A pasty a day – is delish but not a good idea!
A recent trip to Cornwall, despite the copious miles of cliff walks, saw me return 3lbs heavier than I arrived. Not funny.
There was only one answer – the pasties!!!! Oooh I do like a pasty but luckily for the waistline I do not live in Cornwall and they are not the daily treat that most tourists, like us, seem to enjoy.
However, we do offer them on our menus, especially for business lunches – as they go down a treat, albeit presented smaller than those gigantic 1500 calorie Cornish ones. Although at the risk of offending some County Pasty Society or expert who would tell me their proper ones should have a particular cut of meat in them or must have swede or must be made with flaky pastry or crimped at the top– I hedge my bets and simply call our version – Pasties.
So, having tried and tested ‘the real thing’ possibly too often(!) here is the basic idea how we make ours..
First, a secret – we use bought puff pastry. Horror of horrors – bought, not home made– but frankly I am not ashamed to admit it – as I understand that it is a rare chef or even good restaurant that does make their own. Shortcrust and sweet – yes always – but puff is a tad of a chore and the bought stuff is excellent – buy it fresh and ready rolled though, not frozen in a block– as you don’t want to ‘work it’ any more than necessary or else it gets hard and dry.
So, first thing is to cut out the pastry into a circle – use a saucer as a good guide or a larger side plate if you want something a little more substantial a la holiday portion. We use a mug to cut around to make smaller ones when they are a part of a buffet lunch, or a glass rim for our little canapé ones.
Place the pastry rounds on a floured board and pop in the fridge to cool and rest (this stops the pastry shrinking when cooking)
Now, the fillings – personally I love the cheese, onion and potato ones so simply sauté some onions or caramelise them by adding a splash of balsamic vinegar and some muscovado sugar – add to some 1cm cut pieces of boiled potatoes, and add grated cheese, even a spoonful of pickle as well. Mmmm.
Meat lovers will love it when you basically make a dryish, not wet, thick bolognaise sauce with beef skirt or mince with added cooked chopped 1cm potatoes and swede. Or how about a thick pork bolognaise sauce with the ubiquitous chunks of potatoes, some pieces of apple and slices of stilton. How about using lamb mince and add chopped fresh mint. Or vegetarians would love it if you roast slices of red onions, colourful peppers with chopped fresh tomatoes, aubergines and slices of courgettes.
Always season your filling well especially with fresh ground pepper and cool before use.
Remove the circles of pastry from the fridge and moisten the edges with a little water. There are lots of ways of presenting the pasty but the easiest is to place some of the filling on one half of the round pastry and fold the free side over and use a fork to press the pastry sides together.
Brush with some beaten egg and cook for about 45 minutes in a hot oven. Then devour…but note to self…not too many!