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Monday, March 25, 2019

Cornish Pasties

I visited Cornwall and ate a pasty there but I also lived (for 4 cold winters and admittedly pleasant summers) in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where generations earlier Cornish iron miners imported this dish. It's long been a  regional favorite. I visited the U.P. last summer and with the help of the internet found several of the best pasties available in the area. This recipe tastes just like those.


Cornish Pasties

Makes 6 big hand pies; some diners can eat only half

For the crust:

2/3 c sour cream, chilled
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 c unbleached flour
1 3/4 teas salt
16 T unsalted butter, cut in half-inch pieces and chilled

For the filling:

1 T unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped fine
salt and pepper
1 T minced fresh thyme or 1 teas dried
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 pd skirt steak, trimmed and cut into 1/2-in pieces
10 oz. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-in pieces
10 oz. rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1/2-in pieces
1/4 c unbleached flour

For the egg wash:

1 large egg
2 teas water

Cook's Country points out that you can use turnips for rutabagas and if you can't find skirt steak substitute with 1 1/2 pounds blade steak which will require more trimming so it needs an extra quarter pound. 

For the crust:  

Mix the sour cream and egg, whisking in a small bowl. Place the flour and salt in a food processor and run for about 3 seconds. Add the butter and pulse about 10 times until pea-size pieces remain. Pour in about half the sour cream mixture and pulse about 5 times until combined. Pour in the remaining sour cream and process again until the dough begins to form a mass, about 15 pulses.

Remove from processor to a lightly floured counter and knead until the dough comes together. Place the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap and form it into a disk, about 6 inches in diameter. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes. (The dough can be made ahead and kept in the fridge about 24 hours but allow it to sit out for 15 minutes before attempting to roll out.)

For the filling:

In a 10-inch skillet at medium heat melt the butter and add the onion and 1/4 teas salt. Cook until the onion has softened. Add the thyme and garlic and cook and stir about 30 seconds until fragrant. Let this mixture cool somewhat, around 5 minutes. In a large bowl, stir the beef, potatoes, rutabaga, and onion mixture together. Add 1 1/2  teas salt, 3/4 teas pepper and stir. Then stir in the flour and toss the mixture to coat. 

To cook:

Preheat the oven to 375F and place the rack at upper-middle position. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a rimmed baking sheet (18X12). Divide the filling into 6 equal portions on a plate or tray (1 cup or more) and remove the dough from the fridge. Cut it in 6 equal portions (about 5 oz each).

On a pastry cloth or floured counter roll one portion of dough into an oval about 8 by 10 inches approximately 1/8 inch thick. Put a portion of filling on the bottom half of the dough making sure to leave half an inch or more along the edge to seal. Use water to moisten the edges of the dough and fold over the top to form a half-moon shape. Press the dough around the filling to adhere and press down on the edges to seal.

Trim ragged edges away and crimp edges to seal or pinch and twist diagonally between your thumb and forefinger.  Or you can seal with the tines of a fork. Place on baking sheet to rest while you repeat with remaining 5 portions of dough. You may place them on the sheet horizontally with three in each of two rows. (If you want to freeze any or all of the pasties they can be placed in the freezer until solid and then placed in a zippered bag for up to a month. When it comes time to cook, place in 350F oven and cook for 65-70 minutes. You'll want to remember to brush with an egg wash just before baking.)

With a paring knife cut 2 vent holes in the top of each pastie. Whisk the egg with 2 teas water and use a pastry brush to brush this mixture on each pastie (it's best not to use the egg wash if you are freezing them). Place in oven and bake about 45 minutes until the crust is golden brown and you can see the filling bubbling up through vent holes. Rotate the pasties half way through cooking. When done place pasties on a wire rack and allow to sit for about 10 minutes before serving. 


Don't try to save time by chopping ingredients in larger chunks, particularly in case of the beef, because it may not cook through. I will try to chop meat in the food processor next time. 

When I froze half of these they were no different from those I cooked immediately after preparation. This would be a great make-ahead meal. 

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