Cheers to Cornish Pasties and Cold Paws
Hope everyone had a lovely holiday! Henry and I flew back to Montana Sunday night and have been getting back into the swing of things on the ranch. We got quite a bit of snow while we were gone, OH AND ITS REALLY COLD. This week has been in the negative degrees (because past 0, who keeps track?). I’ve been taking the pups (or three stooges) on walks in the mornings when I am home, and since I missed those little jerks so much I couldn’t miss our walk just because it was -10,000 degree out. This is how they felt about the walk in the cold:
If you look closely you can see that my hair, is in fact... FROZEN.
I also decided to get betty homemaker and make PASTIES or PASTY (whichever way you say it I’m sure you are not thinking about a food item, so pull your mind out of the gutter!)
So most of you are probably asking "What the hell is a pasty?" well let me take you on a trip across the pond..a baked pastry, a traditional variety of which is particularly associated with Cornwall, the westernmost county in England. It is made by placing uncooked filling typically of meat and vegetables, on a flat pastry circle and folding it to wrap the filling, crimping the edge to form a seal. After baking, the result is a raised semicircular food item. My understanding is when gold was discovered in California, Cornish miners often had their pasties in their lunch boxes, the pasty then became very popular in the mining areas, which is where my hometown comes in.... Grass Valley California is best known for being a very prominent gold mining town back in its hay day. We still have “Cornish Christmas” and if you look up Pasty (Or Pasties) on Wikipedia Grass Valley even gets a mention. Grass Valley has at least two pasty restaurants that only sell - you guessed it - pasties. Growing up pasties were a staple in our family and for a full year of my young life (all of 3rd grade) I ate one for lunch for $1. If I had a spare 25 cents I would splurge for a cookie and if I had a spare 50 cents I would splurge for chocolate milk. My sister once asked me why I didn't just use my dollar on two cookies and chocolate milk, my response was, "AND NOT HAVE A PASTY? NO WAY!" it wasn't an option because I LOVE PASTIES! They are so simple and delicious I decided I should try and make them myself!
So here goes my pasty making: I looked online asked friends and came up with my own recipe in the end. I was most scared of making the dough, my grandma suggested I buy premade pie dough… NO WAY! If I am going to make something I am going to do it right, from scratch (at least until I fail, then I’ll cheat and buy something premade).
You know that moment you realize you are turning into your mother? Try realizing you are turning into your mother AND grandmother. Anytime you ask my mom or grandma for a recipe you get the following response “oh some of that, a little of this, a scoop of that, oh and some of this” NO MEASUREMENTS, ALL APPROXIMATIONS! And now, I find myself doing THE EXACT SAME THING. So when I say I followed a recipe, its usually just what temperature they set the oven at.
First I made the dough; it had lard, butter and flour. First time I used lard, and some recipes said I didn’t have to use it, but honestly I just wanted to say that I used lard. Lard lard lard.
Next I made the filling, which was CONTROVERSIAL! All traditional recipes do not cook the meat before filling the pasty dough, honestly that just freaked me out, so I browned all the ingredients first.
I used sweet potatoes, because to be honest, I didn’t have regular potatoes, oops. I then added some onion, some carrots and the beef which was labeled “stew meat” (you best believe I’ll be making lamb pasties next try).
Rolled them up, stamped the sides with a fork, made some holes on top, egg wash, and in the oven they went.
Most eat with mustard or catsup or vinegar. I like to use fancy mustards, because I’m fancy like that.
Happy New Year AND STAY WARM!
For the pastry:
3¾ cups flour, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup lard
3/4 cup ice water (you may not need it all)
For the pastry egg wash:
1 egg and 2 Tablespoons milk, beaten
For the filling:
12 ounces raw beef skirt steak or chuck steak
2 cups 1/3-inch diced yellow or white onion
2 cups peeled and diced potato (I used sweet potato)
2 cups diced carrots (about 8 ounces)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon rosemary
Make the pastry before you chop up the filling ingredients. Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the 'S' blade and briefly pulse them together. Add the butter and pulse at 1-second intervals until the largest pieces of butter are the size of chickpeas. Remove the lid, pour 1/2 cup of the ice water evenly over the flour mixture, replace the lid, and pulse a few times. Add just enough more ice water so that the dough holds together when you press it between your fingers. Do not overmix.
Pour the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, gently pat it together using the edges of the plastic wrap to help you, then flatten it into a large flat disc or rectangle (I find it easier to divide it into six equal pieces if it's a rectangle). Wrap it tightly in the plastic and refrigerate it while you make the filling. (You can make the dough several hours ahead of time, or the day before, if desired. Refrigerate until ready to use.)
Heat the oven to 400°F. Combine the chopped beef, onion, potatoes, and carrots in a large bowl. Add the salt, pepper, olive oil, thyme, and rosemary and mix well. Set aside.
Cut the pastry into 6 equal pieces and shape each one into a flat disc. On a lightly floured surface, gently roll each piece of pastry into a 9-inch round
If the dough starts to stick to the work surface or your rolling pin, sprinkle it with a small amount of flour.
Place about 1 cup of filling on each round, either in the middle if you want to bring both sides of the pastry up and together, or on one side so you can pull the other side of the pastry over to make a semi-circle. Brush the edges of the pastry with the egg wash, and seal them together. If you're making semi-circles, you can decoratively crimp the edge of the pasties with a fork or your fingers.
Place the pasties on baking sheet, brush them all over with the egg wash, and bake until golden brown, about 40 to 45 minutes. I baked mine at 400 for 25 minutes, and then turned the oven down to 350 for another 30 minutes mainly because I cooked the filling before I stuffed the pasty. Which is traditionally is a no-no.
Serve pasties hot, with mustard or ketchup on the side. They will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator and will also freeze well. Reheat in the oven or microwave.