Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cornish pasties, not to be confused with other things named pasties

In some twisted web of present exchange, I got the flu for Christmas. So, I can't exactly remember what I was watching in my illness-induced haze that got me thinking about Cornish pasties. I only remember that I wasn't nauseous just thinking about them and that was progress. So, last night, when I finally felt like cooking again, I made them.

Now, this recipe has been sitting in the family's Gold Medal Cookbook for years, probably untouched, but as it happened, I found a few recipes online as well. Then I decided to just make my own, and it worked out. I happened to have a pound of stew meat and a pie crust in the freezer, and that is really the key to all this jazz here.

The crust seems to be All Important in this pasty situation, so here's the recipe. It comes from the King Arthur Flour website, and it's on the link for pecan pie. Don't let that deter you. It's the best pie crust recipe I've used thus far, and made some tidy pasties.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup plus 1 to 2 tablespoons ice water

Whisk the flour and salt; Cut in the shortening to pea-size crumbs. Dice butter and cut in to nickel-sized pieces. Add water two tablespoons at a time, until dough begins to come together. Transfer to wax paper, and fold dough on itself to bring together into a 3 to 4-in. disk.

This part is important: "Roll the disk on its edge, like a wheel, to smooth out the edges. This step will ensure your dough will roll out evenly, without a lot of cracks and splits at the edges later. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling." So true.

Okay, so that's your piecrust. Put that in the fridge, and let's move on to...

... the Filling:

1/2 lb. stew meat, cut into 1/2 to 1-in. pieces
1-2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1-2 carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 onion, diced
salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, seasoning well with the salt and pepper. I also threw in some Greek seasoning, and you could put in some oregano. Set aside.

I should mention I made twice this amount. The rest is going into a chili today, but would have made a great hash. Your call.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Divide the pie crust into four pieces. Roll one piece out on a well-floured surface to about a 6 to 7-in. circle. Place 1/2 to 3/4 cup of filling on bottom half of circle, leaving an inch margin. Dot with pat of butter. Fold over pastry and crimp. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Cut small vents in the top of each pasty. Brush pasties with milk, and bake in 350-degree oven about 55 minutes.

Now, what really made these for me is the sauce. This I did get out of the Gold Medal Cookbook, and though I adapted it, it's heavenly. Now, in the cookbook it's a wine sauce. Since I didn't have any wine, we're going to call it... gravy. Whatever. It tastes good!

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup boiling water
2 beef boullion cubes.

Dissolve boullion cubes in water, and set aside. Heat butter in small saucepan on low until melted and a bit brown. Add flour, and stir constantly, until mixture is deeper brown and sort of caramel-like. Remove from heat, and add boullion water. Turn heat up to high for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly, and let thicken. Remove from heat. You can keep this on super low while you're waiting for the pasties to cook.

So there you have it -- a meal to bring you back from the brink, on a holiday week. Have a great one and eat hearty, mateys!

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