Hmm, unwanted guest will keep returning for more – BEEF AND MUSHROOM POT PIES!

These Beef & Mushroom Pot Pies are a healthy, festive and fun holiday meal reminiscent of the frozen pot pies of yor childhood, only healthier and tastier. The only drawback – unwanted neighbours will knock your door down even after the holidays season. Proceed with caution!

Olive oil
2 1/2 ounces pancetta, diced
1 head garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
3 pounds beef stew cut into 3/4″ pieces
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour plus more for rolling out the dough
2 cups red wine
1 11-ounce bottle Guinness Stout
4 cups beef broth
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 bay leaves
3 T tomato paste
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 pound red potatoes, diced but not peeled
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and sliced
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 14-ounce bag frozen pearl onions
1 14-ounce bag frozen peas
2 sheets puff pastry (I use Pepperidge Farms puff pastry)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Heat a large heavy bottomed pan such as a Dutch Oven over medium heat. When hot add pancetta and saute until crispy. Remove from the pan and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Set pancetta aside reserving the oil released in the pan.
Add the garlic and onion and saute in the reserved pancetta grease over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until soft. Depending on how much pancetta grease is left, you may need to add a bit of olive oil to supplement. Remove the onions and garlic from the pan and set aside.
Aggressively season the chopped beef with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Place the seasoned meat in a bowl and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of flour over meat and toss with your hands to coat. Heat the pan with the residual pancetta grease and olive oil, adding more olive oil if needed. Sear the meat one half at a time, without overcrowding the pan, stirring frequently and taking care not to burn the bottom of the pan. This will take about 10 minutes per batch. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside. There will be brown (not black) fond stuck to the bottom of the pan. This is a good thing.
Add about 1/2 cup of red wine to the hot pan to deglaze the pan over medium to medium/high heat and scrub the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release the fond. This released fond will add tremendous flavor to your stew. Keep scrubbing the bottom of the pan until all the bits are released.
Add the pancetta, meat and onions back to the pan. Add remaining wine, stout, beef broth, herbs, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer for 1 hour.
Add potatoes, carrots and mushrooms to the pot. Return to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes, until potatoes and carrots are al dente — firm, but done. Add the frozen pearl onions and peas and cook another 5 minutes. Remove from heat. At this point, the stew can be cooled and refrigerated or frozen or you can proceed to assembling and baking the pot pies.
Heat your oven to 400 degrees. While the vegetables are cooking, remove the puff pastry from the freezer, unwrap and remove paper and allow to thaw on the counter for 20 – 30 minutes. Sprinkle a clean surface, preferably marble or granite, with a handful of flour. Roll out the dough and cut out circles that are about 1″ larger than your oven-proof serving bowls.
Ladle the stew into each bowl, filling it up to within 1/2″ of the top of the bowl.
Place a circle of dough over each stew bowl, sealing the edges over the top and sides by gently pressing the dough around the bowl. Take a sharp knife and cut three slits in the top of each pie. Sprinkle each pie with a tablespoon of grated parmesan cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, until top is golden brown and insides are hot. Serve immediately.

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