Nothing says love like a steak pasty with a heart shaped cut-out!
Since moving to England, my already multicultural cooking and baking repertoire has only been enhanced. The British LOVE their savoury pastries, one of the most famous being the Cornish pasty. It is a baked pastry filled with beef, swede, potatoe, onion, salt and pepper. It is the original portable meal, a favourite food for Cornish tin miners and farm labourers. Being such a popular dish, I decided to recreate it in my own kitchen.
Making the pastry was really easy, and it took me a few minutes to prepare it before chilling it in the fridge. The slicing and dicing of the meat and vegetables is a bit more time consuming, especially as the vegetables need to be cut thinly so that they nearly melt into the meat on cooking. Crimping is all-important, and according to experts, you need 21 crimps to make a proper pasty. Well lets just say that didn’t happen this time.
I did however add my own special touches. Although salt and pepper is the only suggested seasoning, I used a variety of herbs and spices to kick it up a notch. In addition, I used the leftover pastry dough to cut out heart shapes to decorate each pasty. This is the way to a man’s heart, especially the savoury way!
CORNISH PASTRY INGREDIENTS
- 2 1/4 cups plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup cold lard, diced
- 2/3 cup cold unsalted butter, diced
- 1/3 cup ice-cold water
- 1 egg lightly beaten
CORNISH PASTRY FILLING INGREDIENTS
- 1 large onion
- 1/2 swede thinly sliced
- 1 small baking potatoe
- 300 g beef skirt
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- Garlic powder
- Dried herbs (parsley, oregano, thyme)
- Hot spices (hot paprika, chili powder)
CORNISH PASTRY INSTRUCTIONS
- Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the diced lard and butter and rub in with your fingertips. The mixture should resemble breadcrumbs.
- Stir in the water and knead briefly until the dough is smooth. Shape into a ball, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- While the dough is cooling, prepare the filling. Slice the onion into fine pieces and cut the swede and potatoes into small, thin strips. Keep all three item in separate piles. Chop the beef into small, thin pieces.
- Heat the oven to 200°C / 390°F. Divide the pastry into 5 equal pieces and roll each out on a lightly floured surface to a 3 mm thickness. Using a plate as the guide, cut out a circle shape.
- Leaving a small border, start scattering the filling on a semi-circle of the pastry shape. Layer of swede, potatoes and onion topped with your choice of seasoning. Add the beef chunks and a final layer of onion. Add further seasonings and a few small dots of butter.
- Close the lid of the pasty, ensuring that the dough does not rip while the edges meet. Press together firmly and then crimp the edges together.
- Fill and seal the remaining circles of pastry and place the pasties on the baking trays. Cut 2 small slits in the middle of each one.
- Brush the pastry with lightly beaten egg. If you have leftover pastry you can use your creativity for a unique touch. With Valentine’s Day coming up, I used a heart-shaped cookie cutter to decorate with a heart-shaped pastry. The shape should stick to the dough, but ensure you brush the top with the beaten egg to add shine and colour.
- Bake for 20 minutes at 200 C / 390 F, turn the baking tray, lower the oven to 160 C / 320 F and bake for another 30 – 35 minutes.
- Enjoy fresh out of the oven. They are also great the next day, especially if you heat them in the oven.