Thursday, July 20, 2006

Cornish Pasties

While I’ve been building houses, canoeing, fishing and in general recreating in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, some of you have been salivating like Pavlov’s dogs over the through of Cornish Pasties. You can buy these pasties all over up there, but I first experienced them in Nevada. It seems that wherever the Cornish went, they left behind the recipe for pasties. These “meat pies” are ideal for a miner’s pail and can be eaten without folks by holding onto the crust. However, most pasties in the UP are served with gravy over them, necessitating a plate, folk and napkin. Interestingly, too, there weren't too many miners from Cornwall in the Eastern UP, they were more in the western UP, up around Marquette, Houghton and Copper Harbor and into Wisconsin where mining was big in the 19th Century. In the east, it was mostly logging and, if my history is correct, settled mostly by Finns, Swedes and Germans.

Yes, I ate a pasty while in the UP, but I preferred our camp dinners of fried brook trout with potatoes and onions and strong Honduran coffee. I’ll try to get another post about my travels by Saturday. Until then, fix yourself some pasties and eat them under the table, without washing up beforehand, imaging that you're taking a break in the bowels of the earth while in search of highgrade ore.

Cornish Pasties

Crust: 1 cup of flour
1/3 cup of shortening
Dash of salt (not very much)
A little cold water

Cut shortening into flour and salt mixture, drop water on the mixture and mix in with a fork, divide into 3 parts, refrigerate

Mix: ½ pound top round steak up into cubes (I’ve substituted lamb)
3 peeled medium potatoes, diced
1 good sized onion, chopped (you can never have too little onion, in my humble opinion)
1 chopped carrot
1 chopped rutabaga

Roll out the crust into a circle approximately 9”. On ½ of the dough, place 1/3 of the mix along with salt and pepper and a pat of butte. Fold the dough over the other half and seal firmly by pressing down on the edges with a fork. Make a small hole in the top for steam and brush with a beaten egg. Place on floured cookie sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 300 degrees F and continue baking for 90 minutes.

For a slightly different recipe (from where I borrowed the picture of pasties), check out this link for the World Wide Gourmet. If you don’t want to make them, you can even order them from Lawry’s Pasty Shop.


  1. I don't do crust so I will stick with buying them at a nearby pastie shop.

    Have you been to the Michigan History Museum in Lansing (or some name like that)? They have a replica of a mine so that you can get a feel for what it is like to be in the 'bowels'. Fascinating museum if you've never been.

    I think non-UPers are catered to up there and which is why they serve it with gravy. Ketchup is the original option.

  2. NO NO NO NO!!!!!

    sorry. but i am a cornish girl born and bred and you NEVER put carrots in pasties. EVEr. and what is rutabaga when it's at home??

    BEEF, onion, potatoes, SWEDE (or turnip if no swede is available). and lots of salt and pepper. also the crust is down the side (but thats less important).

    they would also make sweet ones with apple or blackberries inside for afters, or originally both in one pasty seperated by pastry in the middle.

    and gravy?? no way.. ketchup or hp brown sauce since i was a mite :)
    Nummy ;)

  3. Murf--good homemade crust can't be beat. Yes, I've been to the Michigan History Museum, I've also been down in a gold mine--it was neat--and in a coal mine (they don't pay enough to get me to do that kind of work!). I've never seen gravy on the pasties I had out west. Sounds like you and Keda agree on the ketchup.

    Keda, what do you have against carrots? Rutagaba is kind of like a turnip. They're all root vegetables. What is Swede (other than someone from Sweden?) Thanks for speaking as an expert--do you have a recipe to share?

  4. i do it by eye. (rarely i'm afraid... i miss the ruff puff pastry you get fom the shops in cornwall and that my old gran used to make. i cant seem to find a recipe for that at the mo.. and it never works well for me anyway, so i stick with shortcrust)
    here's a pretty good approximation of mine.

    and here's a little history.. i also have a cornish cookery book which lists herb pasties with egg, bacon and egg,hogs pudding, fish and licky (leek with bacon or cheese optional- my gran often made these)

    i don't really know why i object to carrots... they are just wrong. wrong flavour and wrong texture. you will never ever find carrots in a traditional cornish pasty. which is odd as they seemed to put in whatever else was available ;)
    anyway enjoy darling. my mouth is watering..

    oh and rutabaga is swede apparently!! so just drop the carrots and put more of that or potato ;)

  5. I guess from where I come from, that is called a calzone. Basically generic for a pastry filled with whatever. My favorite is to fill it with sausage, onion, spinach, a squirt of mustard and a sprinkle of marjaram. I love to take them to work in my lunch bucket and you can make a bunch up and freeze them for future use as well.

