Friday, February 17, 2012

Cowboy bison and beer pie

This is my take on shepherd's pie. I made it with ground bison and used a dark beer and brandy to develop a thick, sweet and sour sauce that complements well the bison's flavor. If you have time, I recommend you let the bison simmer as long as you can. Treat it like a chili con carne, and it will reward you with complex flavors. But you can speed things up, if need be. It will still be good.

This recipe is perfect if you have a cast iron skillet: you can cook the bison on the stove, and then put it in the oven directly.

Cowboy bison and beer pie

Ingredients (for 6 people, in a 10in skillet)

  • 1 pound (450g) of ground bison
  • 2 tsp of chili powder
  • 1 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • 3 slices of bacon, chopped in ⅓ inch (1cm) pieces
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 3 peeled and chopped carrots
  • 2 peeled and chopped parsnips
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • ⅓ cup canned crushed tomatoes or a few tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp chopped sage
  • 1 laurel leaf
  • 1 can of dark beer (I used an Imperial stout)
  • 1/4 cup of brandy
  • ½ cup beef broth or water
  • salt & pepper

For the mashed potatoes
  • ¾ pound of russet potatoes, or other baking quality, peeled and cut in four
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp heavy whipping cream
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • salt and pepper
How to make it

  • Heat your heavy skillet (I love cast iron) on low fire. Add the bacon and let it cook, stirring it occasionally, until it becomes crisp. This will take 10-15’. Don’t rush it. Take the bacon out of the pan and lay it on paper towel to dry.
  • In the same pan with the bacon fat, add the oil. Add the carrots, the parsnips, the onions, the celery and cook, stirring for 5 minutes.
  • Add the bison meat, the chili powder, a pinch of salt. Stir and make sure to brown the meat evenly, 10 minutes. 
  • Add the brandy, let it evaporate 2 minutes. 
  • Add the beer, thyme, sage and laurel. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, so as to make sure to get all that flavorful bits. Let the beer reach the boiling point, then reduce the heat, add the broth and let it simmer for a 1-2 hours, until the sauce has thickened to a thick gravy. You can speed up this part by slightly increasing the heat, but the flavors will not be the same. It will still be good though (treat it like a chili con carne: the more it cooks, slowly, the better).
  • Check for salt and pepper and adjust to your taste.
  • For the potatoes: cook them in lightly salty boiling water for 20 minutes, or until they are soft. Drain them and rice them into a large bowl.
  • Heat milk, butter and cream in a saucepan until they are hot and almost boiling. Add the milk mixture to the riced potatoes and stir. Once the potato mixture is cool enough, add salt and pepper and add the beaten egg, stirring.
  • If you have used a skillet that can go into the oven, simply spread the potato mixture on the flattened bison and vegetable mixture. If not, you need to transfer the bison to a baking pan. Cross hatch the potatoes with a fork, and bake in oven at 400F/200C degrees for 20-30 minutes, until the potatoes are browning (see photo). If you are in hurry, use the broiler in your oven, and it will brown your potatoes in 10’.
  • Let the pie rest 5-10 minutes: serve!


mmwebber said...

Didn't have bison, substituted ground elk and venison, and a Belgian Amber instead of a stout, but tastes terrific!

A Tuscan foodie in America said...

Hi mmwebber, happy to hear it worked for you! Ground elk and venison sound like EXCELLENT alternatives. I may try it myself...

As for the beer: every beer will give its flavor, but I am pretty sure that this thing here will be good with any beer. I bet my non existing reputation on it.

Mavis said...

I'm gonna make a version of this with ground beef sometime this week. I need some comfort food! :)

A Tuscan foodie in America said...

Let me know how it comes out for you!


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