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.
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.
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.