The original pasty was almost certainly the Cornish pasty, a creation devised for tin miners in Cornwall in the extreme south-west of England to take down the mines with them to form a substantial lunch. The pasties were generally filled with cheap cuts of beef as well as a selection of root vegetables, though sometimes half the pasty would be savory and half of it sweet. The thick semi-circular crust which bordered most of the pasty was designed for the miners to hold with their dirty hands to prevent them contaminating the part of the pasty designed for eating. The crust would then be discarded when the main body of the pasty had been eaten. Over the years, pasty fillings have developed and now pretty much anything can be found in pasties and this is just one tasty idea you may wish to consider.
Spicy ground beef pasty half is served with mixed bean salad and potato wedges
Ingredients (Serves 2)
- 2 medium to large baking potatoes, cut in to wedges
- ½ pound ground (minced) beef steak
- ½ small red onion, peeled and finely diced
- 1 small red chili, seeded and finely diced
- 1 large garlic clove, peeled and grated
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- Black pepper
- 2 teaspoons freshly chopped cilantro (coriander leaf), plus a little extra to garnish
- ½ pound premade puff pastry
- Flour for rolling out pastry
- Beaten egg for glazing
- Oil for greasing baking tray
- 14 ounce can mixed bean salad
The potato wedges in this particular recipe were prepared in three different stages. The first step is to put them in to a pot or bowl of cold water as soon as they are cut and leave them to steep for ten minutes. Drain them well, put them in a pot of fresh cold water, season with some salt and put the pot on a high heat until the water begins to simmer. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer fairly gently for five minutes. Drain through a colander at your sink and allow to steam off for five minutes. Lay them in a single layer in a large dish and refrigerate for a minimum half hour.
The next step is to deep fry the wedges for three or four minutes in medium hot oil. Drain on kitchen paper, allow to cool for about ten minutes, then return to the fridge for a further minimum half hour.
Put the ground beef in to a large mixing bowl. Add the prepared onion, chili and cilantro. Grate in the peeled garlic clove and season with the turmeric, salt and pepper. A wooden spoon could be used to combine all the ingredients but you will find using your hands makes the job not only easier but quicker.
Lightly flour a clean, dry working surface and roll out the pastry to a square large enough that you can use a thirteen inch diameter dinner plate as a template to cut from it a circle. Use the blunt edge of a dinner knife or even the handle of a tablespoon to cut the pastry, so as not to scratch your surface.
The beef filling should be arranged on one half of the circle, leaving a border of just over an inch at the edge. Take your time to shape the filling, making it a little bit thicker towards the middle than nearer the edges. Use a pastry brush to glaze the border with a little bit of the beaten egg.
Fold the empty half of the pastry over the filling, ensuring it covers the meat smoothly but be careful not to pull it too tight or it may tear. Use your fingers to carefully crimp and seal the border.
Leave the pasty where it is for the pastry to rest while you bring your oven up to a heat of 400F/200C/Gas mark 6. When the oven is ready, lightly oil a baking sheet and lift the pasty on to it with a large spatula. Glaze all over with more beaten egg, paying particular attention to the crimped folds. Cut a steam vent in the middle of the pasty and put the baking sheet in the oven for thirty to thirty-five minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden.
When the pasty comes out of the oven it needs to be rested and this is best done on a wire rack. Give it ten minutes while you give the wedges their final deep fry and prepare the bean salad. You can then lift it to a chopping board for halving.
Deep fry the potato wedges for a second time at a fairly high heat for three or four minutes until beautifully crisp and golden. Lift them to a plate covered with kitchen paper to drain.
The bean salad in this case was canned and included black eyed peas, green beans, cannellini beans, borlotti beans and haricot beans, as well as corn kernels and little bits of pepper. Pour the contents of the can in to a small saucepan just before you remove the wedges from your deep fryer and bring to a simmer for a minute or two, just to heat through. Drain through a colander at your sink.
Place one half of the pasty on each of two serving plates. Arrange the wedges and half the beans on each plate in an attractive fashion before garnishing with the last of the cilantro.