My father's ancestors on HIS father's side hail from Cornwall in England. They were miners who came to this country in the 1800's. My great-grandfather settled in a tiny little mining camp in the Colorado mountains called Silver Plume, not too far from Georgetown. I was told the name came from the way the silver ore formed "plumes" or feather-like deposits in the rock.
Cornish pasties (not to be confused with the nipple coverings worn by exotic dancers) are meat pies, and have been around, in one form or another, for centuries. They were popular with miners because they were a complete meal, didn't require utensils to eat, easily carried piping hot to work in the morning, and still warm and toasty by lunch time.
Traditional pasty recipes used a filling of uncooked beef, turnips, potatoes and onions. The filling was heaped on a thick pastry circle, folded over, and then crimped along one edge to seal everything inside. The crimped side made an ideal hand-hold that could be discarded if the miner's hands were dirty, or had been in contact with toxic compounds.
My great-uncle Stanley, whenever he came to visit us from California, would take over my mother's kitchen (and sanity) and spend one entire day preparing and baking Cornish pasties. He would make a dozen or more, and what wasn't eaten then and there, were frozen for later consumption. I loved them, and would eat them the way my ancestors ate them, with my bare, but clean, hands. Mother insisted on clean hands for every meal.
I have my uncle's recipe (his version includes pork, as well as beef). I tried it once, years and years ago, and of course the result wasn't anything like I remembered. The filling was easy, it was the pastry part that was hard; I just don't "get" pie crusts, or baking in general, and I don't expect I ever will. Also, it took all day, and made a humongous mess.
So, to get my occasional pasty fix, I adapted the recipe into a much easier pie form, using store-bought pie crusts, and omitting the beef and the turnips. It lacks the thick, meaty, rustic texture of the real thing, but I'm just not THAT devoted of a cook.
THE LAZY COOK'S CORNISH "PASTIES"
Makes two deep-dish pies.
2 lbs ground pork
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 - 32 oz bag frozen Southern Style potatoes
1 - 12 oz bag frozen crinkle cut carrots, partially cooked according to package directions*
1 C water
3 TB flour
2 pkgs ready made pie crusts (4 pie crusts)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large skillet, cook and crumble pork with onion, thyme and salt until no pink remains. Drain the meat, reserving the drippings. Place the meat in a bowl, and return drippings to the skillet.
Add the potatoes and carrots to the drippings in the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally until potatoes are cooked through and a light golden color. While potatoes cook, whisk water with flour and stir into meat. (You can eliminate the water/flour step, but this helps to hold the filling a bit so it doesn't fall out when serving.)
When potatoes are done, add the meat back into the skillet and stir until everything is thoroughly mixed. Allow mixture to cool just a bit.
Bring the pie crusts to room temperature. Unroll one crust into bottom of ungreased deep-dish pie plate. Place half of meat/potato mixture on top, and then cover with a second pie crust. Trim the crusts along the plate edge with a knife or kitchen shears. Pinch the edges together into a decorative scallop, or simply press down with the tines of a fork. Make the second pie with remaining crusts and filling.
Whisk your egg with a bit of water, and brush the egg wash lightly over the tops. Perforate the tops with three or four steam vents.
Bake immediately until the tops are a golden brown. You may wish to cover the edges of the pies with foil so they don't get burned. Allow pies to sit for a few minutes before slicing.
*You may cook the carrots all the way through, according to package directions. I prefer my carrots to have a little crunch, and so I only partially cook them.
'Ave a 'appy nosh,
Top left: http://www.yourhomebasedmom.com/cornish-pasty-meat-potato-pie/
"I am not
a glutton; I am an explorer of food." How I miss Erma Bombeck!