Making these pasties can be very simple! Although slicing the filling can take a while, it’s best done chilling with a pre-dinner drink and music. The quantities here will make one large pasty, although I feel that with the effort involved it is best done for multiple people.
I have included a pastry recipe, but shop-bought pastry will work perfectly well, as the pastry is just there to hold the important filling together. Almost anything from shortcrust to puff will work, and pre-rolled pastry is always easiest. If you are unsure about the amount of pastry you need, especially when buying pre-rolled, think about the size of plate the pasty will fit well on (the plate is about the size of the pastry circle you need). The left-over pastry can either be used for decoration or to make little jam tarts or roll-overs.
You can still make your own pastry without scales. One heaped tablespoon of flour is about an ounce and a standard 250g block of butter is just under 9oz, so for this recipe use a bit less than a quarter. The fillings can be gauged by eye, and the ration of ingredients can be tweaked to suit what you have. For a vegetarian alternative, you could simply leave the meat out.
For the pastry:
- 2oz Solid fat (I am using butter as that is what I have, but anything will work – ideally I would use half lard and half butter for the perfect taste and texture)
- 4oz Plain flour (most flour other than self-raising should work, but might need the water level to be tweaked)
- Pinch of salt
- ~ 2.5 tbsp. Cold water
- Rub the cold fat into the flour and salt, until the mixture looks somewhat like breadcrumbs – ensure there are no more lumps of fat.
- Add the water – it is better to under do it at first – and work the mixture into a firm dough.
- Cover the dough and chill for half an hour to rest. This helps to keep the fat cold, so the pastry does not get overly greasy, and lets the gluten relax.
For the filling:
- ~ 100g Beef (skirt steak is ideal, but any reasonably lean meat should do)
- ~ ¼ of a small swede, peeled
- 2 Small potatoes, ideally waxy new potatoes (these don’t need to be peeled, but perhaps look better peeled)
- ½ a small onion
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Preheat the oven to 200°.
- Cut the meat and veg into little slithers, about 2cm squared and 5mm thick. Mix in a bowl with salt and pepper to taste. A teaspoon or two of water here helps to keep the finished pasty moist, although I feel a large knob of butter or clotted cream works even better.
- If you are not being traditional here, you can use a wide range of veg and other fillings, and tweak the seasoning to fit them. A nice vegan alternative would be onions, carrots, celery, with dried oregano, thyme, a pinch of nutmeg, a glug of olive oil, and salt and pepper (for the pastry either buy ready-made vegan pastry or use coconut oil if making it at home). A nice vegetarian version would be onion, potato, spinach and cheddar, seasoned with salt and pepper.
- Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface, to about the thickness of a pound coin, and cut into a circle. Onto one half of the pastry circle load the filling, leaving a gap at the edge for the crust. Fold over the rest of the pastry and crimp the edges tightly closed. You can spend time making a perfectly regular crimping pattern, but as long as it is tightly sealed enough to stop any juices leaking it does not matter what it looks like. For a golden colour, brush the pastry with either egg or milk wash.
- Bake at 200° for about 40 minutes, turning the heat down to 180° or so once the pastry is a golden brown colour. Once taken out the oven, the pasties are best left to cool for a few minutes, partly because they’ll be very hot in the middle, but also to let the pastry firm up a tad so they stay together.
– Ed Bedford