Pasties (Say Pass-Tees)

The Pasty Oven
The Pasty Oven’s whimsical sign, one of many lining US Rt. 2 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (image property of The Pasty Oven)

If you’ve ever traveled to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, you have been to pasty country. Traditionally made in a lard crust with meat, potatoes, onions, carrots, and rutabagas (the big yellow turnips sometimes called “swedes” or “beggies”), pasties were brought to Michigan by Cornish immigrants who came to work the mines. In the morning the miner’s wife could wrap up a steaming hot pasty; it was easy to carry in a coat pocket. The pasty could later be retrieved and eaten, often still hot in its crust, as a convenient and hearty out-of-hand meal.

There are as many recipes for pasties as there are for apple pie. If I am going to indulge in all that crust, I eschew the modern pizza and chicken versions for the real thing. These days I am eating less and less meat, but this recipe is for a traditional pasty with beef and root vegetables. For a vegetarian version, the meat can be omitted — add a little more butter for moisture but please, don’t skip the beggies!

You may use your favorite pie crust recipe, but do try the wonderful version below. Perfected by a talented Michigander, it is easy to handle and still turns out flaky.

Vegetables may be used in whatever proportion is desired. I prefer lots of carrots and rutabaga and fewer potatoes.

For a true UP experience, mail-order some Tovio and Eino’s Pasty Sauce, a special catsup-like sauce with a kick.

More about pasties here and here.

Pasties
enough for one hungry miner, or two to three regular folks
(3 pasties)
with special thanks to gkc

All measures are approximate.

For the crust:

2 – 2 1/2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 c shortening (crisco or canola oil — butter is not recommended)
3-4 TB milk, just enough to bind

For the filling:

1/2 – 1 lb best quality lean, tender sirloin, amount according to taste
1 medium rutabaga
1 medium onion
2-3 large carrots
1-2 large waxy potatoes such as red or new potatoes
(for vegetarian version, increase amount of vegetables as required)

salt and freshly-ground pepper
butter

Eggwash for baking:

