Take leftover beef and mushroom stew from the freezer, add a sheet of ready-made puff pastry, and you can put an impressive meal on the table in under an hour with very little effort.
Total Time Investment: 35 minutes
Rummaging through the freezer recently, I came across a container of leftover Beef and Mushroom Stew. I could have just reheated the stew, served it with a side of mash potato and some steamed greens, and dinner would be done. A better plan was to turn the leftover stew into pot pies.
There is something about a pastry lid that says “I’ve made an effort”, even if that effort involves scraping the leftover beef stew into a pie dish and slapping a slab of pre-rolled puff pastry on top. Appearance is everything when it comes to food, and there is no denying that a lid of well-risen puff pastry looks impressive.
Almost any leftover stew, or even leftover curry, can be turned into pie just by adding a pastry lid. It is one way of serving your family the same meal twice in the one week without them really noticing. Just add different sides and the family will think you have been slaving away in the kitchen all afternoon. Pies are also easily assembled in advance, then either refrigerated or frozen until required. A word of caution though, don’t refreeze the pie if using a defrosted stew. Only freeze pies made with fresh leftovers.
I will make either little individual pies or a single large pie according to both my mood and the time available to me. Individuals pies mean more pastry for everyone, but they are ever so slightly more work as you need to cut out pastry for each ramekin. When I am short on time, I make one generous family sized pie by piling the stew into a large pie dish and covering the top with a single sheet of pastry.
Puff pastry is a staple in my freezer. It is the easiest way of turning out a quick tart for dinner or some simple pastries for dessert, or even whipping up some quick appetisers for a drinks party. Keep some on hand, and plan ahead next time you make a stew so that you have leftovers. Then you will have everything you need to make a spectacular looking meal with very little effort.
Meal Prep Tips & Serving Suggestions
- Assemble the pies in advance and refrigerate. When you are ready to cook the pie, just pre-heat the oven and slide the pie in once it reaches the correct temperature.
- Pies can be frozen if using “fresh” stew. Do not refreeze pies made from frozen leftover stew. To cook a pie from frozen, add an extra 15 – 20 minutes to the cooking time.
- Leftover stew will keep in the fridge for 2 – 3 days, so you can make stew earlier in the week and serve pies from the leftovers a few days later. The flavour of the stew will improve with time, and adding different sides will make it seem like a completely different meal.
- Serve the pie with mashed potato, and steamed greens or a green salad. I also like to serve pies with boiled potatoes that I have tossed in a little butter, and seasoned with salt and pepper.
- Use any leftover stew in place of the beef and mushroom stew. Leftover curry can also be turned into pies if desired.
- Shortcrust or homemade rough butter puff pastry can be used in place of the puff pastry.
- Use a gluten free pastry to make the pie gluten free.
Leftover Beef & Mushroom Stew Pot Pies
- 1/2 batch Slow Cooker Beef & Mushroom Stew
- 1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry
- 2 Tablespoons milk
- Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan forced)
To Make a Family Sized Pie
- Place the cold stew into a large pie dish.
- Using a pastry brush (or your clean finger) brush milk around the rim of the pie dish.
- Place the sheet of pastry over the cold filling.
- Press the pastry around the edges of the pie dish to seal.
- Run a sharp knife around the edge of the pie dish to trim any overhanging pastry. The pie can be frozen at this stage.
- Brush the pastry with milk.
- Cut a small incision in the middle of the pie with a sharp knife.
- Bake for 30 - 40 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and well risen. The pie filling may start to bubble out the cut in the pastry, or around the edges, indicating that the filling is hot.
- Remove the pie from the oven, and allow to sit at room temperature for 5 minutes before serving with your favourite sides. The resting time just allows the filling to settle.
To Make Individual Pies*
- Place your ramekins top-down on the pastry, and cut around it with a sharp knife.
- Repeat for the remaining ramekins.
- Divide the cold stew evenly between the ramekins.
- Brush the edges of the ramekins with milk.
- Press the pastry circles onto the edge of the ramekins or tuck the pastry in around the edge of the ramekins.
- Repeat as for the large family pie above.