Look, I am a Topless…. Tartlet!

Chili Beef & Potato in Bulgur Crust

In one of my red meat cravings (yes, I do have those!), I develop the idea for these beef tartlets inspired by an interesting sounding recipe from Charlie Trotter. His version includes a red-wine braised oxtail with potatoes in rich and buttery crust. When it comes to braised meat, I prefer a spicy and more aromatic version so I choose to do a Sichuan-style chili beef instead. The stew is packed with flavours, a fantastic way of cooking meat.

But it is the crust that I want to talk a little more about. It is not the normal buttery crust which I feel is too heavy for the Asian-style beef stew. So, a bit of experiment is undertaken with a bulgur crust. Here, the bulgur gives a bit of crunch and a nutty flavour. Without having to use butter, the crust is lighter and pairs well with the spicy beef. However, I am still developing a better way of dealing with the crust. Getting the crust out of the tartlet moulds, even the removable bottom ones, is a bit of a problem. Perhaps next time I will aim for a much thicker crust, or do a free-from tart instead.

These tasty tartlets, although still in development, are my entry to Waiter, There´s something in my Topless Tarts hosted by the Cooksister.

Chili Beef & Potato in Bulgur Crust

I have included here the recipe for the filling. The beef stew itself can be part of an Asian meal with rice. It can be sketched out for 15-20 medium size tartlets (10 cm diameter). Just adjust the amount of beef and boiled potatoes accordingly.

Chili Beef & Potato in Bulgur Crust

The Filling #1: Sichuan-style Braised Beef

Recipe adapted from this book


1.5kg mixture of oxtail & beef short ribs*
2-3 inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced
4 scallions, white and green parts, trimmed
3 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
6 tbsp Sichuan chili bean paste (click here for product info)
Beef stock, as needed
4 tbsp. Shao Hsing wine
2 tsp. dark soy sauce
1 tsp. whole Sichuan peppercorns, toasted
1 whole star anise


Trim off the fat from the meat. Season the meat with salt & pepper and brown it carefully. Put all ingredients except for the stock in a slow cooker. Put in enough stock to just cover the meat. Cook in “Low” mode for 5-6 hours (I let it simmer overnight) or until tender. You can braise the meat in a stove top or in a Dutch oven. Remember braising these cuts of meat takes time but it is worth it!

* You can also substitute with other meat like lamb, chicken or pork. Adjust cooking time accordingly.

Filling#2 – Boiled potato slices: optional

The Bulgur Crust

Still in development. But it is based on a recipe from Raymond Blanc. I used half of this recipe for the above filling. But it might be better to have a thicker crust, so you may need a bit more.

400g fine bulgur, 400ml water, 1 tsp fine seal salt, 4 tbsp olive oil

Boil the water. Pour over the bulgur. Cover and let stand for 1 hour.

In a floured surface, work with the bulgur. Add in a few tablespoons of whole-meal flour. Add more water as needed so everything bind together. The mixture will be a bit wet. Let the dough rest for 10-15 mins before proceed.

Assembling the Tart

For the filling, carefully shred the cooked meat from the bone. Discard the bone. Strain the cooking juice into a saucepan. Bring to the boil and reduce by 1/3 – this will be served with the tart later.

Put a piece of dough into the removable bottom tartlet rings (10cm size). Push and press the dough so you have a fairly thick crust. Repeat with the remaining dough. Bake in pre-heated oven at 200C for 8-10 mins or until golden. Cool down.

Arrange the potato slices into the tart base, then, the meat filling. I also add some chili jam, but this is optional. Bake in the oven for 10 mins. Cool the tartlets down so it will be easy to remove.

Serve warm or at room temp, drizzling with some warmed reduce sauce. Accompanied by a simple salad.

