Making the Cornish Pasty~ Tutorial

Making the Cornish Pasty~ Tutorial, pasty, authentic Cornish, steak and potato

(Re-posting this as I take a few days off…Enjoy!)

The history of the Cornish pasty or pastie (pronounced PASS-tee) is a fun and interesting one. These individual meat and vegetable pies were traditionally two pounds or more, and each member of the family has their initials marked at one corner. This way each person’s tastes could be catered to.

They are so handsome on the plate…Hot…Right out of the oven! As you can see, they are also huge, so you can make twice as many, half as large!

meat pies, pasty, individual, steak and vegetable, traditional

The ones we enjoyed in Oxford and London, England were a bit smaller and looked more like this:

Originally, the solid ridge of pastry, hand-crimped along the side of the pasty, was designed so that the miner or traveler could grasp the pie for eating and then throw the crust away. By doing this, he did not run the risk of germs and contamination from dirty hands. There is probably some truth to this rumor as the early Cornish tin mines had large amounts of arsenic; this practice kept the men from consuming large amounts of arsenic.

The Cornish pasty is known and loved throughout Great Britain and Ireland and fierce arguments abound as to the origins of Cornish pasties with neighboring Devon also laying claim to the origins of the pasty.

According to Linda Stradley at What’s Cooking America, “One end of the pasty would usually contain a sweet filling which the wives would mark or initial so the miner wouldn’t eat his dessert first, while the other end would contain meat and vegetables. The true Cornish way to eat a pasty is to hold it in your hands, and begin to eat it from the top down to the opposite end of the initialed part. That way its rightful owner could consume any left over portion later.”

When we made pasties last month, we found out that they are delicious and hold together well when cold! This fits something else Linda Stradley mentioned: “Pasties are one of the most ancient methods of cooking and of carrying cooked food. It is said that the early Irish Catholic Priests created them in order to transport food as they walked about the countryside preaching and aiding the people.”

Pasties are almost better, if that could be possible, the next day and would work well for an impressive send-along lunch-box meal. These freeze well, too, to make ahead in quantity for a later date.

cold pasty, potatoes, turnips, parsley, steak

We made these for our oldest son’s birthday this week and used a lot of grass-fed steak, which he loves! The crust is truly amazing, light and very flaky; no shortening here – just healthful coconut oil and organic butter. The yellow veggie is rutabega.

Cornish pasty, filling of steak and vegetables

Steak and Potato Cornish Pasty

Yield: Makes 6 very large pasties, 12 medium ones, or ~20 small child sized hot pockets.

Steak and Potato Cornish Pasty

Ingredients

  • Filling:
  • -1 1/2# steak or ground beef, already cooked and chopped into small pieces
  • -1 large (or 2 med) onion, peeled and finely diced
  • -1 large potato, UN-peeled if organic and finely diced ( add 2 large if you delete the rutabega)
  • -1 medium turnip, peeled and finely diced
  • -1/2 rutabega, peeled and finely diced (a huge root veggie, throw the rest in a veggie soup)
  • -a big handful of chopped parsley from the garden or 2 TBSP of dried parsley flakes
  • -salt and pepper to taste
  • -egg wash made with two egg white or just use milk instead
  • -extra pats of butter to dot the filling
  • Pastry:
  • -4 1/2 c. unbleached all purpose flour, (we use organic King Arthur brand ~ no GMOs)
  • -1 tsp. sea salt
  • -1/2 cup solid (cold) coconut oil, cut into small chunks
  • -1/2 cup butter, cubed (pref. organic) cut into cubes
  • -1 1/3 cup chilled water (keep very cold until right before use)

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour and salt. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut butter and coconut into flour mixture until particles are the size of small peas. Sprinkle in chilled water, a little at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry dough almost cleans side of bowl. Form dough into a ball and cut dough into 6 sections. Important: Chill for at least half an hour.
  3. On a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin, roll out each section into a rough 10-11 inch circle. Place 1 1/2 cups of vegetable filling and meat in the center of each rolled dough circle; sprinkle parsley, salt, and pepper as desired. Bring the sides together and seal by rolling and crimping edges together. Make 3 or 4 small slits in the top of the pasty to allow steam to escape during cooking.
  4. Place pasties onto a large parchment-covered baking sheet. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until golden brown, 25 minutes on the top rack, and 20+ minutes on the middle. When switching trays, be sure to rotate the trays (front to back) for even browning.
  5. Pasties can be served hot or cold. They make a great sack lunch and freeze well.
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Tutorial

