Beef bourguignon skillet pie combines that fancy French dish with the comfort of pastry for dinner. Rich beef with red wine, bacon, tomato paste, pearl onions, and topped with an herby, flaky crust–sounds like something to warm you up on a cool evening, doesn’t it?
When most of us think of pie, I bet a savory one isn’t the first thought that comes to mind. If you fall into this camp, there’s a whole world of savory pie just waiting to be tapped. Think of them as an opportunity to get a meal on the table all in one go, but with the most flavor payoff possible. I adore the rich and comforting flavors of beef bourguignon, so I set out to create a pie version that delivered that same coziness. I found this skillet version with only a top crust was just the ticket.–Taylor Harbin
HOW DO I MAKE A FLAKY PIE CRUST?
Temperature. Temperature. Temperature. When very cold butter hits a very hot oven, magical things happen. But there’s a sad in-between too. A lukewarm crust gets very sad and droopy in the oven really quickly. This is why the freezer is our friend. Whether your kitchen runs a little hot or you just have hot hands, any time you’re working with pie dough and you feel it getting too warm, feel empowered to throw it in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes to chill it down again.
The aim is to have the coldest crust possible when it enters a hot oven. When the heat evaporates the water in the crust and the fat from the butter melts, it helps the dough to rise and create flaky layers.
Beef Bourguignon Skillet Pie
For the herb pie dough
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 4 to 6 tablespoons ice water or more, divided
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter cold and cut into 1/2-inch (1.3 cm) cubes
For the beef bourguignon filling
- 4 slices bacon cut into 1/2-inch (13 mm) pieces
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound chuck roast cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes
- 2 tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 bag (14 ounce) frozen pearl onions thawed and drained, or 1 large white onion, roughly chopped
- 6 medium (12 oz) carrots cut on the bias into 1-inch (2.5 cm) slices
- 1 tablespoon dried herbes de Provençe*
- 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon store-bought or homemade tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 1 cup store-bought or homemade beef stock
For the pie
- All purpose flour for rolling
- 1/2 recipe herb pie dough patted into a disc
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- Flaky salt
- Roughly chopped fresh tender herbs such as parsley, tarragon or chives, for serving
Make the herb pie dough
- In a small bowl, mix together egg yolks, vinegar, and 4 tablespoons (60 ml) of ice water. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, and thyme. Add the butter pieces, and toss to coat in the flour mixture. Using your hands, pinch the pieces of butter between your thumbs and index fingers to flatten them into thin shards. Continue until all the butter has been flattened, working quickly to prevent the butter from getting too warm.
- Drizzle egg mixture over flour mixture, toss with your hands to incorporate the ingredients.
- Drizzle over the last 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30 ml) of ice water as needed, a little at a time, just until the dough comes together and is no longer dry and crumbly. You may not need all of the remaining 2 tablespoons (30 ml), depending on the humidity, or you may even need a bit more. You want to add just enough water for the dough to feel firmly held together and smooth rather than dry and crumbly, but not so much that it’s soft, wet, and sticky to the touch.
- Pat dough into a rough rectangle about 1-inch (2.5 cm) thick. Slice rectangle into quarters and stack pieces on top of one another. Gently pat out dough with your hands into a rectangle about 1-inch (2.5 cm) thick. Repeat cutting and stacking once more. This process is going to give you all those flaky layers.
- Divide dough in half and pat into discs. Wrap each tightly in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours or, ideally, overnight. Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften slightly before rolling it out. You only need one disc for this recipe, so the remaining disc can be frozen for future pie cravings.
Make the beef bourguignon filling
- Season beef generously on both sides with salt and pepper, then add half to the pot in a single layer, leaving a bit of room in between the pieces to allow them to brown rather than steam. Cook, letting the beef brown on one side, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and brown on the second side, about 3 minutes. Remove beef using a slotted spoon and add it to the plate with the bacon. Repeat with remaining beef, moving browned meat to plate.
- Add butter to the Dutch oven and let it melt, then add onions, carrots, and herbes de Provence and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to brown, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce, and cook until the tomato paste darkens, stirring constantly, about 1 minute.
