Monday, January 16, 2012

Cornish Pasties!

   While I may have gone to England determined to find the perfect fish 'n chips, my favorite food  during my stay in Yorkshire was the Cornish pasty (pronounced pass-tee).  The traditional formula, which is the national dish of Cornwall and now enjoys PGI status, includes beef, turnip, potato and onion, in a buttery, easy-to-transport crispy crust.  While this is the traditional formula, in York we found everything from pizza toppings to cheese and tomato used as fillings in the pasty shops. 

   For my birthday this year, I wanted to cook something special, and I'd been wanting to attempt pasties for forever, but was a bit nervous to actually attempt it.  Again, I turned to one of my favorite British cookbooks for the recipe.  Garmey's 'shortcrust pastry' recipe, as used in her Cornish pasty recipe, is as follows:

   -2 1/4 cups flour
   -1/4 tsp salt
   -3 oz unsalted butter
   -4 oz lard
   -1 TBSP confectioner's sugar
   -3 TBSP cold water
   -milk and beaten egg to brush pastry with

  While I was determined to actually use lard in this recipe, I forgot to go to the one HyVee in town that actually has lard, and since I was already at the grocery store and didn't feel like driving across town, I just replaced the lard with unsalted butter, ounce for ounce.  Also, as in Garmey's recipe for battered fish, I found the liquid measurement here to be far too low.  I ended up using 7 1/2 TBSP water, rather than the 3 TBSP in the original recipe.  Rolled out to approximately 1/4 inch thick, this dough makes about 4 good-sized pasties. 

   For the filling, I used one medium potato, 4 oz of Red Leicester cheese, and an uncooked 8 oz strip steak, all diced into small pices.  A bit of salt and pepper, as well as a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce is all you need for a simple, hearty, and thoroughly enjoyable English pasty.  Using a small plate and pizza cutter, we cut out four 8-(ish)-inch circles.  Split the filling between the four pasties, mounding it up in the center in a horizontal line.  Fold the pastry over the filling, like a taco, brushing the edges with egg wash to help seal.  Fold the pastry back over itself and score lightly with a fork to make a decorative edge.  Gently push the pastry down over the filling to seal things up nicely, and cut a couple of small vent holes in the pastry.  Brush the whole pastry with egg wash  Bake this at 400 for 20 minutes and 350 for an additional 40 minutes. 

   I gotta say, this recipe was FANTASTIC.  The filling was simple, rustic, and thoroughly satisfying, and the crust was wonderful crisp, buttery, and as good as anything I had while in England.  I may give the lard a try at some point, but this is a recipe I will DEFINITELY revisit over the years.  Again, Garmey impresses!

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