Filling:

While potatoes and onions are traditional, you can use any root vegetable you have on hand. Variations include the addition of swede (rutabega), turnips, carrots, or even peas, but a Cornishman will tell you these are not the genuine article.

rutabega, potato, turnip, carrots

Dice the veggies into fairly small cubes. You can save the usual step of stove-top steaming and add them raw; they will cook just fine due to their small size. Rutabega is a very mild tasting yellow turnip and very inexpensive. The huge root above was 79¢.

diced veggies, meat pies

I used steak cut into cubes for this special birthday meal, but you can use any pre-cooked meat of choice. Possibilities include browned and drained ground beef, diced beef or lamb roast, diced chicken, or bacon, etc.

cubed steak for meat pies, pasties

Pastry:

Work both the cold coconut oil and butter into the flour mixture until particles are the size of small peas. Sprinkle in water, a little at a time, tossing with fork (or fingers) until all flour is moistened and pastry dough almost cleans side of bowl. Add the cold water and work into dough. Do not over knead.

cutting butter and coconut oil into pastry flour

Divide your dough into 6 equal portions.

dough, pastry, unbleached all purpose flour, King Arthur, organic

Sprinkle your rolling surface with flour and take 1/6 of the dough, rolling it into a rough circle.

rolling out pastry dough, making pasties, Cornish

Fill each portion of dough with approximately 1/6th of the diced vegetables, meat, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Don’t worry about being exact as that takes some of the fun out of it!

steak and veggie filling, meat pie, Cornish pasty

Cut 5 or 6 small cubes of butter over filling. We eat organic butter fairly liberally since it actually good for you.

cut butter into pastry, over meat and veggie filling

Pull the sides up gently. Rolling the dough too thin can be a problem, but this recipe is one we have found to be fairly stretchy and that doesn’t tear easily.

making pasties, meat pies

Roll and crimp the edges into a thick seam atop the pie. You could also make the seam at the side for a more traditional ‘handle’. This is where the artist can express oneself!

making crust, meat pies, pasty edge

Place the filled, ready-to-bake pasties on cookie sheets. Add the egg wash liberally (or use milk in a pinch) with a baster for a shiny crust.

These are a whole meal in themselves, and most any man in your family will be totally satisfied after eating one.

egg wash on pastry crust, Cornish pasty, meat pie

Bake for 45-55 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 425 ° until golden brown and crispy on the edges.

Making the Cornish Pasty~ Tutorial, piping hot pasty, fresh from the oven, golden crust, meat pies

There is no rule as to the size you have to make them; you can cut everything in half and still have a very good sized pie. Adjust your time for baking. They are excellent served with a fresh green salad and fruit to balance their richness.

“It is said that the Devil never crossed the Tamar into Cornwall on account of the well-known habit of Cornish women of putting everything left-over into a pasty, and that he was not sufficiently courageous to risk such a fate!”  ~Cornish Recipes Ancient and Modern, 23rd edition~ early legend

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~ Jacqueline

This entry was posted in Food & Recipes, History, Tutorial. Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Making the Cornish Pasty~ Tutorial

  1. Deborah Berko says:

    I am a Michigan girl and pasties are famous in the Upper Penninsula. I haven’t had one since going gluten free and really miss them. My quest for a great gluten free pie crust has begun! BTW . . . Pasties freeze beautifully. :-)

  2. Toni says:

    Oh, this is a really fun post. It’s been a long time since I was in England, but I do remember the meat pies. (I was very young, new to homemaking, and more interested in other things back then.)
    I really loved reading the history behind the way they were made. Thank you for taking the time to show how to make t hem. The tutorial is excellent.

    • Jacqueline says:

      Thank you, Toni, for your kind words. Like Deborah B. said in her comment, the Michiganers (Upper Peninsula) have a regional pasty based on the ones brought by the Cornish peoples coming to America to work in the copper mines. Thanks for stopping by :)

  3. JES says:

    This is interesting. We make something similar that derived from Russia. However, our filling is sauteed cabbage, carrot and ground beef. You can do a raised dough or a pastry like dough like yours above. And YES, they are excellent for traveling and always a treat! Yours look really hearty! I might have to experiment more with our fillings!

