1 ¾ pounds beef round or blade, trimmed and cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
2 medium carrots, chopped
2/3 cup pitted prunes
2 cups Guinness or other quality stout
1 cup beef stock
2 bay leaves
1 bouquet garni
salt & pepper to taste
5 rounds puff pastry dough (to fit tops of ramekins)
milk or egg wash
Pre-heat oven to 325°F. Dredge beef lightly in seasoned flour. Heat oil in a flame-proof casserole dish and brown beef, in batches, until well browned all over.
Remove beef, add onion and carrot and cook until onion begins to change color.
Add beef, prunes, stout, stock, bay leaves and bouquet garni, and stir well to dislodge any cooked-on material from the base of the pan. Cover, place in oven, and cook for 90 minutes, or until beef is tender.
Strain, reserving the liquid and removing the herbs. Increase oven temperature to 400°F. Divide beef, vegetables and prunes between five generous ramekins. Pour liquid from casserole dish into a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer hard until reduced to desired consistency.
Pour liquid over beef in ramekin, then top each ramekin with a round of puff pastry dough, sealing the edges well and remembering to cut a hole for steam. Decorate as desired and brush well with milk or egg wash. Return pies to oven until pastry lids are golden-brown. Serve pies with seasonal vegetables.