Yooper-Azerbaijani Pasties with Sharon Smith’s Crust

January 21, 2010 § 14 Comments

Today I am going to share with you a relative newcomer in my weekly repertoire:


In case you are not familiar with them, pasties are a Cornish dish particularly known as miner food in our parts, since the miners were able to take them down into the mines as lunch, thanks to their (the pasties’, not the miners’) compact and filling nature. According to my BFF, the miners would put them into their hats to keep them (miners, not the pasties) warm.

Now, there are two schools of making pasties (well, there’s more than that, without a doubt, but for the sake of simplicity we’ll just focus on two today) – one is mine, and the other one is… well, the other one!

Personally, both Jacob and I prefer it when I pre-cook the meat and the potatoes (but not the onions) separately, before stuffing the pastry, because this allows for a softer, more tender crust due to the shortened baking time. To do so, I roast the whole potatoes in the oven, and brown the cubed meat in a skillet.

The other, more traditional way, calls for stuffing the pastry with the uncooked filling. I find that this causes the potatoes to taste more like boiled (or steamed, which is what they are), and the pastry to become crunchier and drier. But it’s really not bad that way either! I turn to this method when I am short on time, and don’t have any leftover meat or potatoes.

Now this is exactly what I did today – and here is how:

2 sticks of butter + 1 C water (now you see why I go through so much butter?)

Melt them together in a pot over low heat.

Next you’ll need approximately these many potatoes and a couple of onions you grew on your farm. What, you don’t have a farm? Well, the storebotten ones will do just as well.

Peel them.

Dice them. These here are a combination of Russets and Yukon Golds. I just thought the melange was pretty.

Chop the onions and add to the potatoes.

Next, you’ll need some meat. A variety of different cuts on the stewy (read “cheap”) side will do. Beef is good, but venison, in my opinion, offers a deeper flavor.

This here is a cut known as a “round steak.” You can tell by the roundness :). Round steak comes from the back leg of a cow, and is also good for making jerky (though, once again, it has nothing on venison in this department), or a dish called “Swiss steak,” which is, roughly, a steak braised in tomato sauce for an extended period of time. I’ll share it with you some other time. I love this cut because it is blessed with a section of a marrow bone, and bone marrow, as every Russian worth his salt will know, is the most delectable thing on the planet, exulted many times in various works of Russian literature. This here steak came from a steer grazed on the emerald-green grass of our farm.

Next, trim off all the fat. That’s what I do, anyway.

Cube the meat and add it to the potatoes and the onions.


3 1/4 C + 1 T flour and 1 t baking powder


Measure 3 1/4 C + 1 T of flour into a bowl of a mixer, and add 1 t of baking powder.

Mix this together using your mixer’s paddle attachment (or a wooden spoon).

Dump the resulting dough onto a floured surface.

Shape into a ball.

Cut into 8 pieces. I like my pasties on a smaller side, because I find the filling cooks better this way.

Seal the seam tightly all around.

This doesn’t look perfect – but we are not after perfection here, are we?

Next, break one of your farm-fresh eggs into a bowl…

…and beat it with a fork.

Please understand, I am not trying to patronize you here – I just love taking pictures of farm-fresh, free-range eggs because of their characteristic bright-orange yolks.

Place them on a cookie sheet (I’d recommend spreading some parchment paper underneath, unless you want to be chiseling them off later, like I usually do).

Brush them with the beaten egg. My four-year-old daughter especially enjoys doing this – so much so, that Santa brought her her own pastry brush this year all the way from the North Pole.

Now place your pasty-laden cookie sheets into a 350-degree oven, bake for one hour, and you’ll get this.

Like a good American family, we like to have ours with ketchup (and, for all my crunchiness, I’ll take Heinz over Annie’s Organic any day – ketchup just isn’t the same without the high-fructose corn syrup).

Yooper-Azerbaijani Pasties with Sharon Smith’s Crust

For the crust:

  • 3 1/4 C + 1 T flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 C (two sticks) of butter melted together with 1 C of water in a saucepan over low heat

For the filling:

  • 1 to 1.5 lb of stewing beef or venison, round steak, or sirloin steak
  • 8 small potatoes (or 5-6 medium ones, you get the idea)
  • 2 small to medium onions
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the crust ingredients, dump it out onto a floured board, shape into a ball, and cut into 8 pieces. Peel and dice potatoes and onions, and add cubed beef. Add salt and pepper to taste. Roll out each piece of dough into a small circle, place the filling on one half, and seal tightly around the edges. Brush with the beaten egg. Place on a cookie sheet lined with a piece of parchment paper, and bake for one hour. Serve with ketchup and a green salad. Save a couple for next day’s breakfast or lunch.

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§ 14 Responses to Yooper-Azerbaijani Pasties with Sharon Smith’s Crust

  • I’m going to try this – no shortage of meat and potatoes here! My husband is always telling me his grandmother made these in Montana. It will be a nice surprise 🙂

    Nice blog!

  • Sofya says:

    Thanks! These are really good.

    There’s another variation: you can pre-cook the filling (separately) – brown the cubed meat and bake the potatoes (whole, then peel and dice), then mix with diced (uncooked) onions, and that will allow to cut the baking time to about thirty minutes, which will yield a much more tender crust (which I actually prefer).

  • That’s a good idea – and fits in with my schedule even better 🙂

  • Jillian says:

    I’m going to make this tonight. I am adding some collard greens to the filling so that I won’t have to mess with making a side dish. Hmm, and maybe some homemade beef gravy to use for sauce.

  • Sofya says:

    Well, however you want to tweak it, is great! I am so excited to see how people suggest their different interpretations of things. Are you going to add the gravy to the filling or dip the pasties into?

  • Jillian says:

    I was planning on using the gravy for a dipping sauce, but just realized I have no Better than Bullion left 😦

  • Sofya says:

    Well in my family it’s more traditionally had with ketchup anyway, because it calls for some sweet-acidic accent of tomato-something.

  • Jillian says:

    I found a rogue can of beef broth and made the gravy. They turned out GREAT!!! Thank you so much for the recipe….it even got 2 thumbs up from a friend of mine from the UP!

  • Sofya says:

    Oh yeah? Awesome! A good portion of my family are Yoopers, and they all love this too.

  • Julie Welch says:

    Hi Sofya,
    I am new to your site thanks to Vince and St.Brigid’s Meadow for their note on your site. I am so happy to have discovered your pasty recipe and am anxious to try it on my family. I am familiar with them as they were frequently used as meals by some relatives who worked in mines in the Upper Peninsula of MI. Look forward to reading your postings. Take care and Happy Spring…Jul

  • Catherine says:

    These look soooo good. How does the crust differ from regular pastry (except being a lot easier, or so it seems)? Is it still flaky? Breadier? Would it work for pie, for example? Thanks!

    • Sofya says:

      Hi Catherine,

      I think there are many different kind of pastry, but I also think that what you mean is pie crust. Is that what you mean when you say pastry? If I was to compare this to pie crust, I would say that 1)it is not particularly flaky 2)it’s kinda breadier, yes. 3)it’s a lot easier, breadier, and less flaky BECAUSE it has that much more water 4)it doesn’t work for pies very well – I tried it! I mean it’s not awful as pie crust, but it’s not great.

  • SmartDogs says:

    I was a yooper kid and grew up on pasties. The recipe done “your way” sounds great, I can’t wait to try it!

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You are currently reading Yooper-Azerbaijani Pasties with Sharon Smith’s Crust at The Girl's Guide to Guns and Butter.