stir. Then add the stock, ale, and thyme, season liberally with kosher salt and stir.
- Bring to a simmer then cover and bake at 325 F for 2 hours. You can make the stew ahead of time and refrigerate before assembling the pie the next day. Or you can cook it immediately.
- Defrost the puff pastry for 30 minutes on the counter top. Bring the oven temperature up to 425 F.
- Roll out one sheet of the puff pastry. Butter and flour an 11 inch pie pan or 8x8 baking dish. Cover the bottom of the dish with the rolled out pastry.
- Pour off half the braising liquid and reserve to use as a gravy (about 2 cups). Pour the stew into the prepared pied crust. Roll out the remaining puff pastry on a floured surface until it's large enough to cover the entire pie pan with a small overhang. Brush the edges of the bottom crust with water. Lay the top crust on top, and roll the remaining edges underneath. Pinch the edges of the rolled under crust to create a crimp. Then cut four vent holes in the top. Whisk the egg yolks and brush over the top of the crust and edges.
- Place a baking sheet on the rack below the pie to catch any drippings. Bake for 25 minutes at 425 F. If the pie is browning too much, cover it with aluminum foil the last 10 minutes of cooking. Remove from the oven and let cool before serving.
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