Delicious homemade Cornish Pasties; meat and potatoes made portable.
Right, so before I moved to the UK I decided to undertake a bit of research into the country I was moving to. Of the variety of programmes I watched, one had the presenter head to the South West part of the country where amongst the items discussed were Pasties. My immediate reaction was ‘what the hell is that’? Followed by musing on who would actually order such an item. Meat and potato folded in what I considered to be a primitive pizza pocket. Originally designed for miners, it is a point of pride in Cornwall.
Well, I was wrong to judge. It took me awhile, but when I finally tried proper Cornish pasties I was hooked. It may have been the knowledge that they were in no way remotely healthy, but it was delicious. By cooking the raw meat with the vegetables, they soak up each others juices and becomes nice and tender. The key to Cornish pasties however is the crust. Crispy, yet soft, crust which holds the fillings. A perfect pasty will have no spillage, and a good ‘crimp’ insures this.
I’ve called my recipe ‘Nearly Cornish Pasties’ because technically I’m breaking some of the rules for Cornish Pasties (Namely, I’m not in Cornwall! – read about them here). Despite its humble origins, you need good ingredients for a good pasty. Good skirt steak, potatoes, turnip and a bit of salt and pepper. Chop, combine and season, and that’s it (although I’ve added thyme as I like the flavour). The dough has a stunningly high amount of fat in it. Coal miners needed it apparently for the calories burnt. I’ve opted for a bit less, although some recipes I’ve come across call for 1:2 ratio of fat to flour. I’ve gone all butter, but a mix of butter and lard is also delicious.
So there you go, my take on the British classic of Cornish Pasties.
This is a twist on a classic miner’s meal, so some local beer would be good. Go for an English style ale. If you can find it, Doombar is a good bet.
I rightly associate anything with Cornwall with the coast, and when I eat a pasty I instinctively think of a East Coast style party (equating the social class of miners at the pasties creation to that of the average Bluenoser). So lets take East Cost style music, with a British influence. Hello Mumford and Sons and ‘I Will Wait’
- 350 g finely chopped steak - Skirt steak is good.
- 1 onion - finely diced
- 3 small potatoes - peeled and thinly sliced into thin pieces about a the size of a nickel
- 200 g turnip or swede - peeled and thinly sliced into thin pieces about a the size of a nickel
- 3-4 sprigs of thyme
- Salt and pepper
- 1 egg - beaten
- 200 g unsalted butter - cut into small cubes
- 500 g plain flour
- 15 g salt
- 150 ml cold water
- Pre-heat oven to 200C. Add the salt to the butter, and toss. Then add to the flour, and use a pastry cutter to cut in the butter. Or use hands to rub the butter into the flour to form crumbs.
- Add most of the water, you may need a bit more or a bit less. Add until all the flour is incorporated. Knead for about 10min until smooth. Wrap in film and place in the fridge.
- Meanwhile, mix all the ingredients fillings together and season with salt and pepper.
- When cold, take the dough out, and cut into 4-6 pieces. Working one at a time, roll out into flat rounds. They should be about as thick as a pound coin.
- Carefully place your filling in the center, be generous. Then fold over, like a half pizza. Carefully crimp the edges to seal, and then brush over with the egg wash.
- Cook in the pre-heated oven for 45-60min, until the crust is brown and the filling is cooked. Let cool slightly (watch out for steam!) and then dive in.