Pasties

Background

Pasties are what in some countries would be called “hand pies”.  They were the standard lunch of Welsh / Cornish miners. They were brought into our family due to the Iron Mountain, Michigan iron mines. My grandfather was one of the miners for a time. This version is the one taught by by grandmother (yes 4 ’10” Italian Grandmothers make Great Cornish pasties).

This version is extremely simple, no fancy ingredients and a very thin, light and flaky crust.  The crust is far more tender than the miners would have carried (it would have crumbled in their pockets) or what is sold as “pasties” in the grocery store.   We have kept the recipe to what she taught me with one exception, we have substituted sweet potatoes for half of the (white) potatoes.  No parsnips, carrots, gravy, rutabagas or other things that folks put in pasties for us (but feel free to experiment).

The recipe is as Grandma Ann made it. 6 pasties – single batch. We always make a double batch (12) . I have been known to say:” If you are going to make a mess, make a BIG mess”.   It really takes very little longer over all to do the double batch.

Pasty (Pie) Crust

  • 3 c all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 c shortening
  • 1/2 c ice cold water  (emphasis on ice cold)

Mix the filling  with a pastry cutter. Work it as little as possible and keep it cold. After mixing place in the refrigerator to chill.

After chilling, divide into 6 balls and then roll out between sheets of plastic wrap. One sheet of plastic wrap, makes one sheet of crust

Each crust should be roughly football shaped and about 10×12 inches . Yes, this seems wasteful to use the plastic wrap per sheet of crust,  but it is the key to being able to get it so thin and wrap the filling with it .   Cover the pie crust  with a damp towel and refrigerate while you make the filling.

If you use grocery store ready made pie crust, it will be edible but more like you get in the store. It is really worth making your own!

Filling

  • 6 medium potatoes peeled and chopped into 3/8-1/2″ pieces
  • 6 medium onions chopped to the same size as the potatoes
  • 1.5 lbs 90% lean ground beef  (grandma would often substitute ground venison as it was cheaper and leaner than grocery store ground beef). From my experience 80/20 ground beef is far too fatty and the crust gets soggy.
  • A good grind of black pepper.
  • Our newer variant substitutes sweet potatoes for 1/2 of the white potatoes  – family favorite!

Mix the filling well in a large bowl squishing it between your fingers as you go.  The goal is an even mix of the meat onions and potatoes with out large lumps.

Making the Pasties

Divide the filling evenly  (each portion would be a good big double hand full).  Place the filling centered and packed on a piece of the crust.  Bring the crust up and over the filling using the plastic wrap (long sides first) and then pat it down.   Now move the completed pastie to a greased sheet pan (yes it needs sides unless you like the smoke alarm going off and huge mess).

My grandpas were coated with black pepper before cooking (and marked with a toothpick) . I have also done some with ripe jalapenos, cayenne pepper flakes and other variants. Use your imagination (on part of the batch).

Bake

Bake at 375 / 350 convect for 1 hour . Done is 190-195F internal temp.  (lower and the potatoes will NOT be done).

If you will be freezing some for later they can be pulled at 150-160 F.

Cool for 10 min and serve.

Serving

We love ours with cole slaw or a fresh garden salad and vinaigrette as well as some beer or wine.  In our family, the pasty is cracked open and smothered with ketchup (and for some, home made hot sauce). For many folks, that would be sacrilegious, but to each their own.

Freezing

These are so good as “freezer food”. Cool and use a spatual to break free from the pan. Place the pans with the pasties in the freezer and freeze solid (over night).  Remove and vacuum bag individually. These keep really well. Reheat for 45-55 min at 325F for an easy fun meal .

Note that skipping the freezing before vacuum bagging is NOT recommended. You ruin the crust as I have demonstrated in the past.