Heat 2 cups of water in the microwave until steaming. Place the porcini dried mushrooms in a bowl and add the hot water. Stir to submerge all mushrooms. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes.
Strain the porcini mushrooms and liquid through a sieve into another medium bowl. Place the mushrooms on a cutting board and roughly chop them. Save the strained liquid.
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Season the meat with salt and pepper.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heatproof pot (preferably a Dutch oven) over medium-high heat and sear the meat until browned all over. You'll probably need to do this in batches. Set aside.
At this point, if excess liquid (fat) has accumulated in the pot, discard most of it.
Over medium heat, in the same pot, add the onions and carrots, adding a little more oil, then sauté until starting to get soft, about 8 minutes.
Add in the sugar and flour, stirring to coat and make a roux, about 4 minutes.
Add the meat, and any collected juices, back into the pot and mix with a wooden spoon.
Warm the stock (either in the microwave or on the stove). Crumble the bouillon cubes into and whisk until dissolved.
Add in the Guinness, stock, balsamic, porcini mushrooms, and the porcini soaking liquid.
Tie together the thyme, parsley and bay leaf and nestle into the pot.
Add 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp black pepper.
Cover with lid and place in preheated oven for 3 hours.
While the stew is cooking, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, until crisp. Drain on a paper-towel-lined plate. Roughly chop and set aside.
Add the mushrooms and cook until they have released their liquid and starting to turn golden. Set aside.
Once the stew is finished, stir in the bacon/mushroom mixture.
Increase oven temperature to 425°F. Liberally grease your ramekins or pie dish/pan with softened butter or cooking spray.
Roll out the first pie dough to about ¼" to ⅛" thickness. If using ramekins, cut 4 circles out that are about 2 to 3 inches wider in diameter than the top of each ramekin. If using a pie dish/pan, cut a circle out that is about 2 inches wider in diameter than the top of the pie dish/plate.
Line the ramekins (or pie dish/pan) with the cut dough with overhang. Use scissors (or knife) to trim away the excess dough. The dough should just reach the top of the dish.
Par bake the dough in the oven, using pie weights, or lining the bottom of the dough with parchment paper and adding dried beans. Bake for about 12 minutes and then remove from oven and remove weights or beans/parchment paper.
Lower oven temperature back t 325°F.
Add the beef to the dish using a slotted spoon so not too much sauce goes into the pie.
Fill until the meat mixture is slightly higher than the rim of the dish. You may have extra stew...that's okay, it freezes beautifully and is also delicious by itself.
Roll out the remaining dough to the same thickness and cut a circle just big enough to cover the ramekins or dish/pan.
Brush the edges of par-baked pastry with the egg wash, then cover with the dough top(s).
Crimp the edges of the dough to seal them together, then re-roll your trimmings to make a decoration (i.e., tree leaves), if you prefer.
Use a sharp knife to make two large slits in the top dough, then add the decorations (if using), and then brush the top generously with the egg wash.
Sprinkle the coarse sea salt and black pepper over the top. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until golden.
Remove from the oven and place on a baking rack for 10 to 20 minutes. Serve and enjoy!