The pasty is the British version, more precisely the Cornish version, of the uibiquitous meat pie. I love them. When I was in seminary I would wander down to Harvard Square on Saturday morning to the small shop which sold a passable version of them. It provided sustenance before beginning a long day in the library. The original pasty was portable food for the tin miners in Cornwall, who kept them in their pockets and ate them for lunch.
Jane Garmey in Great British Cooking: a Well-Kept Secret tells us that "A pasty is a turnover that is usually filled with meat but may have other fillings. When times were hard and meat was scarce, the pasties were filled with potatoes and called Tiddy Oggies (tiddy being the local name for a potato), not be confused with Priddy Oggies, which came from the town of Priddy in nearby Somerset and were filled with pork and Cheddar cheese. "
I was quite surprised to find a pasty on the menu of the Deluth Grill. Since it was the special that day, I decided to satisfy my curiosity about it.
Indeed, it was a very fine pasty. I quite enjoyed it even though I couldn't justify it by working in the heat of the tin or iron mines for the rest of the day. The question remained: What was a Cornish Pasty doing in a restaurant in Duluth Minnesota?
When the Iron Range opened in northern Minnesota, there was a need for skilled workers. The mines were closing in Cornwall and that left an entire generation of young men unemployed . Learning of the opportunities in Minnesota they emmigrated and, as immigrants do, they brought with them their native foods. There is much debate about who makes the best pasty and what constitutes the true original form of the pie. Folks here take great pride in making them well and I think that no matter whose version you are tasting, you won't go wrong.
This version is from Jane Garmey.
These are generously sized and will serve 4 people.
one recipe shortcut pastry
For the Filling
- 12 ounces chuck steak
- 1 medium-sized onion finely chopped
- 1 turnip or 2 small carrots, finely chopped
- 1 large potato, finely chopped
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Prepare the pastry.
Remove any skin or gristle from the meat and chop it into very small cubes. Mix it the vegetables and season generously with salt and pepper.
Roll out the pastry until it is approximately 1/4-inch thick. Cut it into 6-inch rounds, using a plate or a saucer to measure each circle. Lay the rounds on a flat surface and place an equal portion of the steak mixture in the center of each round in the shape of a little sausage.
Brush the rim of each pasty with a little beaten egg and bring the sides up to meet in the middle over the top of the filling. Pinch the edges together and shape each pasty into an oval mound. Make two splits on either side of the crest so that steam can escape while the pasty is cooking.
Put the pasties on a greased baking sheet and brush the outsides with the remaining egg. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 , reduce the heat to 350 and bake for 40 minutes longer.
Remove the pasties from the oven and serve warm.
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 ounces unsalted butter
- 4 ounces lard
- 1 tablespoon confectioners's sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 3 tablespoons cold water
Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Cut the butter and lard into small pieces and mix them into the flour with the blade of a knife until they are well coated. Using your fingertips, rub in the fat until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar. Mix the egg yolk with the water and pour into the flour. Mix quickly with a palette knife until it forms a dough. Knead the pastry lightly until it is smooth and has no cracks. Wrap it in waxed paper and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.