Pastie (PASS-tee) are basically individual pies filled with meats and vegetables that are cooked together. Traditionally they should weigh about two pounds or more. The earliest known reference to the pastie contribute it to the Cornish. Irish immigrants to northern England took the art of pastie making with them. Soon every miner in northern England took pasties down into the mine for his lunch.
As immigrants flooded into America seeking work, many Welsh, English, and Irish found themselves working in the mines of Pennsylvania’s Coal Region. These immigrants brought their traditions and cuisine with them and many of these men and boys carried pasties with them into the mines in their lunch pails.
The identifying feature of the Cornish pastie is really the pastry and its crimping. When pasties were being made, each member of the family had their initials marked at one corner. This way each person’s favorite tastes can be catered to and also identify each pastie.
It is said that the solid ridge of hand crimped pastry along the edge of the pastie was so designed that a miner could grasp the pastie for eating and then throw the crust away. By doing this, he did not run the risk of germs and contamination from dirty hands.
The crusts were not wasted though, as many miners were believers in ghosts or “knockers” that inhabited the mines and left these crusts to keep the ghosts content. Often, one end of the pasty would contain a sweet filling which the wives would mark or initial so the miner would not eat his dessert first, while the other end would contain meat and vegetables.
This recipe is for the meat/vegetable savory filling without the sweet side. It is normally not recommended to knead a pastry dough like this recipe calls for, but you actually want some gluten to develop in this dough to help the pastie hold together well.
When prepping the meat and vegetables, remember that you must dice the ingredients small enough so they fully cook as the pastie bakes.
PastiesCourse: EntreeCuisine: Coal REgionDifficulty: Intermediate
Pastie are individual pies filled with meats and vegetables that are cooked together.
4 cups bread flour
3 ounces cold lard or vegetable shortening
2 ounces cold butter
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup ice water, or as needed
12 ounces beef skirt steak (or chuck steak), diced into 1/4 inch cubes (meat and vegetables need to be diced small so they fully cook during baking.)
1 cup diced potatoes, same size dice as meat (Yukon Gold work well)
1/2 cup diced onion
1/3 cup diced rutabaga or turnip, same size dice as meat
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (to your taste, but these should be “peppery”)
OPTIONAL: 1 pinch cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons butter, cut into 8 thin slices
- Egg Wash
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon water
- Make crust: Cut flour, lard, cold butter, and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt together in a bowl with a pastry blender or two butter knives until mixture has the consistency of coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and pour in ice water. Mix with a fork until mixture begins to come together; use hands to form into a dough ball.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly-floured work surface and knead until dough is smooth and forms a firm ball, about 2 minutes. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper
- Make Filling: Stir steak, potatoes, onion, turnip, 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper together in a bowl until evenly-combined.
- Beat egg and 1 teaspoon water together in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Divide dough into four equal rounds and roll each round out to about 1/8-inch thickness and 8-inches in diameter.
- Brush each dough round with egg mixture.Place 1/4 of the steak mixture slightly off-center on each round of dough, and top steak mixture with 2 slices butter. Fold dough over steak filling to form a half moon shape and press edges together to seal. Crimp edges of the pasty into a raised fluted edge, like a pie crust.
- Transfer pasties to the prepared baking sheet. With tip of a sharp knife, either cut initials into a corner of the pasty or cut a small vent slit into the top.
- Brush tops with egg wash.
- Bake in the preheated oven until browned and bubbly, about 1 hour.
- Cool on a wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes.