I am feeling nervous telling you about this. The Cornish pasty is the stuff of legends and I feel that to tell someone how to cook a Cornish pasty you should be both Cornish and have cooked them for years on a regular basis. I fall down on both of those points. Maybe I should call it a Shropshire pasty.
I have just glanced at the Wikipedia entry and that has just increased my nervousness. The entry is very long, it details the cultural history of the pasty and the pasty even has its own trade association. I apologise now to all my Cornish readers if by looking at the instructions below I cause you to reel in horror. No hate mail please.
Anyway, on Saturday night I made fajitas with a bit of thin cut steak and chicken and so on Sunday we found ourselves housebound with a poorly child and a bit of thin cut steak in the fridge. Mr OC was making enough minestrone to feed several armies (part of his take soup to work and save money campaign) and I fancied making a pasty for our tea. The crimping of the first pasty left a lot to be desired but by the third one I had just about cracked it. Not brilliant but good enough to prevent bursting or spillages:
Here is how I made them.
For the shortcrust pastry (enough for 4 pasties and a bit left over to make six jam tarts):
500g (16oz) plain flour
125g (4oz) butter
125g (4oz) vegetable shortening or lard (or you could use all butter)
about 6 -8 tbsp cold water
To make the pastry place the flour and the butter and shortening/lard in a food processor and pulse for a few seconds until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add most of the water and pulse again. Add enough water to bring the dough together. If you don’t have a food processor then place the flour in a bowl, add the diced butter and shortening/lard and using the tips of your fingers rub the fat into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add most of the water and using a palette knife begin to bring the dough together, using your hands at the very end to bring it into a ball. the trick is not to overwork the pastry in either of the ways of making it explained above.
Wrap the dough in clingfilm or a plastic food bag and chill in the fridge for thirty minutes.
To fill the pasty:
About 400g (14oz) steak (not braising or stewing)
1 onion, chopped finely
half a swede (rutabaga), diced small
1-2 potatoes, diced small
4 tsp plain flour
25g (1oz) butter
salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten to use as eggwash
Cut the dough into four pieces and roll out each piece into a circle. I used a plate measuring 22cm to cut my shape out.
In the middle of the circle pile a bit of steak, onion, swede and potato. Sprinkle over a teaspoon of flour, sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper and dot with a quarter of the butter. Brush eggwash around the edge of the circle and bring the two sides together, sealing gently. Then using your thumb and forefinger of both hands pinch and turn the top to make a crimp. Make sure you seal it really well. Place on a baking tray and brush all over with egg wash. Repeat to make three more pasties.
Place in preheated oven at 220°c, gas mark 7 or the roasting oven of an Aga for twenty minutes, then turn the oven down to 180°c, gas mark 4 or move to the baking oven of a four oven Aga for another forty minutes. These can be enjoyed warm from the oven or allowed to cool and eaten for your lunch.
I would also be more generous with the salt and pepper, but they were still good and they were very good with the onion and chilli jam I made to go with them.