Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Herbed Beef Pasties with Carrot and Parsnip

When I need to make meat, I know to turn to my carnivorous friends.  Laura makes meat like it's her job, which I suppose as a mom of a house full of boys, it kind of is.  Luckily it's not my job, but there are times - such as Jesse's birthday dinner - that I find myself needing a good meat recipe.  Laura suggested herbed beef pasties.  They're English hand pies, little beef pies surrounded by flaky pastry.  This recipe also had carrots and turnips and lots of fresh herbs.  I figured I could suck it up and give this a try, and even make a couple pasties without the beef for myself.  So I donned a pair of rubber gloves and got to work.

Don't get overwhelmed by making your own pastry dough.  It was so easy!  You can make it in a food processor if you want.  I ended up making mine by hand simply because I was also making an apple pie and already had a bowl dirty from making pie crust.  Since the recipes are nearly identical, I just reused the bowl and pastry cutter.  But if you used a food processor, you'd have pastry dough chilling in the fridge in less than 5 minutes.  Don't skip this step and buy some cardboard dough at the store.  The pastry is flaky and golden and delicious.

The filling of these pasties is cubed steak and diced carrot, parsnip, and onion.  They're flavored with fresh rosemary and thyme.  None of it gets pre-cooked, which definitely speeds up this recipe more than I expected.

The dough gets rolled out, the filling filled, and you seal them shut and brush them with a little egg wash.  Bake for 45 minutes, serve with some dijon mustard, and voila: pasties!  They may not be the perfect weeknight meal, but I promise you that they are much quicker and easier than they look.  They look like you spent all day slaving over them (which is perfect for a birthday dinner... even if you then drink a bottle of wine by yourself and sort of ruin the rest of the evening... you know, hypothetically).


herbed beef pasties with carrot and parsnip
from An Edible Mosaic
yields 8 - 10 pasties

pastry dough:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon fine salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter, diced
5 - 7 tablespoons ice water
3/4 pound raw beef steak (I used sirloin), trimmed of fat and diced into 1/4-inch cubes
1 cup carrot, diced into 1/4-inch cubes (about 2 medium or 1 large carrot)
1 cup parsnip, diced into 1/4-inch cubes (about 2 medium or 1 large parsnip)
1 small onion, diced
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
dijon mustard, for serving (optional)


1) Start by making the pastry dough.  Pulse together the flour and salt in a food processor.  Add the butter and pulse until it looks like coarse meal with the pieces of butter about the size of small peas.  Alternatively, this can be done by hand; whisk the flour and salt together in a large bowl and cut in the butter with a pastry cutter.  Transfer the dough from the food processor to a large bowl.  Add 1 tablespoon water at a time, working the dough together with your fingertips until it just comes together, only adding enough water so the dough comes together when you squeeze it.  Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, roll each into a ball, place them in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.

2) While the pastry chills, stir together all filling ingredients in a large bowl.  Set aside.

3) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat liners.

4) Working with 1 ball of dough at a time, roll it out on a floured surface to a circle about 8 inches in diameter.  Use a plate as a guide to trim the edges so you have a perfect circle.  Spoon about 1/2 cup of filling into the center of the dough; lightly brush the edge of the dough with egg wash.  Fold both sides of dough up over the filling and crimp the edges together in the center to form a tight seal.  Continue this way until 8 pasties are assembled.  If there is filling left over, re-roll the dough scraps and continue making pasties until you run out of filling or dough.

5) Arrange the pasties into the prepared baking sheets and lightly brush each with egg wash.  Bake for 15 minutes, rotating the trays once halfway through.  Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake until the crusts are golden brown, about 30 minutes more, rotating the trays once halfway through.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

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