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Oh bring us a beefy potpie

Chicken potpie is a fine, comforting dinner for most of the winter. But at Christmas, you want comfort with a little more. You want a dinner that's as special as it is comforting.

So we used the model of a basic puff pastry-topped chicken potpie, but substituted tender sirloin tips for the poultry. Add a creamy beef gravy and you end up with a savory potpie that is the perfect casual, comforting, yet special way to cap a wonderful Christmas.

Christmas Beef Potpie

Makes 6 servings. Start to finish: 1 hour.

     1 1/4     pounds yellow potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks

     Kosher salt

     2     tablespoons butter

     1     medium yellow onion, sliced

     2     medium shallots, sliced

     1     clove garlic, minced

     2     large carrots, diced

     2     stalks celery, diced

     2     tablespoons tomato paste

     2     teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

     2     tablespoons minced fresh thyme

     1 1/4     pounds sirloin tips, cut into 1-inch pieces

     Ground black pepper

     1     tablespoon vegetable or canola oil

     1/4  cup red wine

     3/4  cup unsalted or low-sodium beef stock

     2     tablespoons all-purpose flour

     1/2  cup heavy cream

     1     sheet puff pastry, thawed according to package directions

HEAT the oven to 400°.

PLACE the potatoes in a medium saucepan. Add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then cook until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

MELT the butter in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat.

ADD the onion, shallots and garlic and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and cook until beginning to brown and caramelize at the edges, about 10 more minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and thyme. Cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

SEASON the sirloin with salt and pepper. Return the skillet to the stovetop over high heat. Add the oil. Working in batches to avoid crowding the pan, sear the meat on all sides until well browned, about 3 minutes. The meat does not need to be cooked through. Once seared, remove the meat from the pan.

LOWER the heat to medium and stir in the red wine. Scrape up any browned bits from the pan.

WHISK together in a small bowl the beef stock and flour. Add to the pan, whisking until thick, about 3 minutes.

STIR in the cream. Return the beef, vegetables and potatoes to the pan and stir to combine and coat everything with the sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

TRANSFER to a medium casserole dish or baking pan.

UNFOLD the puff pastry sheet and set it over the pan. Use a paring knife to cut slits to vent. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the puff pastry is golden brown and the inside is bubbling.

Nutrition information: Per serving: 290 calories, 150 calories from fat (52 percent of total calories), 16 grams fat (8 grams saturated, 0 grams trans fats), 40 milligrams cholesterol, 31 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 5 grams sugar, 6 grams protein, 160 milligrams sodium.


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