My family grew up making pasties. The traditional Cornish pasty is a take-away meal that originated in Cornwall, England. If you research the history of pasties in the United States, you’ll find lots of information on how they were common in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. They were ideal for miners because they could be packed for lunches, then heated up on shovels in the mines and eaten without any utensils.
Many immigrants also found themselves in the mining areas of Minnesota as well. My grandmother grew up in Minnesota’s Iron Range, where pasties were a common lunch for the miners to bring to work. She grew up eating pasties, and passed the recipe down to my mom; who then handed it down to me.
Cornish Pasty Crust Recipe
2 C. flour
1 tsp. salt
2/3 C. lard or vegetable shortening*
2 Tbsp. butter
6-8 Tbsp. ice water
Mix dry ingredients together, then add shortening bit by bit until mixture becomes mealy. Add ice water one tablespoon at a time until a dough has been formed. This makes enough dough for three large pasties or four medium-sized pasties. Form dough into a ball and cut into three or four equal sizes. Roll out each ball and then add pasty fillings below.
Cornish Pasty Fillings
1 1/2 C. minced onion
3 C. diced potato
1 1/2 C. sliced carrots**
1-1/2 lb. beef steak, cubed (sirloin or round)***
1-1/2 lb. pork steak, cubed***
Parsley, chopped (fresh)
Salt and pepper to taste
On top of the dough that you’ve just rolled out, layer minced onion, potatoes, carrots, beef steak, pork steak, parsley. Add a couple butter wedges and season with salt and pepper.
Fold the top of the pasty dough over the filling ingredients and seal the edges (mine was not fancy, but if you’re a skilled pastry chef you can do fluted edges).
Bake your pasties at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 375 degrees and cook one hour more. If you’re going to be freezing them to eat later, cook for 45 minutes instead of an hour. When ready to cook, heat them for about a half hour at 375 degrees.
*The original recipe that my grandmother used called for lard, but I substitute Crisco.
**Many other traditional pasty recipes call for rutabaga or turnip, but we’ve never used that. It was a recipe that my grandmother handed down to my mom, and now to me.
***For me, packs of beef and pork sirloin came in 1-1 1/2 lb. packages. That was enough for a double recipe of pasties, or save half and freeze to use later.