Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Cornish Pasty

British food is sometimes unfairly maligned. Partly that is because many of the basic British meals were incorporated into American cuisine (such as eggs and bacon, or sandwiches) and sometimes because the names just sound funny.

Cornish pasties are the simple, filling meals that laborers used to take to their jobs. I encountered pasties again at the Renaissance Faire and decided I had to both look it up and share with everyone. The following recipe is a conglomerate of the many recipes I encountered on my search.

For the crust, you will need:
4 cups plain flour
1 1/2 cups butter or lard (or shortening)
1/8 tsp salt
8-10 tsp water

Mix butter and flour until rough lumps form. Add salt; gradually add water until dough forms ball. Put aside in cool place.

Or do the shortcut, frozen pie crust. Turn the crust over on waxed paper; remove tin as soon as it releases from dough. Let it thaw and flatten gently.

For the filling, you will need:
Beef— ground beef, chuck steak, round steak, any except stew beef
Raw potato
Raw rutabaga or carrot or celery or mushroom
Small onion
Parsley or green onion (optional)
Salt and pepper
Bouillon cube (optional)

Cut meat into small pieces. Slice potatoes and other vegetables into small pieces no more than 1/2 inch across; dice onion finely. Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thick, cut out circles and moisten edges. Layer vegetables, then meat; repeat but do not overfill (or you get what happened to me, a messy pasty. Oh well.) Sprinkle with spice (and bouillon if using), dot with butter.

Fold the pasty and crimp the edge (mine got away from me). Brush with egg. Bake at 400º for 15 minutes, then lower to 350º and bake until golden— 10-15 minutes if small and up to 40 for large pasties.

Pasties, of course, have a large variance in fillings. I've seen it suggested that you try chicken, or parsley, shallots, spinach, egg, and bacon, or even the traditional pie apples and brown sugar. On site even suggested having a savory side and a sweet side, marked so that you can eat from dinner to dessert in one pasty. (If you do that, make sure the two sides go together, such as sausage and potato with apples and cinnamon.) Once you get good at them (I'm not), you can prebake them and wrap them up to take to work.

That is what they're designed for, after all.

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