Saturday, June 9, 2018

Cornish Pasties – well Cornish-ish anyway !

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If you are from Cornwall, shut your eyes and block your ears for I am about to commit sacrilege. First though, here’s a little bit about the Cornish pastry, the traditional fare of Cornish tin miners. It is simply a half-moon-shaped savoury pastry containing diced beef skirt, onion, turnip (swede), potato, maybe some parsley, and little else. In some places there was a tradition of putting the initials of the owner on the pasty so that in mines where an oven was provided, the miner could pick out his own pasty from the hoards.

The Cornish pasty has recently been given Protected Geographical Status, meaning only pasties made in Cornwall and containing only the traditional ingredients can be called Cornish pasties.

As my humble pasty is not made in Cornwall, it is only Corn-ish.  These Corn-ish pasties went down a storm at a picnic last weekend. As they cannot be truly Cornish I didn’t feel so bad about going off-piste with ingredients like sweet potato and chorizo. I’ve used a mixture of meats because that’s what was in the fridge. You could use all beef mince if you prefer.

For 10 one-person pasties you will need...
... to pre-heat the oven to 175°C at step 4
500g plain flour
1 teaspoon fine table salt
150g butter, chilled and grated
175mls iced water 

1                    Place the flour, salt and grated butter in a large mixing bowl. Rub the butter into the flour. This simply means taking pinches of the mixure and rubbing it between thumb and fingers until it resembles fine breadcrumbs (or use your stand mixer). Mix in just enough of the iced water to bring the pastry together in a ball – you may not need all the water. Cover with cling wrap. Refrigerate until needed.

250g minced beef
150g finely diced veal
75g onion, finely chopped
75g potato, finely diced
75g sweet potato, finely diced
25g chorizo, finely diced (optional)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
¼ teaspoon fine table salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

Egg wash
1 egg, beaten and mixed with a pinch of salt

2                    Place all the filling ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and mix together until the vegetables and herbs are well distributed throughout the meat.
3                    To assemble the pasties, roll out the pasty to about 3mm thick. Stamp out 13cm circles (5 inches). I don’t have a pastry cutter this size so I use a small bowl as a template, resting it on the pastry and cutting around it with a sharp knife.
4                    Pile approximately 2 tablespoons of the mixture on one half of each pastry round, leaving a margin of at least 1cm at the edge. Fold the other half of the pastry over the filling and press the edges together.
5                    Either crimp the edges of the pastry together using a fork, or try this crimping technique: Stand the pastry up so that the joined edges are at the top. Starting at one end, clamp the pastry join between a thumb and forefinger and twist it through 180 degrees, then using the other hand, hold this twist in place while with the other hand you move along the top of the pastry, a thumbs-width at a time, pinching and twisting. Tuck both ends under to seal the pastry.

Cheap therapy: Pinch and twist. Repeat.

6                    Place the prepared pasties on a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking parchment. Brush lightly with egg wash and transfer to the preheated oven.
7                    Bake for about 35 minutes or until golden brown. If like me you are rushing out the door to a picnic, wrap the hot pastries loosely in a clean tea towel – they’ll get soggy if you seal them in aluminium foil or cling wrap. Otherwise place them on a cooling rack and leave them to cool. They also freeze beautifully. 

Corn-ish pasties - ok who wants to fight over the last two?

If life is too short to take the time to fill and crimp 10 individual pasties, you could always supersize them and make four large ones instead, for sharing. The larger ones need about 50 minutes in the oven.
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