Today is my mom’s birthday. She would have been 68 years old. Wasn’t she cute? I didn’t just love my mom, I actually really liked her very, very much. She was patient and kind and could be quiet some times, but boy oh boy could she get silly. I spent a good portion of my time trying to make her laugh.
This week’s recipe is in honor of my mom.
On special occasions, we would hop in the car and drive up to Grass Valley to a little shop called Marshall’s Pasties. It only took about 30 minutes, but when you are a kid it feels like FOREVER.
A pasty is raw meat, onion, potato and rutabaga (aka turnip) all folded inside pastry dough and crimped up the side. Once placed in the oven, the filling cooks inside the dough to produce this lovely kind of savory hand pie. Pasties were made popular by the good people of Cornwall, England. The origins are unclear, but what is well known is that pasties were popular with the working class folk. It was suggested that tin miners would hold onto the crimped part of the pastry to keep from getting toxic dust all over their food. They would eat all of the pasty, except for the part pinched between their fingers, and throw the dusty bit away.
My mom LOVED pasties. Loved them. Our trip to Marshall’s filled our bellies and the backseat of the car. She’d always get extras for the freezer. They freeze really well and reheat beautifully. Marshall’s has been making traditional Cornish pasties for over 40 years and there is nothing more comforting or delicious in the realm of savory pies. We would order our pasties and wait for them to be heated up. Rushing back to the car, we would sit in the front seat with the AC on, burning our mouths because we just couldn’t wait for them to cool down.
When I moved too far away to be able to make that trip easily, I decided to figure out how to make them myself. I scoured the internet for a decent recipe and found one by a sweet old lady that claimed to be from England. If I had only looked in my mom’s cookbook, I would have found a recipe waiting for me right under my nose.
So, today I honor my mom by sharing with you one of the memories that always makes me smile and my stomach growl. I hope that you take the time to put these Cornish Pasties together. They are well worth the trouble……. or you could just take a road trip to Grass Valley. I say, do both.
Follow the Perfect Pie Crust recipe for simple pastry dough at Simply Recipes. Once pulsed, pour flour/butter mixture into a bowl and then add the water until dough forms. If you continue to pulse in the food processor, the butter breaks up into too fine of pieces and that means your dough won’t be as flaky. This is the one time you want to be a flake.
Pour mixture onto clean surface, press palm of hands into dough a few times to get the butter worked in and quickly form into two balls. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator while you prep the filling.
If you don’t want to make your own dough, go to the freezer section of your local grocery store and buy some pie crust dough. It works super great and cuts out a lot of the prep work.
Cube steak into manageable bite-size pieces and place in a bowl. Cut up potato and rutabaga into 1/2 inch to 1 inch size pieces and put in bowl with some water. The water will keep both from turning brown from oxidization.
PS: This is a rutabaga.
This is a rutabaga without its shirt.
Chop up onion and place in separate bowl. In separate dishes put salt, freshly ground pepper, 1 stick of butter sliced into 1 tbsp pieces, some flour and 2 beaten eggs.
I realize that the Ladies of the Congregational Guild Cookbook-1901- probably knew better than anyone how to make a traditional pasty, but when I read the recipe from Cornwall Connie I had to tweak the church cookbook recipe just a bit. After all, Connie’s included adding some additional ingredients to create a natural occurring gravy inside the pasty while it cooked. Who am I to deny anyone of gravy?
(What you didn’t see in the included pictures is that I shattered a glass bowl while pulling it out of the cupboard right above my work surface. I couldn’t be sure that glass didn’t fly into the bowls that held my spices and butter and egg, so I threw everything out and cleaned the counter top three times. I had to start all over, but better that than glass in your belly. We’re not all circus performers here.)
Turn on the oven and set it to 425 degrees. While it heats up, pull out your dough and generously flour your counter top.
My dough ended up being enough for 8 nicely sized pasties.
Use a 6 inch plate as a template and cut out a circle of pastry.
Add onion, rutabaga & potato, meat to the middle of the pastry round. Sprinkle on a good amount of pepper and salt, topping it off with butter and a bit of flour. The last two ingredients help create the gravy while its cooking.
Take your egg wash and a pastry brush and paint along one half of the circle’s edge. This is your glue.
Pull up both sides until they meet and press along the edges.
I do a kind of press, fold over and pinch. If you want or know how to get fancy, I say do it! I just want to work it so the filling doesn’t fall out.
There is a hot and heavy debate about whether or not a crimp down the front or a crimp along the side is more traditional, but I’m more concerned with how the pasty is going to get into my mouth to be bothered with any of that.
As I’m making the pasties, I put them in the fridge on a plate. Once all put together, I take them out and place them on parchment paper on a cookie tray. Keeping the butter in the dough cold is essential to the flakiness. And remember, we WANT to be flakes in this situation.
Here are my pasties, all in a row. You can see I got a bit of pepper stuck on them, but I figure that equals flavor, so no bother.
Once lined up, take the rest of the beaten egg and brush all of the exposed surfaces of the pasties.
When you are done, and if you have made a mess, it will look like this:
Pop them into the 425 degree oven and put on the timer for 20 minutes. When the timer goes off, turn down the oven to 325 and set the timer for 40 minutes. No need to open the oven door. The higher heat browns them nicely and the lower heat gets to cooking of the insides.
If you happen to have any of the filling left over, I recommend throwing it in a pan and cooking up a kind of hash. Place an over easy egg on top and you’ve got a meal!
When the pasties are done, they will be golden and crisp and you’ll see some bubbling of escaping gravy and bits o’ butter. And the smell….OH THE SMELL OF THE FULLY COOKED PASTY, will be impossible to resist, but resist….because that sucker is going to be HOT.
Remove from tray and place on cooling racks.
Go ahead, gobble one up. You deserve it.
- 3/4 – 1 lbs. skirt steak
- 1 large raw potato
- 1 raw rutabaga
- 1 raw onion
- 8 tbsp. butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- Make a pastry crust and cut it into rounds using an inverted bowl of 6-7″.
- Put the mixture on the middle of the pastry. (meat, potato, onion, rutabaga, butter, salt, pepper and pinch of flour)
- Brush edges of pastry round with beaten egg and bring together on the top.
- With forefinger and thumb, make a sort of frill, by pinching the dough together.
- Place pasties on parchment paper on cookie tray.
- Brush over the completed pasty with egg wash or milk.
- Bake in 425 degree oven for 20 minutes, then turn down to 325 degrees and continue baking for 40 minutes.
- Remove from oven once golden and cool on racks.