  4. Renee says:

    I think I’ve found a new “go-to” recipe! Thank you SO VERY MUCH for sharing! I’d never heard of these, though they seem very similar to pierogies. :)

  5. Oh fun! I started making pasties about 20 years ago when I bought this great whole grain cookbook. Being French/Russian, Welsh cooking was not in my repertoire. I really love them but my husband only likes wet food. I tried some putting a gravy inside and he liked them better. Thanks for these great tutorials. My recipe had me sealing them on the sides rather than the top…I like the top better! Thanks for linking up.

  6. Trisha says:

    Beautiful ! God’s creativeness never ends!
    Thank you for sharing,
    Trisha : )

  7. Amanda says:

    These look wonderful. The history of them was fun to learn too.

  8. jedidja says:

    This food is completely unknown to these Dutch mother. You know what I think? I fill the patties with sauerkraut, Dutch smoked sausage, cream and cashew nuts. But just maybe … as the Google translator does his best, I try to bake / cook what you posted on your blog :-) Thank you Lord, for this food. All over the world.

    • Jacqueline says:

      Jedidja,
      I can’t tell you how good that sounds to me, an old Dutch girl. Did you hear that my father is from Holland? The sauerkraut and sausage is something I loved as a little girl. Put it in a pastry dough and it will be amazing! I love that I am able to get to know you over the internet <3
      Please let me know how they turn out :)

  9. Jacqueline….I am so going to try these. I love the rustic-ness of them and variety that can be created. Thank you friend for passing on the recipe and history. Blessings to you.

  10. Carol says:

    Enjoyed reading another perspective on pasties– and your great tutorial. Like Deborah I am a Michigan girl. My grandfathers worked in the copper mines and took pasties with them for a meal. My family has always enjoyed homemade pasties or Upper Peninsula pasties (available everywhere in the U.P.) for a picnic along Lake Superior.

    We have some gluten sensitivity in our family and I have played with variations for the pasty dough. I have found it possible to substitute 1/4 to 1/3 of the flour with brown rice flour. I also add an egg yolk and a tablespoon of vinegar with cold water that I sprinkle in the dough.

    I have my recipe for the miner’s pasty on my website. http://carolvanderwoudern.com/miners-pasty/

    • Jacqueline says:

      Carol,
      By your last name would I be way off to think you are of Dutch descent?? I will come for a visit and see what you do~~
      Thank you so much for giving us some direction to reduce the amount of wheat in this recipe. We are now looking at making some changes, but we are slow as a herd of turtles to do it. Every little bit helps :) Between you and Joy’s comment, maybe we will get there sooner!! Blessings to you~~

  11. jacinda says:

    These look incredible, Jacqueline! And I love your new recipe print-out version!

  12. Kay says:

    I’ve just found your blog (which I’m finding really enjoyable) so hence the late addition to comments on this post. I live in Camborne, Cornwall in England and was surprised and delighted to see a post about pasties. Here in the UK, pasties have always been referred to as Cornish pasties. But now there is a law in place that states that only pasties actually made in the Duchy can be called Cornish pasties.
    Your pasties looked delicious, however, a Cornish housewife wouldn’t dice the vegetables. she would cut thin slices off the vegetables. Turnips wouldn’t be used, only swede. But funnily enough, swedes are often referred to here as turnips – just to confuse the issue! :) I was taught by my mother, grandmother and aunts that pasties should be crimped along the side, but my husband disagrees and says that the crimping should be along the top. (They all taste good, no matter where the crimping is – apart from the mass produced pasties sold by large corporations!)
    Our government recently tried to introduce a tax on hot pasties bought from bakers’ shops. There was a lot of opposition and the tax was withdrawn!

    • Jacqueline says:

      Welcome, Kay,
      Thanks for stopping by. I had read some of that (and about the tax!) , but you LIVE there, and so I find your information much more reliable and valuable. We had wanted to put in carrots as they are a favorite in our household, but decided we’d hold off for another time. We love to be ‘proper’ :) Have a blessed day!

  13. Christephi says:

    Hi there! My pasties are in the oven. I had to make two without veggies for my picky kids (seriously, some days you just pick your battles). And I mixed the egg yolk leftover from the egg wash with some veggies and meat for two for my husband. Probably totally “improper,” but I hated to waste the yolk…and the man loves his eggs. LOL! They smell so good and I can’t wait to try them! Thanks for posting the recipe!

    • Jacqueline says:

      Yay! You did make them :) I think it is grand you used the egg was the way You did! What is that old saying, “Waste not, want not”??
      God bless you, Christephi!

  14. Nanasknoll says:

    Does this pastry work as good for pies?

