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Making Your Own Recipe: Debbie Macomber Embraces Creative Cooking

Author explains how food can connect generations — and she shares a Guinness potpie recipe

A potpie Debbie Macomber made with Guinness.

Dave Lauridsen

In my kitchen, I have a little octagon-shaped turret, and its shelves are filled with cookbooks. I must have about 200. In front of those is my mother’s cardboard recipe holder from the 1940s — when she was a young wife — and next to that is the green tin recipe box I used in high school home ec. Some of my mother’s recipes are in my box, and I’ve passed along some of my recipes to my daughters and daughters-in-law. Food is love and appreciation, but it’s also a way of connecting one generation to the next. 

Still, you have to keep things fresh. I love experimenting in the kitchen. For me, creativity is for all of life; it’s not just for when I sit down to write.

A few years ago my husband, Wayne, and I took a vacation to Ireland, and I was amazed at how different Guinness beer tastes there, because it’s unpasteurized. Wayne loves Guinness, and I love potpies, so when we got back home, I decided to combine the two, and I think I created the perfect cozy winter dish. The heroine of my new book is a sous-chef in Alaska, and I can see her tucking into this Guinness potpie on a frigid evening. Of course, she’d make hers with moose meat, not beef.

Wayne and I raised four kids together. Now it’s just the two of us at home, but I still haven’t broken the habit of cooking for six, so this is a generous recipe. Fortunately, my daughter stops by almost every day, and she gets some of the leftovers. Who knows? Maybe one day one of my grandkids will be cooking this dish. 

Debbie Macomber rolling dough in a kitchen.

Dave Lauridsen

Debbie Macomber, 70, has written dozens of novels — the latest is "Alaskan Holiday" — as well as "Debbie Macomber’s Table," from which the below recipe is adapted.

Guinness potpie recipe 

Ingredients (serves 8)

1 box frozen puff pastry

2 pounds beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes

½ teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil 

1 large onion, diced

3 stalks celery, diced

8 ounces mushrooms, stems trimmed, remainder quartered 

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons tomato paste

¼ cup flour

1 teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon dried rosemary

2 cups Guinness beer

1 cup beef broth

3 cups russet potatoes, diced

1 12-ounce package frozen peas and carrots

1 egg

1 tablespoon water 


1. Heat oven to 275°F. Defrost pastry. Season beef with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown beef, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove to bowl. 

2. In same pot, heat remaining oil. Add onion, celery and mushrooms; cook until onion is translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic; cook for about 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste, flour and herbs; cook for 2 minutes. Stir in Guinness, broth, beef and potatoes. Place in lower third of oven; cook for 2½ hours, stirring once.

3. Remove from oven. Move rack to center; raise heat to 425°F. Stir peas and carrots into pot. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

4. Ladle filling into two 2-quart baking dishes. Cut pastry to cover each dish; drape on top. Whisk egg with water and brush over pastry. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Serve.

Nutrients per serving: 741 calories, 31g protein, 48g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 46g fat, 124mg cholesterol, 508mg sodium

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