- Add the beef, bacon, and any juices left on the plate. Sprinkle in the flour, and stir to coat the vegetables and beef. Pour in wine and beef stock, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the bits at the bottom of the pot.
- Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until the liquid has thickened and reduced, stirring occasionally, 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours.
- Dump stew into a 10-inch (25-cm) ovenproof skillet, and let cool while you roll out and chill the crust.
Assemble the pie
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Roll dough out onto a well-floured work surface into a 1/4-inch (6-mm) thick round, about 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 cm) in diameter. The round should just fit over the filling in the skillet and go to the edge of the pan. The size will differ slightly depending on the pan you’re using and its slope. Carefully move round to the prepared baking sheet.
- To make the laurel leaf and branch design, roll out two long ropes of dough, using scraps of dough. Curve the ropes along each side of the round to make the branches, placing them about 1-inch (2.5 cm) from the edges with a bit of space at both the top and bottom. Reroll any remaining scraps to a 1/4-inch (6-mm) thickness. Use a small leaf cookie cutter or a paring knife to cut out leaves. Use a paring knife to cut a shallow slit along the middle of the leaf, being careful not to cut all the way through it.
- Arrange leaves on branches, gently patting them into the dough to adhere. Alternatively, for a simpler design, skip the laurel leaf and branch decoration and simply cut a few vent holes in the crust when you are ready to bake the pie.
- Place baking sheet with the dough in the freezer for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C).
- Place frozen crust on top of filling in the skillet, pressing it in gently, if necessary, so it fits snugly against the filling. Brush top of crust with beaten egg, and use a sharp knife to cut a few vent holes, sprinkle with flaky salt. Place the skillet on the prepared baking sheet the dough was freezing on.
- Bake pie until the crust is deep golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Allow pie to cool for a few minutes, sprinkle with herbs and serve.
*What’s in herbes de Provençe?You might not have a container of herbes de Provençe in your spice cupboard. An aromatic mixture of dried Provençal herbs and spices, it traditionally includes thyme, basil, rosemary, tarragon, savory, marjoram, oregano, and occasionally bay leaf and lavender. But now that you know what it is, you can substitute any combination of those herbs that you have on hand.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
The headnote for this recipe states that the author adores the rich and comforting flavors of beef bourguignon. So do I. This pie is a worthy effort, so much so that I made it in late September in Florida. Okay, so it was dreary and rainy and we could pretend it was fall anywhere but here. It made a scrumptious Friday evening supper while chatting and drinking the leftover wine from the recipe.
Reading through the instructions would make you think it is a complicated undertaking, not so. It’s broken down into manageable steps and gives the cook plenty of time to execute all the parts. I was already into making the filling when I realized I had no herbs de Provence, so I took a salt-free Italian herb mix and added savory and tarragon. No lavender, and I didn’t miss it.
I allowed it to simmer for nearly two hours, the meat was fall-apart tender and the gravy well flavored. The instructions are detailed and precise, I encountered absolutely no problems with the recipe.
The crust comes together easily (I cut the recipe in half), it’s so buttery that I noticed it bubbling out around the edges while the pie baked. It has a beautifully flaky quality. I didn’t try any of the variations with the crust, just crimped and cut vents in the center.
Beef bourguignon skillet pie is a labor of love with a gratifying result for a fall or winter evening meal. The step-by-step sauté process builds layers of savoriness. My testers unanimously approved the finished pie while suggesting the addition of mushrooms and parsnips or rutabagas.
When I test recipes, I look for ways to simplify them for busy lifestyles. An alternative to stovetop cooking with periodic checks to stir the stew is braising in a covered Dutch oven at 350°F for about 1 1/2 hours with a check after 1 hour to judge tenderness of the meat. Purchased beef stew meat works as a substitution for cutting chuck roast. And of course, the stew and dough could be made ahead then assembled and baked when ready to be enjoyed.
We enjoyed the pie with a spinach salad garnished with raspberries and blue cheese, French bread, and red wine while watching autumn-colored leaves slowly drifting from the trees outside the windows.
Originally published October 16, 2021