    • Jacqueline says:

      Hello Nanasknoll!
      The pasty would be an excellent pie crust, in my opinion, but we have not used it for that yet! We almost used it for the gooseberry pie in last week’s post :)I would love to know how you like it! God’s blessings to you and yours~

  15. Toni says:

    Jacqueline, I’m really glad you posted this again. Goodman just started a new job, where he will be gone from home twelve hours each workday, eventually. So, I’m in need lots of good ideas to pack in his lunchbox besides a regular lunch, and I think this is going to be one of them. I plan to make them snack-sized for a mid-morning or afternoon snack. I just got back from the store where I bought the first rutabaga I ever bought to try this out. (The turnips looked so awful I decided I’d try a rutabaga. ;) It’s not bad at all, so I’m going to scoot into the kitchen and get started. I’ll let you know how they turn out. Have a great evening.

  16. Marilyn K says:

    Hello Jacqueline,
    I am not sure if I mentioned it before in another post but we live in Tilden Township in Marquette County, MI! We live 3 miles from an iron ore mine, and my husband works there as a mechanic on the big (I mean bigger than your house big) trucks. I believe 40% of employed people in our county work for the mine. His family for several generations has worked at the iron ore mines. And of course, pasties are well- loved here. I don’t make them but I know my husband would love it if I did! Just hard to follow the women in his life- mom, grandmas, aunts – who have perfected the art of pasty making! They all use Crisco in their crusts, unfortunately. Typically they are filled with meat, potato, rutabaga and onion. An easier way to make them is to make a pasty pie by putting the filling in a large roaster or casserole dish and put the crust on top. Decreases portability, of course, but we never eat them with our hands. We eat them on a plate with ketchup! I recently learned about a dish I was unfamiliar with called a pork pie. I haven’t looked into it much but there’s a lot of pork and not a lot of veggies in it! Thanks for the fun read!
    Marilyn

    • Jacqueline says:

      How interesting!!! I am so glad you told me of the mines and the history there. I have always wondered about the mining in the region. I hope you find a recipe you can make and feel good about for your man.
      Blessings!

  17. These look and sound so good! My mom and I take turns doing the cooking- we rotate every other night- and I am so putting this on my part of the menu plan, and very soon too! Thanks for sharing the recipe :)

  18. Loan N. says:

    Your beautiful pictures are making me hungry! Thank you for the recipe and the instructional photos – They make me feel like I could do this :)

  19. helen drury says:

    This is most definitely NOT a Cornish Pasty recipe !!!!!!!!!! They only contain beef (skirt or chuck) onion. potato and swede. The pastry is a basic short crust no coconut oil etc.

  20. tessa says:

    These looks so yummy and remind me of my brief time in England. We shared with our FB followers. Maybe this will be our New Year’s Eve meal…or maybe we’ll just eat them sometime because it’s Tuesday. Tuesdays are worth celebrating!

  21. Pingback: Simple Meals Friday #65 - Nourishing Simplicity

  22. Wow this post seems to have exploded! :) I LOVE pasties too! I first heard about them when I was visiting friends in MI. Now I just need to get my hands on some root vegtables. I haven’t seen many of them in Mexico….

    You’re post is featured this week on Simple Meals Friday! Thanks for sharing!

    Blessings,

    Katie

    http://nourishingsimplicity.org/2013/12/simple-meals-friday-65.html

  23. Pingback: Simple Meals Friday - Natural Living Mamma

  24. Kay says:

    Further to my previous post from last year, there’s been a further development about Cornish pasties. They are now a protected ‘species’ and by law they cannot be called ‘Cornish’ pasties unless they have the correct contents and they also should be crimped along the side, not on the top.
    We Cornish are very protective of our national dish! :)
    Deth da!

  25. Kay says:

    Ooops! I’m very sorry. The first line of my comment should read, ‘Further to my previous comment from last year …’

  26. Matt says:

    Thank you so much for this excellent tutorial. After marrying a Cornish woman, I’ve discovered my love of pasties.

    I particuarly LOVE the video clip you’ve shared of Cornish Nan showing her Grandson how she cooks a traditional Cornish pasty from Cornwall. It is just wonderful – and I’ve now watched a few of her other videos. Thank you so much for sharing this clip.

    • Jacqueline says:

      You are so welcome, Matt. We have had a blast making them and are also developing a love of these wonderful pockets! It sounds like you have a good wife :)
      Have a blessed day~

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