Monday, September 20, 2010

Traditional Cornish Pasties

Sometimes I look back on things that have happened in my life, and, had I not lived them, would never have believed it possible.  Meeting my husband was one such experience.  Go traveling in Europe, meet a fabulous man, and get married?  No way, that type of thing doesn't happen to me.   But, in the year 2000 it did.  Now, let me make one thing clear; I didn't head out on my trip hoping to find love, far from it.  I was on a three-month journey of self discovery, and, for the first two weeks, I was just trying to ride a bike around Ireland and fix my friend Megan up with the adorable British guy on our tour (Andrew).   After a few days of trying to implement our plan, Megan said to me, "I think Andrew likes you, and I think you should go for it."  What?  I didn't see it.  But, a day later and I am pretty sure I was already in love with him.  Fast forward ten years, and here we are, with two girls and a wonderful life together. 

We've just returned home from a visit to Scotland and England to see his family.  His parents are from Cornwall but spent most of their adult lives in the north of England, and now in Scotland.  Andrew's Mum makes traditional Cornish pasties, and they are Andrew's favorite.  I had the honor of learning how to make them on this last trip.  It felt like learning a real family secret.  Thank you Grace for teaching me and for taking the time to share a part of your family heritage with me.  It means a lot.

The pasties have nothing to do with our vegetable garden, sorry.  And, for those of you looking for a healthy, low-cal recipe, this isn't the one for you.  But, they are worth the trouble for the treat, and they will make your heart smile, that I guarantee.    

For the pastry:
8 ozs Plain Flour
Pinch salt
5 ozs lard and margarine mixed, try 2 ozs lard and 3 ozs margarine (I know what you are thinking, lard?   Really Suzanne?...Yes, it's one day, it will be okay, just don't tell your cardiologist!) 
cold water to mix

1. Mix flour and salt, add fat and cut into small pieces
2. Stir with a knife (do not rub in). Mix to a stiff dough with water
3. Roll onto a floured surface to a narrow strip
4. Fold in three, give a quarter turn so one of the open ends is towards you and roll out again. Do this three times.
5. Cover pastry and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
6. Roll pastry as required, roll away from you and do not break the air bubbles that will rise

(We skipped the fold in three step, and just mixed it a bit with our fingers and cut it in half.  It still came out perfect.)

For the filling:

1 Cup raw meat, cubed (traditionally they use steak, but you can use any meat you like)
1 1/4 Cup potatoes, sliced into small pieces
1/4 Cup onion, chopped in big pieces
salt and pepper
1/2 inch cube chunks of butter (enough so each pasty you make has three chunks on the top)

1. Once pastry dough is made and chilled, remove from fridge and roll out.  Cut circle pieces using a plate as a guide.
2. Place enough meat, potatoes, and onions to fill, on top of rolled out circle of pastry dough.
3. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Place 3 chunks of butter across filling.
5. Moisten the edges with water and pinch together, pushing the whole thing over to the side once pinched.
6. Paint with egg yolk or milk and place on greased baking tray.
7. Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.  Then reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 45 minutes.

Notes: Pasties are often served with pickled beets or chutney, weird by American standards, but very tasty!  Since I don't eat beef, my mother-in-law always makes mine with chicken and corn.  It's delicious.  Also, if you are up for a short cut, you can use ready made pie crust instead of making your own pastry. 
Grace and me assembling the pasties!

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