May 21 2007

Pasties

The pasty question is a vexing one! Should pasties be crimped along the top or flat like a fat bolster. Is the beef minced or chopped – must it be beef? Does carrot go into the filling or just turnip and onion?
Mrs Beeton, 1926, adds baking powder to her pastry and gravy to the filling! “ Farmhouse Fare” 5/- 1956 slices the beef and makes pastry with butter. Even Jane Grigson finishes the pasty with a frill on the top. She does makes the pastry with lard though. A minefield!
My Cornish mother-in-law’s son is quite adamant: you cannot get a proper pasty in Devon, not even Widecombe!
His mother remembered, as a child at the beginning of the last century, pasties, big and bolster shaped, being made very early in the morning. They were wrapped in newspaper and packed into an old suitcase or box and carried to the fields by the farm workers. When it was time to rest and eat, the pasties were still warm, comforting to cold hands and empty stomachs. If times were hard the filling was more potato and turnip than meat. One end was often jam-filled for pudding, all washed down with a bottle of cold tea, then back to work.
Make a short crust pastry with 12 oz plain flour, 6 oz lard, ¼ tsp of salt and a little water, put it into the fridge to rest. Chop 1 lb of chuck steak, 4-5oz onion, 3oz turnip, 8oz potato. Mix together with salt and plenty of pepper. Roll out the pastry and cut out two large circles, divide the meat mixture between the two. Brush the rim of the pastry with beaten egg then fold in half and roll over the edge to form a crescent.. Place the pasties on a baking tray, brush them with beaten egg and bake in a hot oven ( 6/400) for 20 minutes, lower the heat and continue cooking for approximately another 40 minutes. Eat hot or cold.
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