One of my favorite things about traveling is experiencing all the different food offerings available in new locations. Our family has a rule that when we travel we cannot eat anywhere we have at home. Luckily, our small town has modest offerings so this isn’t usually much of a challenge.
On my first trip to London, I was pleasantly surprised at the multi-cultural mecca of food that awaited me and let me tell you, I dove right in. Luckily, I was travelling with like-minded friends and usually we would all order something different and then share our meals family style. Aside from the traditional and delicious English offerings of Fish n’Chips, Sunday Roast and Afternoon Tea, one of my newly beloved discoveries was Cornish Pasties- or hand pies.
The Cornish Pasty is a small circle of pastry filled with meat, potatoes, turnips, veggies, and fresh herbs, folded over, sealed and baked until buttery and flaky with aromatic and rich, savory goodness inside. There are lots of Pasty shops in the UK, in the train stations, and many pubs have their own offerings of this delectable treat.There are many varieties to choose- I’ve sampled chicken, sausage, and even vegetarian offerings that were all equally delicious. It was one of my favorite on the go lunch choices.
Sadly, I have not been anywhere in the USA that offers a Cornish Pasty- though there are some variations such as empanadas and calzones, which both are similar in their approach and are delicious in their own right.
Upon a recent massive craving for this treat, I decided to either travel back to London (not a bad plan) or try my hand at making them at home (a decidedly cheaper if not less fun option).
Budgets and time being what they are- the second option seemed more reasonable so I decided to give it a go.
This was a little more labor intensive than need be since I also decided to make my own puff pastry crust from scratch, but if you want an easier version, just buy ready made pie crust or puff pastry crust and continue with the steps for the filling.
Also please note, I slow cooked my filling before I filled and baked the pastries. I believe traditionally, the stuffing is placed in the pastry raw and then all baked together. This made me a bit nervous, so I cooked the filling ahead of time.
1 lb chopped stew meat- chop it much smaller than it comes out of the package
½ onion minced
2T minced garlic
1 C carrot chips chopped
1 ½ C Yukon Gold potatoes cubed
4-6 Bella mushrooms chopped
2T fresh herbs: Rosemary, Thyme, Sage
Salt/Pepper to taste
1T olive oil
½ C Merlot
1 C beef bone broth
Ok. So for the filling, I got an enamel coated cast iron pan, added olive oil, onions, garlic and herbs and quick sauteed them just until onions start to turn clear. After that, I added the meat, and turned up the heat a bit to sear it. I just cooked this for maybe 5-6 minutes before adding bone broth and merlot and then simmered on low for about 45 minutes to an hour. After the meat is done cooking in the nice rich broth, I added the vegetables and simmered for another 30-45 minutes.
Once all ingredients are cooked through, it is time to fill your pastry.
This is messy but kind of fun. Roll out your pastry like you would for a pie crust- maybe ¼ inch thick. Cut circles using a medium bowl as your template. Use plenty of flour so they don’t stick to the mat and are easy to move and fold. I used my vintage Tupperware rolling mat, but a nice Silpat sheet works well for this process too.
You want to put about 1/4 -½ cup of filling in the center of each circle- it really depends on the size of your circles- you may need to experiment.
After adding the filling, fold the pastry over to make a half circle. Keep your filling in the middle and leave the edges neat with only crust. You can use some water and brush the inner edges and then seal with a fork or if you want to be fancy- braid, pinch or otherwise make your edge decorative. I found that pinching closed with a fork and then gently rolling up the edge worked well and kept everything sealed in nicely. Mine are not nearly as pretty as the ones you get at the shops, but hey- it was my first go and I'm not exactly a professional...
Place filled and sealed pastries on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with an egg wash, sprinkle with a bit of salt and bake at 375* for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Once you remove these from the oven you can brush with melted butter if you desire.
The insides are scorching HOT so you may let them sit a bit before serving them.
Pasties are fantastic for picnics, cookouts, or a nice weeknight dinner.
They are a bit labor intensive, but totally worth it and delicious!!!