Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cornish Pasties

Since Clea has posted a number of really good recipes, I figured I'd better reciprocate with one I made this afternoon.

The cornish pasty - pronounced pass (rhymes with mass) tea - was one of my favorite foods growing up. It originates in Cornwall, England where it was created to meet the needs of Cornish tin miners. Being covered in arsenic-laced dirt, they would hold the pasty by a corner of the folded crust, eat the rest of it and discard the dirty crust. By superstition, the discarded crust would appease the "knockers" - mischievous spirits who lived in the mine and caused accidents and mine collapses.

They are very popular back home and can be bought handmade with a variety of ingredients in most local bakeries. As they are made to be a complete meal, can be eaten hot or cold and are easy to eat "on the go", they could make a great ultra food (though you may want to substitute all purpose flour for the wholewheat). So wrap a few in foil, pack them in your drop bag and give them a try. I have experimented with various recipes to remove a lot of the fat from the crust, and came up with the following "basic" recipe.

Makes around 18-20 pasties

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup self-rising flour
6 Tbsp chilled margarine (I use "I Can't believe it's not butter" light Meditteranean blend olive oil spread)
6 Tbsp low-fat or fat-free ricotta
1 cup iced water

1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp fresh herbs (such as parsley, thyme)
3 carrots, finely chopped
1 lb extra lean ground beef
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 medium potatoes, cubed

Mix together the flours and cut in the margarine
Cut in the ricotta cheese
Stir in the iced water bit by bit. Mix by hand as you go and add the water to the dry bits.
Form into a ball and knead several times. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes

Preheat the oven to 425F/220C/gas mark 7

In a large mixing bowl, combine the potato, carrot and onion together with the beef, salt, pepper and herbs
Roll out the dough and cut into 6" circles (I use my pasta machine at thickest setting to roll it out). Work with portions of the dough and keep the rest covered and refrigerated.
Put 1/3 cup of filling on one half of each circle. Moisten the edges of the circle with water, fold over and seal. I use these which work really well. I got them in a cookery store in Cardiff, but I have also seen them sold locally very cheaply (they are sometimes known as dumpling or empanada makers).

Arrange the pasties on a pre-sprayed (or foil lined and sprayed) baking tray. If you want a softer crust, brush them lightly with milk/olive oil/egg.
Cut 2 small slits in the top of each for steam.
Bake for around 40 minutes or until brown.

Let rest for at least 15 minutes.

Experiment with the basic recipe for the pastry and filling to meet your needs. Try using all-purpose instead of wholewheat flour, chicken or turkey instead of the beef (lamb and mint probably also a good combo) or even leave out the meat altogether. Try brown rice instead of potatoes, add in celery, mushrooms, bell peppers, garlic, ginger, bbq/curry flavors etc. Be creative, just be sure to report back and let me know how they turn out.

1 comment:

clea said...

those sound great! They sound a lot like polish perogis that I make, except those get boiled and are like a big dumpling. You are breaking the stereotype the UK having bland food....but I do love pub grub. Mmmm, fish and chips with malt vinegar.