  6. Keda, thanks for the info and insight. You should go to that Cornish Recipe link (which is supposedly about authentic foods of England) and set them straight about the right way to make a pasty. I know what you mean about crust. My mom always used store brought crust, so I had my grandma teach mea and it took a while to prefect making the crust just right--and I still don't always get it as flaky as hers.

    Ed, calzone is an Italian version, isn't it? And it's normally served with tomato sauce over the pasty--but yes, they're essentially the same thing.

  7. Hey, an actual recipe for these things! :) I'll have to try them. (Thanks for visiting me today. ;))

  8. MMmMMMmmmmm Paaaasssstieessss!!
    They look fabulous.
    Have a great weekend and Michele says hi.

  9. Yeah calzones are Italian. I don't eat mine with tomato sauce or gravy over them. Maybe I'm missing out.

    I also make them with fillings such as cheeseburger, pizza, any type of pot pie (which your recipe reminds me of) and beans.

    I make my own crust when I have the time. The key to a flaky crust is ice cold butter and cutting it in using a cold bowl and mixing with cold water so that the butter stays cold.

  10. Sage your trips amaze me--always meaningful

    Have spent much time in Cornwall--but have only had vegetarian pasty's. They are incredible

    Am probably the first and only person to call the CDC--96 didn't have a computer til the next year--to ask if mad cow could be transmitted through dairy--at the time they knew much less. Thought they would laugh and hang up on me, but loved the question, and got to speak to some of America's biggest experts, then, on mad cow

    Did prove my dad's life long theory that if you go to the top and ask, you will be answered

    Have no idea how I got into this--slept too much last night I think

  11. OH! I LOVE finding new blogs when the first thing I see is a picture of FOOD. Will it absolutely kill everyone if I attempt to make a vegetarian version? ;) (No, really, trust me... it can be done well...!)

    Hi from Michele!

  12. Very interesting post Sage. I have never heard of this before. I am going to have to try it! Thanks!

    Here via Michele.

  13. I had a pasty on June 6, 1997. Being the romantic guy I am, I took my wife to a Mining History Association annual meeting in the Upper Peninsula for our wedding anniversary. On the day we toured the Quincy Mine they served us pasties that were supposed to be "authentic." Well, I can't say I enjoyed the authentic version, but I might like one that was prepared with an inauthentic recipe. . . and with barbeque sauce.

  14. Rampart Bicycle--if you look around the blog, you'll find all kind of recipes! Thanks for visiting.

    Chryslais, thanks for stopping by.

    Ed, for fruit pies, try using lemon juice instead of water in the crust.

    Pia, Veggie Pasties sound great too!

    Nikki, Pia answered your question about veggie pasties, go for it!

    Joe, let us know how they turn out.

    Kevin, I use to be a member of the Mining History Association, but let my membership expire. I never got to one of their conferences, but do have an interest in the field--especially in the intermountain west (Nevada and Utah).

  15. What lovely recipe - I'll try right away!
    Hello, Michele sent me and I add hello from Norway and have a great end to your week:-)

  16. MMMMM I've never had one but they do look good!!

    Here from Michele's this morning - have a wonderful weekend! :)

  17. Ah but have you had a real Cornish Pastie in Cornwall? A real delight!
    Here from Micheles this afternoon.

  18. Your Cornish pastries and your camp dinners sounded delicious. Now if I just had somebody to make them for me. ;)

    By the way, I managed to post some pictures from the Texas Hill Country today. Hopefully, I'll get another post or so in before another week goes by.

  19. Yummy. Never heard of them but might have to try it for a winter meal. I do have to agree though that the trout dinner sounds best.

  20. Hi Everyone, I am a native Republic, Michigan resident who is currently living "below the bridge". My family gets back to God's country twice yearly. This pasty thread is wonderful. Let me add my two cents worth. Carrots in pasties? Run for your lives! Get as far away from them as possible. Carrots don't cook up well in a pasty, and their flavor simply ruins the wonderful taste! Yucko tooey to carrots! Then about gravy,,,,,no self respecting pasty lover would EVER put gravy of any kind on a GOOD pasty! If you go to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in search of a good pasty, please do not buy them around Mackinac City,,,they are not pasties,,believe me. Most of the places around Marquette, Escanaba, Ishpeming, and Iron Mountain, that sell pasties are OK, but you have to make them yourself to experience the try flavor of pasties.

  21. Well, if you ever make some, or go to UP Michigan, please send me some. I wouldn't even mind paying for FedEx Express to eat some.

    Btw, Cornish Pasty is totally different from calzones... of course that's my opinion! Ha :)