Sam over at Becks & Posh is hosting the Fish & Quips event focusing on the celebration of English food. I cannot be considered an expert of English food, except for the fact that I think it’s in my blood. You see, half of my family emigrated from England some 200 years ago and by my calculations I remain about 25% pure English. A family trip 2 years ago took us all back to the small village named Banham where we originated and we visited cousins who remained there. Still, this does not make me experienced nor well-versed in English food.
In researching my entry for Fish & Quips, I was determined to make the funny-named, Spotted Dick, an English pudding creating giggles here in the US. However, I accidentally stumbled upon a food that I am all too familiar with — the pasty, pronounced past-ee *not* paste-y (those are something entirely different and not food blog appropriate!).
A delightful meat and vegetable pie, similar in shape to a calzone, the pasty is well-known in Michigan where my family settled and where I grew up. It’s practically a tourist attraction in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where pasty’s were eaten by copper miners. In Michigan, the pasty is attributed to Finnish settlers, so I was unaware its roots are actually in Cornwall England where tin miners ate the handheld pies while working deep in the mines. And, it’s even noted that sometimes the filling included meat/veggies in one end while a fruit filling in the other, providing a two-course meal.
Not only is the pasty a practical food, easily packed in a lunchbox, but it is filled with savory richness (and is a delight to crack open). I enjoy splitting mine down the middle and drizzling with a light gravy — in Michigan, the pasty is served with either gravy or ketchup depending on where you are in the Upper Peninsula. Ketchup = yuck.
4 cups flour
1 1/4 cup shortening
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons cold water
Cut shortening into flour with salt, then add enough water to form a ball of dough. Cut into 7 pieces.
1 1/2 pounds beef steak cut into 1/4″ pieces (or mixture of beef and pork)
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced rutabagas
2 large potatoes cubed
1 onion diced
1 tablespoon choppped parsley
salt and pepper
Mix filling ingredients until combined. Roll crust pastry into 8″ circles. Add filling to one side of the pastry circle and use a finger to wet the edge of the pastry. Fold pastry over and crimp edges. Cut 3 slits in top of pastry to vent. Place onto a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 1 hour. During cooking, add a few drops of water into each pasty slit.
Serve hot. As I mentioned, Michiganders eat them with either ketchup or gravy. Here’s what I do to make a gravy — fortunately, I always seem to have a cup or leftover filling mixture so I throw it into a pot and brown. I then add a can of chicken stock and boil until tender, strain to remove the chunky bits. Add a tablespoon butter to the broth along with a mixture of 1 tablespoon flour and 2/3 cup milk. Boil until thickened and drizzle over pasty.
So, English food is not a joke — I’ve been eating an English food all of my life, a food that made its voyage to the new world and continued to remain popular.
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