32 Responses to Look, I am a Topless…. Tartlet!

  1. Manggy says:

    Excellent recipe, Anh. (I still want rice with the Sichuan beef though– so much for being a foodie haha.) Chili bean sauce is fortunately very common these days. Is it wrong I also want a bit of sugar in it (sweet tooth!!)? I love braised beef, it’s about the only way I would want to eat beef these days (except sliced thinly and fried– a recipe for another day)!

  2. Andaliman says:

    hmmm sichuan chili bean paste

  3. Lydia says:

    I think this is the first beef “tart” I’ve ever seen — what a great idea!

  4. Pam says:

    The Sichuan beef sounds wonderful. I think I’d like to try it with a rice crust.

  5. Graeme says:

    The beef looks incredibly delicious, Anh. I love it when it’s done the way you have, although it does make it easy to eat too much, lol.

  6. Coffee & Vanilla says:


  7. Lucy says:

    Love that bulgar crust Anh.

  8. Anh says:

    Manggy, rice is ok, too! Plenty of meat for you to do that. And I so have a sweet tooth – that is why I serve this with some chili jam which is both spicy and sweet at the same time. :P

  9. Nora B. says:

    Hi Anh, this is such a terrific combination of flavours and textures. I forgot all about a savoury tart when I saw the event announcement. Too late to participate now, never mind, next time. :-)

  10. Peabody says:

    A great looking tart…and topless at that…how scandelous.

  11. Amrita says:

    love it, anh! looks so tempting!

  12. Dhanggit says:

    wow this sounds to be a good entree with some salad!! its the first time i heard of beef on tartlettes..i think its worth a try looking at your photos..i will definitely try this with left-over meat from the tajine i made last night :-)

  13. Y says:

    What an interesting crust to use for a tart! Sounds like it would have been quite tricky to work with. And the beef.. MMmm.. I could eat that with a really big bowl of rice! :)

  14. myfrenchkitchen says:

    These tartlets look absolutely delicious! I will definitely try the beef.

  15. Anh says:

    Peabody, thanks. I am glad that meat can make a tart look good.

  16. Patricia Scarpin says:

    This is so wonderful, Anh – I don’t eat beef and I’m salivating. :)

  17. Ann says:

    These look wonderful.. must try them!

  18. Cookie baker Lynn says:

    A Sezchuan savory tart sounds excellent. And of course, coming from you, it’s beautiful as well.

  19. Retno Prihadana says:

    Nice recipe Anh!

  20. Aimée says:

    This would be a lovely tart for a diner party. Love the whole combination. I don’t know if my mother would approve of the ‘topless’part, though…:)

  21. StickyGooeyCreamyChewy says:

    This is a great idea! I don’t know why, but I never think of savory when I think of tarts. It is almost like a pot pie without a top crust. It looks delicious!

  22. david mcmahon says:

    G’day from a fellow Melburnian,

  23. tigerfish says:

    Another creative masterpiece from you! And it sounds so delicious!

  24. Kevin says:

    Nice looking tarts! Nice photos. The bulgar crust sounds interesting.

  25. bee says:

    anh, there’s something fo you at jugalbandi – two things, actually.

  26. Anh says:

    Pat, you are so sweet.

  27. winedeb says:

    The spicy beef would suit our family fine. We love spicy food, especially hubby who I grow all of our hot peppers. Ready for some beef after all the turkey last week!

  28. ilingc says:

    Hi Anh, this is the first time I’ve ever come across a beef tart. It looks fab! Love the potato slices underneath it and bulghur crust wow! It looks like it would just melt in your mouth.

  29. Jeanne says:

    Oh Anh, now see what you’ve done – I’m drooling all over the keyboard :) These look phenomenally good, and I adore the idea of the nutty bulgur crust. Thanks for daring to go topless for this month’s event!

  30. Cakelaw says:

    These look and sound fantastic – and I love a little chilli. I will be trying this.

  31. suz says:

    You’re becoming one of my favorite website the more I keep reading! =) Congrats on your photo awards. Well deserving!

  32. Shella says:

    You make me drool. The sichuan beef being the main reason for my salivating.

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