Thursday, February 14, 2013

Many Thanks To Cornwall for the Pasty

Whatever the true origin of the Pasty, they are nice looking and even nicer to eat. They were popular Cornish miner lunches back in the day, and are traditionally stuffed with meat cubes and rutabaga or turnip. They are also a fantastic make-ahead camping food. Wrap them in foil and heat them up near (but not too near) the coals and you will be a happy camper. My version is a bit different and is created like so:

Ingredients for the filling:

1 1/2 lbs beef chuck, cubed
1/3 cup flour
1 large potato, cubed
1 medium carrot or parsnip, diced
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil or clarified butter
2 teaspoons celery salt (or more to your taste)
2 tablespoons dried thyme
1 tablespoon black pepper (let's not be stingy)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Enough water or chicken stock to not-quite cover the ingredients, this will depend on the size of your pan.

Heat the oil in a pot over high heat, then add the cubed beef that you have dusted with the flour. Brown the meat for five minutes, then throw the rest of the ingredients right in the pot. Cook on low UNCOVERED for at least one hour, stirring gently on occasion. I want you to cook it until it is really thick and dry. You want the juices to look more like gravy than soup. You will get some stuck to the bottom of the pan, which is okay (just soak the pan before you try to scrub it). Let the filling cool down significantly before you stuff your pasties.

Ingredients for the pasty dough:

1 1/2 lbs. all purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
6 oz. cold lard
2 oz. cold butter
8 oz. cold water, or slightly more if your flour is dry

Sift the dry ingredients together with a sifter or just shake them through a strainer, then cut in the cold fats using a pastry cutter or a large fork. 

Add the cold water and mix with your hands. You want to dough to all stick together, if it doesn't, this is when you drizzle extra water if you think you need it, but the dough should be dry and stiff.

Now don't think of this as a pie crust, it's not. You don't want some crumbly thing that won't hold together. At this point, unlike pie crust, you are actually going to knead this hard dough for a minute until it feels smooth-ish instead of chunky and grainy.  Wrap your dough in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for 30-40 minutes. DON'T SKIP THE REFRIGERATION!

When the pastry is ready, divide it into 6 pieces. Roll each piece out to about a ten inch round circle with your rolling pin. You can lightly dust your board with flour, but this isn't a sticky dough, so you hardly need to. 

Place a nice generous semi-circle shaped blob of filling on one side of each circle, then fold the dough over to cover it. Press the edges together and either mash the edge with a fork to crimp it closed, OR crimp it like the edge of an apple pie (which is what I did), OR roll the edge over and squish the it down so it looks like a rope. Here's a great YouTube video that shows you how to do it: Pasty Crimping

Brush the tops of the pasties with an egg wash, and bake on a cookie sheet in a 325 degree oven for 45 minutes, but raise the heat to 350 at the end and cook ten minutes longer to get more color on the top if you like.

Pasties ready for the oven