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Original Cornish Pasty

At last week's pickup I mentioned a recipe for making Pastys (pronounced "passed-ees", not "pay-stees")-- they're a favorite in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, as well as parts of northern Wisconsin. There are still a couple of Pasty shops around in those places, especially on the northern side of the Mackinac bridge (that connects Upper and Lower Michigan).

Historically, they're a food made for copper miners-- a hearty, self-contained lunch that could be wrapped in paper and put into one's pocket for a long day down underground. My relatives in the UP still make them in the winter (which starts fiercely in October!). Make a big batch, they freeze well.

One can either make a crust of one's own (the recipe here), or use a pre-made pie crust. This recipe pretty much nails it, although I changed a couple of things to match what we do:

Original Cornish Pasty (Milwaukee Journal, March 28, 1943)

Crust

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter (cold and cut into bits)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 tablespoons water

In a large bowl, combine flour, butter, and salt. Blend ingredients until well combined, and add water, one tablespoon at a time to form a dough. Toss mixture until it forms a ball. Kneed dough lightly against a smooth surface with the heel of the hand to distribute the fat evenly. Form into a ball, dust with flour, wrap in wax paper, and chill for 30 minutes.

Filling

  • about 2 pounds round steak, coarsely ground (i.e, lean hamburger)
  • 5 carrots, chopped
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 large rutabaga, cubed (can substitute turnip)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • butter

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Divide the dough into 6 pieces, and roll one of the pieces into a 10-inch round on a lightly floured surface. Put 1 1/2 cups of filling on half of the round. Put a pat of butter on top of the filling. Moisten the edges and fold the unfilled half over the filling to enclose it. Pinch the edges together to seal them, and crimp them decoratively with a fork. Transfer the pasty to a lightly buttered baking sheet and poke several holes in the top. Roll out and fill the remaining dough in the same manner. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 45 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven, cover with a damp tea towel, and cool for 15 minutes.

Serve with cold ketchup, although some purists also like them with brown gravy.

Enjoy!

Steve Savitski

Village Acres Farm CSA member
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