Monday, March 14, 2011


When I was a kid, my dad would take me up north every spring to go skiing. If you've been to a small community, you'll know that lots of places have their own "cultural" recipe or food. And, in northern Minnesota, they've picked up the pasty from the folks over in the UP (Upper Penninsula) of Michigan.

By the way, they're pronounced "paaaa-sty", not "paste-y." Nothing paste-like about these!

While doing my own research, I learned a  couple things about the pasty:
1. Pasties originated in the south of England, in Cornwall. While these meat pies are also known some places as "Cornish Pasties", it's really only correct to call them those if they were actually made in Cornwall (sort of like how sparkling white wine can only be called Champagne if it's from that region in France.)

2. While the recipes for pasties varies from region to region and person to person, the pastry crust is always a short crust and the filling is always meat combined with root vegetables and is uncooked before the pastry is assembled.

3. If you do a Google or YouTube search for "pasties" without the words "recipe" or "history of", you get a lot of sites advertising those sticky things that celebrities stick on their chests when they're planning on wearing skimpy dresses to an award show.

4. This lady cracks me up. "I've had quite a few requests to do some more British food, and what could be more British than a giant samosa with no spices in it? Otherwise known as a Cornish pasty."

These pasties may seem hard, but looks can be deceiving! They're really quite easy, and if you've got a houseful of people, they're the perfect quick meal. They also freeze and reheat pretty well, which is good because the recipe also makes a lot!

The first thing you want to do is make the dough.

And, just a note, the pictures for the dough show me cutting the recipe in half. Do not do this! You'll need the full recipe of dough (as written below) to cover all the filling.

Some salt gives the dough a little flavor.

Then you'll want to use a pastry cutter, a pair of forks or knives, or your bare hands to cut in some shortening. It's just like making a pie crust!

Once the shortening is cut in and the pieces are the size of small peas, it's time to moisten the dough with some water.

Another note--you'll need to eyeball the amount of water. The original recipe says that only a cup of water is needed, but I used about that much just making a half recipe of dough. But the air was very dry here, which could account for the extra amount of water needed.

You'll want to add enough water to soak up all the flour, while making sure that the dough is still manageable and not too wet. See how the dough has all come together but it's not sticky?

Now wrap the dough up and let it rest in the fridge while you prepare the filling.

First are the potatoes. I used a small, waxy variety of potato, but if all you've got are russets, you'd be okay using those too.

I diced them fairly small and tried to make the pieces as even as possible.

Next was a rutabaga, which is a traditional pasty ingredient. It's also referred to as "Swede."

I peeled it and cut it into rows. I only needed half a rutabaga.

Then I diced it so it was the same size as the potatoes, and discarded the icky brown parts.

And by discard, I mean threw on the floor for the dogs to gnaw on. They love root vegetables! They come running into the kitchen when they hear the vegetable peeler.

An onion was next. Again, try to keep the pieces about the same size as the potatoes and rutabaga.

Now for the meat. I got a package of diced beef with our CSA package this month, which was perfect. I'm not sure exactly what cut of beef I got (the package just said "diced beef") but any kind of stew meat would work just fine.

According to some, pasties traditionally also must have pork. I didn't have any pork defrosted, so I didn't use any. But if you want a blend of meats, add pork.

I diced the beef even further by cutting it into chunks the same size as the vegetables.

Give everything a biiiig salt and peppering. This is a lot of bland food here, and you want to make sure it's seasoned well.

Then give everything a stir.

Now that your filling is ready, you can get your dough out of the fridge. Pull off a piece. It doesn't really matter how large you make your pasties--some are small and personal-sized, while other people take pride in making enormous pasties.

Turn your dough out onto a well-floured surface and roll it out to about a quarter of an inch. Try to make the dough a little oval-shaped.

Then scoop some of your filling into the center of the dough. Don't be afraid of overstuffing!

Give the filling another good salt and peppering.

Brush the edges of the dough with some egg to help seal the crust.

Top it all off with a dab of butter, to keep everything moist.

Now, carefully fold the crust over and press the edges together.

Brush the edge of the crust with more egg wash.

See whow there's a little hole in the crust? No worries, just patch it with a little egg wash and a bit of dough.

Use your fingers to fold the crust over a bit at a time to create the traditional fluted edge.
Once the edge is fully fluted, cut a hole in the top of the pasty to let out steam.

And there you have it!

Give the top another brush with the egg wash.

I baked my pasties on top of parchment paper to prevent them from getting too dark.

After an hour in the oven, you've got some great meat-and-potato pies!

Keep these on hand for a quick heat-em-up weekday meal that's still homemade, filing, and delicious!

Recipe: Pasties
5 c. flour
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. shortening
1+ c. cold water

1 1/2 c. potatoes, diced finely
1/2 rutabaga, diced finely
1/2 an onion, diced finely
1 lb. meat, diced finely
salt and pepper, to taste
butter, for dotting

1 egg, for sealing and brushing

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.  Use a pastry cutter (or knives, forks, or your fingers) to cut in shortening. Slowly add water until a dough forms. Set the dough aside while you make the filling.

In a large bowl, combine potatoes, rutabaga, onion, meat, and salt and pepper.

Grab a ball of dough and roll out on a well-floured surface. The dough should be slightly oval-shaped and about 1/4" thick.

Spoon a large mound of filling onto the dough. Salt and pepper the filling and dot with 1/2 tbsp. butter. Use the egg to brush the edges of the pastry. Fold the top half of the dough over the bottom half and press to seal.

Brush the edges with more egg. Use your fingers to fold the edges of the pastry over themselves. When you get to the end of the pasty, gently fold the excess underneath.

Use a knife to cut a hole in the top of the pasty, to let out steam. Brush the pasty with more egg.

Bake on a sheet lined with parchment paper for 1 hour, or until golden brown.


  1. This looks really good! I like the tutorial! I have always been a little weary of trying it on my own!

  2. I know exactly what you mean! When I was researching recipes, I wondered if it would turn into a big production. All the YouTube videos are of old-world grandmas making them, so of course they don't look like a big deal, haha. But it turned out that they really are as easy as they look. You just get a whole lot of them ;)