Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Beef and Root Pasties with Stout

There are few things in this world that truly deserve being dubbed "quaint." However, there is a bar in northeast Portland that wholly merits such a label. A Michigan-style pub, Saraveza feels very cozy with its ever-frosted windows and woody atmosphere. The first thing I tell people about their pub, though, is that they have Hamms on tap and it's the only beer they serve in a frosted mug. I love it! Plus you are given your beer, which is spilling over with foam, by arguably the best bartender I've known. 

Anyway, enough unsolicited promotion of my favorite bar. The point is that they make delicious pasties. Before trying their version of this commonly vilified dish, I had believed pasties to be a boring tradition of Midwestern cuisine.  The only pasty I remember eating before was filled with tasteless ground beef and cold mashed potatoes.  But the pasties at Saraveza are stuffed with a deliciously flavorful stew wrapped in a crisp pastry.  Each pasty is served with an unusual variety of pickled vegetables and a selection of homemade sauces, my favorite being a habanero sweet mustard. 

The pasty I always order at Saraveza is The Nater, which has a slow-cooked beef porter stew with carrots and rutabaga.  The following recipe is my best attempt at remaking this tasty dish. If you are unable to find rutabaga or parsnip, then regular and/or sweet potatoes should also work well in this stew.

If making a bunch of pasties seems like too much work, then enjoy this recipe as a standalone stew.  Also, since you likely won't need 8 freshly baked pasties at once, these freeze very well. Prepare all the pasties, except do not brush the tops with the egg mixture. Freeze in a securely sealed bag. When baking, make sure to brush the frozen pasties with an egg milk mixture and bake for about 45 minutes.

Beef and Root Pasties with Stout
adapted from Epicurious

makes 8 pasties

1 1/2 lbs chuck, cut in 2-inch cubes
3 Tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
3 Tbsp water
2 medium sized carrots
2-3 parsnips
1 rutabaga
1 pint good tasting stout or porter (I used Ninkasi's Oatmeal Stout)
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried thyme leaves or a large sprig of fresh 
1 bay leaf

1 recipe of pate brisee
1 egg
about 2 Tbsp milk

Pate Brisee (pastry dough for pasties)

2 1/2 cups white flour (I replaced 1/2 cup of white with whole wheat pastry flour)
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) very cold butter, cut in 1-inch cubes
1/4 - 1/2 cup ice cold water

Make pastry dough. Mix flour and salt together in a large bowl or food processor. Cut in butter with a fork or by pulsing in processor until very coarse (pea-sized) crumbs have formed. Slowly add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough sticks together when pinched. Or, in food processor, pulse until dough comes together in a ball.  Form dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate while making the pasty stew.

Make the stew. Peel carrots, parsnips and the rutabaga. Chop into large bite-sized pieces. Combine flour, salt, and black pepper in a shallow bowl. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a large oven-proof pan or dutch oven on medium high. Lightly coat each piece of meat in flour mixture, shaking with a fork to remove excess coating. Brown meat in batches for about 5 minutes each, or until deep brown on all sides. Set aside.

Turn down heat to medium. Add about a tablespoon of oil to pan.  Throw in onions, garlic and water. Fry for about 2 minutes or until onion just starts to become translucent.  Add carrots, parsnips, and rutabaga. Saute for 4 to 5 minutes.  Stir in beef, beer, Worcestershire, thyme, and bay leaf.

Let cook in oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until beef is very tender. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Shred any large pieces of meat with two forks. Remove pastry dough from fridge.

Turn up oven temperature to 400 degrees. Divide pastry dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each into a ball.  Beat egg and milk in a small bowl.

Roll out one ball on a lightly floured surface until about 7 inches in diameter and 1/4-inch thick. Pile on about a 1/2 cup of beef stew, leaving plenty of room on the edges of the pastry round.  With a pastry brush, lightly brush egg mixture on the edge of one half of the pastry. Carefully fold over dough and seal with a fork. Poke a few holes with a fork to allow steam to escape.

Brush with more egg mixture.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with quality mustard, ketchup, or barbecue sauce. 


  1. Autumn

    Looks like a great pasty recipe and I look forward to making some deer or carbiou filled ones. I need to eat more finish inspired food!

    Hey do you have any good recipes for a warm salmon dip like the typical smoked salmon dips people make. Looking for a good recipe for tonight....

  2. Autumn. Yumza, you rule. I think I'm going to give this one a go go go! Also, um, I want to hang out with you...