1 whole egg or egg white mixed with 2-3 TB water

~~~

In a large bowl, mix flour and salt. Work in the shortening with fingertips until mixture resembles crumbs. Add milk, 1 TB at a time, until the dough is moist enough to form into a ball. Cover the ball of dough to prevent drying, and let it rest while you prepare the filling.

dough for the crusts
dough for pasty crusts — batch on top right is made with oil, the others with vegetable shortening

Cut the sirloin into small cubes, about 1/4 inch square. Peel the vegetables and cut into uniform cubes, also about 1/4 inch. Toss all filling ingredients together in a large bowl with salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste.

pasty filling
pasty filling

In a small bowl, mix the egg or egg white with water and set aside.

To assemble:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

The crust can be rolled thick or thin, but we don’t want paper thin. The crust must hold all the filling without tearing.

Divide dough ball in half. Roll out one half into a large circle of desired thickness. Invert a 9-inch plate over the center and cut around with a sharp knife or pizza cutter to make a neat circle. Carefully roll up the circle of crust and set it aside. Reserve dough scraps. Roll out the other half, cut and roll up in the same fashion. Set that crust aside as well. Combine the scraps to make one more circle of crust.

On a large ungreased baking sheet, unroll the first circle. Mound approx.
1 1/2 cups of filling about one inch from the right edge. Add a pat of butter on top of the filling. Brush the right side of the circle with a little plain water. Carefully fold the left side of the circle over the top of the filling, bringing the edge down to meet the right side. Tuck in any loose filling with your fingers. Starting at the bottom of the half-circle, roll up the edges of the crust and crimp to seal. Repeat with the remaining two crusts.

assembling pasties
assembling pasties

Brush the tops and sides of the pasties with eggwash. Prick several times with a fork, or cut slits with a knife to release steam.

Bake about one hour *** (note corrected baking time), until crusts are browned and steam rises. If you are unsure, run a knife into the crust — if the vegetables feel tender, the pasties are done.

pasties cooling
pasties fresh from the oven!

Carefully remove to wire rack to cool. Pasties may be served hot or room temperature, with knife and fork, or out of hand. Some folks even like to eat them cold. If you spend an afternoon making lots of pasties, they may be refrigerated or frozen for reheating later.

pasty supper
pasty supper on a snowy autumn afternoon, complete with sauce, pickles, and birdfeeder for entertainment

This (vegetarian version — thanks Asha!) is my completely unconventional entry for Special Edition Jihva — Diwali Treats, hosted by Vee of Past, Present, and Me. I hope she will accept my entry. Of course this is not tradtional Diwali, or even Indian food, but it does represent a new autumn tradition for me — one I intend to keep and cherish. And from what I read, Diwali is all about tradition πŸ™‚

Wishing everyone a happy holiday celebration — whatever and wherever it may be.

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18 Comments »

  1. Arjuna said

    Happy holidays to you too Linda! I heard about these pasties on one of the TV shows(I don’t rememberr which one), and now I have a recipe too πŸ™‚

    Thank you Arjuna – hope things calm down for you soon πŸ™‚

  2. Asha said

    Divine looking pasties, Linda! Looks like hard work, though!! Well! may be not if I organize!! I will try! UP is Upper Peninsula!! I read as Uttar Pradesh in India!!:D:D I was thinking ‘What?! UP has Pasties?!” :))
    Never been to Michigan cities , just passed through while travelling!!
    Diwali is usually Vegetarian,beef ( Sacred Cow ) is a NO NO for Hindus but she probably will put it in there anyway!!:))
    Thanks M’am for a beautiful snack! I am Baaaad Hindu,btw!!:D

    Thanks for reminding me Asha — I’ve amended my “unconventional” entry to specify vegetarian version! πŸ™‚

  3. Nabeela said

    Linda, the pasties look gooood with meat and all…..perfect for after an autumn walk!

    Thanks, Nabeela!

  4. Vee said

    well, well, well …Pasties!!!
    and a veggie one to please the masses, too.

    Oooooooooooooooohhhhh, I love stretching the boundries of tradition. This goes in the round up with or without the veggies πŸ˜‰

    Thank You for participating!!!!!

    Thank you for hosting, Vee, and for stretching the boundaries πŸ˜‰ Look forward to your round up!

  5. shilpa said

    That looks lovely….Never tried anything like that. I want to try the veggie version though…..Thanks for the recipe

    Hi Shilpa, and thank you. If you try, I hope you enjoy!

  6. mm said

    Those pasties look so good…..very nice pictures! Thank you for posting the recipe. Will give it a try as it looks easy enough to make.

    Hi mm, glad you liked. Please do give them a try sometime πŸ™‚

  7. Asha said

    You ar welcome.Linda! ‘Veg Pasties’ are ‘good to go’ as they say in Taco Bell ad!!:)) Welcome to Diwali feast!!
    I came back to ask; which crust do you prefer to use, oil or butter dough? Also which one is used for ‘real cornish pasites’ as in Cornwall,UK, if you know! My guess is oil, for a coal miner’s wife, butter would have been expensive!!
    I am ready for non-veg pasties after Diwali!:D Thanks in advance!!

    Hi again, Asha — I’m pretty sure the original fat for pasty crust was lard (big no-no for vegetarians *and* me! πŸ™‚ ). My personal preference would be a vegetable shortening such as Crisco, but if you’re worried about hydrogenated fat, by all means use liquid vegetable oil. BTW, my daughter has been pestering me for Taco Bell! πŸ˜‰

    **** late note — Asha — I am informed by those in the know that *suet* was an original fat used in pasties. Yep, I’m sticking to Crisco!

  8. the pasties r fresh and hot and waiting for someone to bite it!!!!linda , as always u have done some hard work ..thanks for the recipe..

    Thank you, Maneka! A little work yes, but fun too πŸ˜‰

  9. mandira said

    they look so similar to gujiya which is made during the diwali season… except the fillinf is khoya, coconut and sugar. looks delicious. Happy diwali to you too. πŸ™‚

    Thank you, Mandira… gujiya sounds really yummy πŸ™‚

  10. shaheen said

    Nice combination.. Will try it and let u know.

    Thanks, Shaheen πŸ™‚

  11. Indira said

    I have never been to UP before Linda, the far I went was Detroit, that’s it.:)
    Looks like a lovely place with lot of good food traditions.

    Michael Moore, the filmmaker talks about Michigan a lot. Is this where he is from? I am just curious.

    Hi Indira, I can’t tell you about Michael Moore — quite frankly I have never paid too much attention to him. I was born in Detriot, however, and can tell you most definitively that most of Michigan, esp UP, is a lovely place to visit. Do go if you ever have the opportunity — I think you would love Lake Superior — very remote and wild soul-food sort of place πŸ™‚

  12. pelicano said

    linda-
    your pasties are quite lovely…i’m in GB, wisconsin so, of course i might have tried one or two of these πŸ™‚ i never attempted making them ,but i’ll definitely try your recipe next time i get that urge…they are rather expensive to buy ready-made!

    Hi Pelicano, and thanks for the kind words. GB is on my list of places to visit. I spend a fair amount of time in MI, but want to get up there to GB and Door County, etc someday. Lovely area! If you try the pasties, I hope you enjoy πŸ™‚

  13. well the reciep is good for making the pies, but i would like to make them without using eggs, cause i am pure vegitarian, and belong to the hare krsna iskon, and i am initiated, so can u mail me and let me know how to make the pastry dough without using eggs, and any other good baking recipes regads bharti

  14. kiki said

    mmmmmmm good

  15. Darren said

    Whoa there !!!!!

    Michigan is Pasty country ?? Err.. sorry, but I think you’ll find ‘Pasty Country’ is Cornwall in England.

    They were for Tim miners (sorry – no coal in Cornwall !), and traditionally had savoury meat at one end, followed by sweet meat at the other – A complete meal in an edible package !

    Incidentally, the crust was used as the handle and thrown away (as a treat for mine-dwelling Cornish Knockers, or Piskies) as the miners hands would have been covered in arsenic.

    I must say though, the finished pasties look damned good !

  16. Darren said

    OK – that should have been TIN mining, not Tim….

    Dear Darren,

    I’m sure we all make mistakes — I know the UK is the REAL pasty HQ — but the UP of Michigan is pretty close second! No doubt due to the many immigrants.

    Thanks for your comments!

    Best wishes,
    Linda
    (from Massachusetts)

  17. Donna -De Pere Wisconsin said

    I have been eating pasties for a 70+ years however my mother, grandmother made them without the turnips or rutabagas, using round steak potatoes & onion plus salt/pepper. They also made them in a pie pan using a double crust, much easier than the conventional way. Once cut & served we put a big scoop of butter under the crust and let it melt before eating. Hmm good!

    However they are made, the combination of crust & vegetables make for a very savory meal.

  18. […] Pasties I could freeze for lunches.  So once again I went to Google.  This time I found a basic flour, oil and milk recipe.   I changed it up a bit by changing putting 1/2 cup wheat flour in […]

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