Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The Great Pasty Adventure

On Bank Holiday Monday, making Mini Egg Tiffin wasn't enough. No, I decided that I HAD to make Pasties. I got the idea in my head when browsing through Nigel Slater's Tender looking for something to do with swede. And when I get one of my schemes in my head, there is very little that will prevent me from following through with it.

The recipe makes 6 pasties, which I thought would be fine, imagining them to be small pasties – my fiancé and I could have a couple each for dinner and then one each for lunch the next day. Perfect!

This pastry required me, for the first time in my life, to buy some lard. I have never bought lard before, mostly because my reaction to it is, "Ewwwww, lard!". Anyway, I bit the bullet and purchased the lard and some more butter, which was also required.

I duly froze the butter and lard for a good hour before use and then came the grating. I had to grate the frozen butter and lard into the flour. Dear God, it was hard work. And while this was going on I was boiling the chopped potatoes and swede and frying the onions and beef for the filling. I am not usually very good at co-ordinating lots of things at the same time when cooking (contrary to the popular belief that women are fantastic at multi-tasking), but I (mostly) stayed in control of the situation.

As an aside, I ended up buying beef shin instead of beef skirt – because that's what happens when you decide to cook something at the last minute on bank holiday Monday and you have to purchase your meat from the supermarket – and it worked perfectly well. I was worried about it being too tough at the end of cooking, but it was lovely and tender.

Assembling the pasties was quite fiddly and I wasn't very neat at all with it. My work surface in my kitchen is so small, that I didn't have room to roll out all six balls of pastry at once, so I had to work in batches. I also wasn't able to use a round plate to guide me because all the plates we own are square. Once all the pasties were made and I put them on the oven trays ready for baking, I realised the enormity of what I'd done.

Yeah, I made six of those. There are only two of us in my household. Overcatering, much?

I was tired by the time it came to brush them with egg, so the browning ended up quite uneven. But they still tasted good, if lacking a little in pepper (when you only have a small pepper mill, there is only so much grinding you can do...). I served one each with chips.

We donated two to family and then had one each for lunch the next day. They were even tasty cold and I was quite impressed by how well they stayed together!

According to Nigel Slater they're not proper Cornish Pasties because in this recipe the filling is cooked first, whereas in a traditional Cornish Pasty the filling should be placed in the pastry raw and then the whole thing cooked.

Not bad for a first attempt though, eh?


  1. Fabulous idea. I've never worked with lard and am afraid of it. I have heard that grating is the best way to incorporate fat. Looks like it all worked out. Also, I laughed when I read that all your plates are square.

  2. Also, I had to look up "swede," and so learned a bit about our friend the rutabaga (as I know it in the States), also called the "Swedish turnip," or "swede" for short. We get the word "rutabaga" from Swedish, so that seems to be where all the interesting name changes came from. Lovely.

  3. Love the pasties, they look tasty! I do use lard sometimes to do roast potatoes if feeling particularly naughty! Will definitely give this a go, they would be perfect for a summer picnic.

  4. Looks delish! :) Now I want to make some!

  5. I love the look of your blog now (did I say that last time I visited?)Your pasty & chips photo looks so tasty. I've tried to make them in the past with similar difficulties but I do have a very good pepper mill - put it on your list!

  6. Jen, I didn't know swede was called something different in the US! Really interesting stuff, thanks for telling me.

    Louise, make sure you have a good few hours set aside! It took me two hours to prepare them and then they need to cook for an hour.

    And thanks jenisnape and Janice! Trust me, a good peppermill is already on my list!

  7. This looks very nice Charlene, well done on your first attempt, looks like all the effort paid off! :)