Pasties (Meat Hand-Pies)

dsc_1113RECIPE #281, DAY #480

FIVE STARS

ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Upper Peninsula Pasties Recipe,” from TasteofHome online*

TIMING: 2 1/2 hours

DIFFICULTY: It takes some skill to work with the dough and fill the pockets

TOOLS: A rolling pin, baking sheet, cooling rack, and some mixing bowls

COOK TYPE: Oven

HEALTH: There are issues here. For one, the crust is completely white flour and shortening. I use a premium flour and non-hydrogenated shortening, but you can’t completely win, there. For two, the filling is a bit of butter and some red meat, with plenty of carb and very little fiber.

On the other hand, you have protein and veggies neatly contained and delivered with deliciousness. With the coleslaw, you aren’t going to walk away a complete loser, especially if you are some sort of Cornish mine worker from the 1800s (because they burn a lot of calories per day, right?).

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EXPERIENCE: I was putting together a Michigan-themed Supper Club dinner, and whenever I think Michigan, I think pasties. But I also wanted to go with a Coney Island theme, so my entree was already taken. Genius!: serve mini pasties with two optional dips and call it an appetizer.

They were the most popular menu item of the night.

Pasties come from Cornwall, England, where poor housewives used to send their men to work with a neatly dough-contained supper in their pocket. When all sorts of Europeans settled in Michigan (I suppose, largely to log), this tradition came with the workers. Then, as Michigan developed into a land with a strong North and South–where the workers worked and the workers hunted and played–the tradition became largely a hunting and camping tradition.

When I was a little girl, my grandmother and several of her many sisters, sisters-in-law, daughters, and nieces would gather together their Irish-English-Welsh-German family each fall and for a whole day we would break into stations and mix, roll, stuff, and bake our way through tray after tray after tray of pasties. Then we would wrap them in foil, portion them into freezer bags, and divvy them up amongst the family. Our family bag would go into our freezer, and when my dad left for “huntin’ camp,” he would take his package and a bottle of ketchup, for sustenance.

Of course, we would also go home that night and eat pasties, because they are really quite good in their own right.

NOTES: You could use some butter instead of all the shortening, but it would make the dough harder to work with. I use a non-hydrogenated, organic shortening.

Mind your potatoes! You don’t want them to go all brown on you while you spend time prepping this or that. Slice those potatoes shortly before rolling out the dough. Russetts are a good choice, here.

We never actually used rutabaga in our pasties, although it is technically traditional. You could omit it, or use other root veggies like turnips, or more carrot and potato. I like the tang of the rutabaga.

***

  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir 2 cups shortening with 2 cups boiling water, until shortening has melted. Slowly add in 2 teaspoons salt and 6 cups all purpose flour until a very soft dough is formed. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour.
  2. In another mixing bowl, combine 5 pounds peeled and thin-sliced potato, 2 pounds thin-sliced rutabaga, 2 pounds thin-sliced carrots, 2 diced onions, 2 pounds ground beef, and 1 pound ground pork. Season liberally with 1 tablespoon salt, 2 teaspoons pepper, and 2 teaspoons garlic powder. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F.
  4. Flour a dry, clean work surface. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Roll 1 portion into a ball in your hands, then out onto the floured surface into a 10-inch circle. Mound 2 cups filling on the round (off to one side) and top with 1 tablespoon unsalted butter. Moisten edges of round with water and fold over to close, in a bulging half-moon shape. Seal first with your finger, then with the sides of the tines of a fork.
  5. Place pastie on a baking sheet and continue with remaining 11 pasties.
  6. Brush pasties with cream and cut slits into the top, for venting. Bake for 1 hour, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. You can wrap in foil then freeze in freezer bags, or serve much sooner.

***

Serve with ketchup, gravy, or coleslaw, or out of hand around the campfire.

*Recipe changed from the original.

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