Sunday, 21 February 2010

Traditional cornish pasties

So there were several days there when I didn't post a recipe, rant or review. Largely because I have been glued to this woman's blog into the wee hours, but also because on Thursday, I hacked the end off my pinkie finger with my brand new Oxo Good Grips  (love them!) peeler. The 'Return' and 'Shift' buttons are ouchie and hard to find with my huge club of a bandaged finger, so I've been more of a web spectator these past few days.
I was making a dozen mini Cornish Pasties, which require a lot of peeling, as they are like 80% root veg and when I reached into the drawer for my shiny new Porsche of a peeler, it attacked me. Long story short- Lots of blood, paper towels, Jesus Band Aids and one latex glove later, I was back in the game with my (sterilized) peeler. The result was roundly appreciated and enthusiastically received by all, including the Cornish friend (Aces!) so I have the recipe here for you.
This recipe is sliiightly different from the traditional, but only in as much as I cook the filling most of the way through before I fill the pasties and bake them because I think that browning the meat adds richness and you can make sure it's lovely and tender before you crimp.

Traditional Cornish Pasties
(makes 12 small or 6 reg)

300g (10 oz) braising steak (I used feather steak)
1 large, floury potato
2 small turnips
1 medium swede (rutabaga)
1 large onion
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp-ish freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp veg oil

For the pastry:
400g (15 oz) COLD* plain (all purpose) flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g (3.5oz) cold butter, cut into 1cm cubes
100g (3.5oz) cold lard (or veg shortening if you must), cut into 1cm cubes
1/2tsp fine sea salt
1 egg
200ml cold* water
1 more egg, beaten

First, make the pastry. *If you have time before, put the flour and water in the fridge, and you don't want to take the lard or butter out of the fridge until you need to use it. The point is to keep the fat from melting at all until you bake the pastry. This keeps it super super flaky and light instead of crunchy and hard. You can either do this in a bowl with a couple of cold butter knives or in a food processor. Either way, try to keep your hands out of the mix, as it will warm up the fat and melt it (which is bad!) I used the food processor this time.
In the food processor bowl, tip in all the flour, the salt baking powder, the butter and the lard.
Pulse several times for 15-20 seconds to cut the fat into the flour until you have mixture about the texture of fresh breadcrumbs. Tip this lot into a chilled bowl.
Beat your egg and water together, pour about half of it into the mix and stir with a knife. Add more of the water mixture as needed until you can just about bring the pastry together into a ball without it totally crumbling. DON'T over mix as it will toughen the flour, and use as little water as you can get away with. This again will give you a very light, flaky 'short' pastry. (by the way, I ALWAYS type 'pastry' wrong. I always have to go back and fix it.)
Wrap your ball of pastry (I did it again!) in cling film and pop it in the fridge for at least half an hour, or however long it takes you to make your filling.

Dice the steak into 1cm (1/2") cubes, then peel and dice all of the other veg the same size.
In a large, deep-sided pan, heat the oil over a high heat and add the pieces of steak. You want to brown the steak in one thin layer, rather than stew it, so you might want to do this in a couple of batches. When the steak is browned all over, remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and bring in the onions. Sautee the onions for a few minutes until beginning to go golden, then bring the swede, turnip, potato, salt, pepper and thyme. Stir to combine and cook for a few minutes, turning from time to time to ensure even cooking. Sprinkle over the flour, stir through and then add about 200ml water to the pot. Lower the temperature and cover for 5 minutes or so, until there is no liquid left and the root veg are almost tender but still intact. Add the steak back to the pot, stir through, taste to check for seasoning and turn the heat off.
Turn your oven on to 180C/375F
To assemble, weigh your pastry -should be about 732g (26oz)- and divide by 12, or 6, depending on the size of your intended finished pasty, in my case, each piece of dough weighed 62 grams.
Rather than rolling out your pastry on a floured surface, roll out your little balls ;-) between two layers of cling film. This doesn't introduce more flour to your pastry and make the dough tougher. You want to roll it out to as close to a perfect round as you can, then spoon the filling mixture into the centre of the pastry, I used an ice cream scoop to keep it even. Then brush one half of the perimeter with the beaten egg, then bring the edges up together like a purse. Pinch together to seal and then fold and twist around the edge to make sure the filling doesn't burst out while baking. Here's a handy video if you want to see it done by someone far more adept than me. Don't worry too much about how pretty the edge is, as long as you have a good seal on it, they'll be fine and will look better after they're baked.
Lay them out as you go on a baking sheet and brush with the egg mixture. Prick the top with the pint of a knife to allow steam to escape and bake for 35-40 minutes for small ones, or a little longer for larger ones. When lovely and golden, remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before moving from the baking sheet. Serve hot with brown sauce, Branston pickle, ketchup etc. Still super tasty at room temperature and they freeze well, so if you make 12 but don't have 12 people to serve them to, let them cool, freeze on the baking sheet, then when frozen, move them to an air-tight container.
Cornish Pasties on FoodistaCornish Pasties

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