beef ‘n ale tarts (and meat pies too!)

I’ve got to tell you, I’m tired.

It’s been a long week of writing.  I’ve been putting on my consulting hat a number of times over the past few days (including some pro bono work).  And I’ve been battling a cold.

Maybe it is just the February blahs, but I’ve been dragging my ass for days.

And yet, Saturday is here, and I’m needing my hockey night pub grub.

It’s times like this that a chef depends on his staff for the grunt work on a menu.  He gets the sous chef to whip the brigade into action and has each of the station cooks maxed out in getting things just right.

There’s a problem using this model in the Farm to Table kitchen, however.  First of all, I’m not a chef, per se.  Second of all, I have no staff.

I do, however, have a side-kick, partner and house-pâtissière.  Thank you, Krista.  While you may not know it, you’ll be carrying the brunt of this tired Saturday evening dish.  I’ll even be a good husband and get your pastry ingredients together.

Tonight, we’re going to face the winter blahs with a hearty and homey pub dish: Beef and Ale Pies.  These little tarts are my Central Ontario take on Steak and Guinness pie, but in tart form — with a top and bottom crust.  They will be the perfect showcase for some late winter local ingredients, and a wonderful pairing with our local Publican House Seasonal Dark Ale.

Because I have the ingredients out, I’ll also make up some Savoury Beef Tarts to put in the freezer. They can act as an even easier tired Saturday night treat in the future.

Krista will be home soon. I best get the fillings together.

As usual, scroll down for the local growers/suppliers of my ingredients. *note* I use a homemade tomato paste. I’ll blog instructions on the paste at a later date.

Beef and Ale Filling

2 tbsp clarified butter
2 lbs stewing beef (1 inch cubes)
1 tbs all-purpose flour
1 tbsp red fife wheat flour
2 tsp course black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
250 ml beef stock
250 ml dark ale
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 to 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp dried rosemary leaves
1/4 cup water

1. heat butter in deep saucepan.
2. dredge beef in flour/salt/pepper.
3. brown beef in small batches — 5 minutes per batch — and remove to clean bowl.
4. deglaze with garlic/onion/water and saute until onion is just soft.
5. add beef, tomato paste, stock, ale, worcestershire, thyme and rosemary
6. cover and braise on low, bubbling, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours

Savoury Ground Beef Filling

2 lbs ground beef
2 tsp course black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
125 ml beef stock
125 ml dark ale
2 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 to 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp dried rosemary leaves
1/4 cup water

1. Mix all ingredients.
2. Brown over medium high heat, skimming fat.

Notes on the Tarts by Krista:

Unsweetened Pastry (recipe unabashedly borrowed from Moosewood cook book, with some notes for guidance)
6 tbsp butter (cut into small pieces)
1 1/2 cups flour
about 4tbsp cold water

1. Cut together butter and flour (I just use a fork)
2. Add just enough water to hold the dough together (mix with finger tips)
3. Roll out dough and cut to fit into tart shells
*Notes: rolling the dough between two sheets of parchment or waxed paper can make it easier to roll out; plan carefully so you are able to handle the dough as little as possible as you cut the crusts and lids (if you have to re-roll some scraps, use them for the lids)
4. Add filling
5. Dampen the edges of the crust & place the lids and pinch closed.
6. Seal by pressing a fork around the edges, cut off excess pastry & puncture the lid a few times
7. Bake at 400F for 25 – 35 minutes (until edges are brown and filing is bubbling!)

Local Producers:
Clarified butter: clarified from Sterling Butter (Sterling)
Stewing beef: private local supplier
All-purpose flour: Merrylynd Farm (Lakefield)
Red fife wheat flour: Merrylynd Farm (Lakefield)
Onion: Beyers Farm (Peterborough)
Garlic: Gaelic Garlic (Peterborough)
Beef stock: Farm to Table
Henry’s Irish Ale: Publican House Brewery (Peterborough)
Tomato paste: Farm to Table