I grew up eating pasties, so it surprises me that some people have never even heard of them. Last week I made them for our Norwegian Feast. Pasties are definitely not Norwegian, but I wanted my friends could get a little taste of my heritage as well.
My grandmother’s ancestors came from the Cornwall, England area, where pasties are thought to have originated. Grandma grew up on the Minnesota Iron Range, where they were also a common meal. Pasties were a hearty and satisfying lunch for wives to send with their miner husbands. The crust acted as an insulator and kept the insides warm, and he could eat it by holding it in his hands.
Nearly 100 years later, I’m still making them for my family. Making pasties is not a quick process. The chopping of the veggies and dough preparation can turn it into an all-afternoon project. However, you can make lots of them at once. I make a double or triple batch so I can enjoy pasties all winter long. Cook them partially (about halfway) and freeze for later.
How to Make Pasties
For me, the dough is the hardest part of the pasty. I have never quite been able to get it right. I either overwork it and its tough, or not enough and it tastes good but is too crumbly. One of these years I’ll get the hang of it.
I actually don’t mind chopping the veggies. While that part can be time-consuming, it’s easy. Put a good show on TV and chop while you’re watching. I happened to be watching Downton Abbey while I chopped. Oh, such a very British night. I was definitely channeling Mrs. Patmore. We almost look alike, don’t you think?
- Cornish Pasty Crust Recipe
- 2 C. flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- ⅔ C. lard or vegetable shortening*
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 6-8 Tbsp. ice water
- Cornish Pasty Fillings
- 1½ C. minced onion
- 3 C. diced potato
- 1½ C. sliced carrots**
- 1-1/2 lb. beef steak, cubed (sirloin or round)***
- 1-1/2 lb. pork steak, cubed***
- Parsley, chopped (fresh)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Butter wedges
- For Crust: Mix dry ingredients together, then add shortening bit by bit until mixture becomes mealy. Add ice water one tablespoon at a time until a dough has been formed. This makes enough dough for three large pasties or four medium-sized pasties. Form dough into a ball and cut into three or four equal sizes. Roll out each ball and then add pasty fillings below. For Filling: On top of the dough that you’ve just rolled out, layer minced onion, potatoes, carrots, beef steak, pork steak, parsley. Add a couple butter wedges and season with salt and pepper. Fold the top of the pasty dough over the filling ingredients and seal the edges (mine was not fancy, but if you’re a skilled pastry chef you can do fluted edges). Bake your pasties at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 375 degrees and cook one hour more. If you’re going to be freezing them to eat later, cook for 45 minutes instead of an hour. When ready to cook, heat them for about a half hour at 375 degrees. *The original recipe that my grandmother used called for lard, but I substitute Crisco. **Many other traditional pasty recipes call for rutabaga or turnip, but we’ve never used that. It was a recipe that my grandmother handed down to my mom, and now to me. ***For me, packs of beef and pork sirloin came in 1-1½ lb. packages. That was enough for a double recipe of pasties, or save half and freeze to use later.