Saturday, 26 October 2013

Cornish Pasties

When I mentioned these the other day I had a lot of people ask about them.

The recipe is very easy.

Cut up into small cubes (1/2") some stewing steak,  onions, carrots, potatoes and rutabaga. You need about the same quantity of vegetables as meat, or heavy on the vegetables is fine for economy. Toss together in a bowl and add salt and LOTS of pepper.

Roll out pastry into elongated rounds, place a handful of the filling on one half, avoiding the edges. Paint the edges with beaten egg to seal, fold in half, then crimp around the edge to make a strong seal. Brush tops with egg and bake at 175C for about 40 minutes.

It's simple because this is peasant food. This was what tin miners took for their lunches. That's the reason you find them in South-West England and Chicago, because when the tin mines in Cornwall were depleted the miners emigrated. A little bit of social history there.

There are plenty of variations, including seafood and dessert versions. You can even do savoury at one end and sweet at the other to make a two course meal. And modern pasties include chicken tikka masalas, surprise surprise. So you can be very creative here.

There are a few things to remember when making them.

1. The ingredients go in raw (for the traditional recipe) so it's very important that the pastry is airtight. Everything steams in its own juices inside, like a mini crockpot. So always check there are no holes, and be generous with the egg glaze.

2. For the same reason the pastry needs to be slightly thicker than you'd normally roll it out, so use a pastry that's not too dense. It can be flaky or shortcrust, but we like the halfway-between-the-two recipe on the back of the Tenderflake tub. However, the steam effect does make the inside "fluffy" so this is a really good project for those still nervous about making pastry. (Note: The authentic Cornish Pasty pastry is either suet-based or butter-based depending on who you ask, and I'm not getting into that argument.)

3. They are good hot or cold, but don't try to transport them hot, they fall apart easily. Left to cool they freeze well so it's a good idea to make a lot.

What to have with them is totally up to you, as it's really a meal in itself. I usually serve baked beans simply because that's what my family like. As you already have both pastry and potato included, you don't really need another carb, but nobody said this was diet food anyway, so you can also serve mashed potato or fries. I like ketchup on mine, BTW.


  1. It's funny that you mention Chicago because I had never tried one until I went to a Ren Faire years ago!

    1. Really? Maybe not so widely known these days then. But I have it on reliable authority that they are indeed there, well-made, and "authentic". Google?

  2. It may be a different part of the city. We're southside so we're all 'Murican food and Greek joints (Greek owned, American style, 20 pages of menu food).