(British beef and vegetable pies)
Pasties — handheld pies with a savory filling — have been enjoyed in Europe since the Middle Ages. But the Cornish pasty, from the English county of Cornwall, is the most famous of all.
This meal-in-one classic was a favorite of Cornish coal miners of old, and it now enjoys protected status by the European Commission. To qualify, a Cornish pasty may contain only beef, potatoes, rutabaga and onion. No carrots please! Rutabagas, as they are known in the United States, are called swedes in most of Great Britain, and turnips in Cornwall.
Take note — the "a" in pasty is short as in the word "last," not long as in the word "taste."
Makes 4 Cornish pasties
- Flour -- 3 cups
- Salt -- 1/2 teaspoon
- Butter, chilled -- 8 tablespoons
- Lard or shortening, chilled -- 8 tablespoons
- Cold water -- 6 or 7 tablespoons
- Skirt steak, thinly sliced -- 1 pound
- All-purpose potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced -- 1/2 pound
- Rutabaga, peeled and thinly sliced -- 1 large
- Onion, finely chopped -- 1
- Salt and pepper -- to season
- Butter -- 4 tablespoons
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter and lard or shortening into small pieces and work it into the flour lightly with your fingers to form a mixture with a texture like breadcrumbs. Stir in the cold water, a couple tablespoons at a time, to bring the mass together. Remove to a floured work surface and knead once or twice gently to form a smooth dough. Shape into a disc, wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes.
- Place the pastry on a lightly floured work surface and cut into quarters. Roll each quarter out into a 9-inch round. Place a layer of potatoes in the center of each round and season lightly with salt and pepper. Next add a layer of rutabaga, followed by a layer of beef and finally onions, lightly seasoning each layer with salt and pepper. Place a tablespoon of butter atop each filling.
- Brush the edges of the pastry with water. Bring the pastry up and over the filling, pinch the edges together and then crimp to seal.
- Place the pasties on a baking sheet and brush each with a little milk or egg beaten with a little water. Poke a small hole or two in the top of each pasty with a toothpick to vent any steam. Bake for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 325°F and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.
Cornish Pasty Variations
- Though a true Cornish pasty contains only beef, potatoes, rutabagas and onions, many different fillings are cooked up in Cornwall and beyond. Venison was common for early pasties that were prepared for royalty. Pork and apple is a popular variation in modern times. Some pasties even have a savory filling on one end and a sweet dessert filling on the other — a two-course meal in a single package!