English Pasty Recipe

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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  1. do you eat the stuff you make afterwards? I live closeby, you can always invite me over to share if you have any extra :-)

  2. Wow!!! I love me some meat pies, lemme tell ya. It’s pastry, it’s meat – what’s not to love?

  3. thank you for your pasty entry. It’s good to see how English food has settled and become its own thing in the US. The English gravy,for example, is always brown, never white.

    thanks for helping me to prove to the world that English food is not a reason to laugh!

  4. I am so glad you made pasties and not spotted dick. I have enough trouble when my kids lookover my shoulder when I am accessing food porn watch!

  5. LOL, Deborah — last night I was at Cost Plus World Market and noticed they carry Spotted Dick in a can! :-)

  6. I was born in Cornwall. In its pure form the only gravy involved in a pasty comes naturally as the steak steams within the pastry. Also the only fillings in a ‘Cornish’ pasty are steak, potato, turnip, salt and pepper. I’d definately recommend a try of the real thing – preferably eaten somewhere beautiful and by the sea.

  7. I just found this post…and I intend to make the recipe. I always figured anyone who talks about what awful food they have in England (Scotland, Wales, Ireland etc) either have never been there, or were there in the ’40s, during the war.
    I love what British chefs are doing. Oh, you can find some awful over cooked veggies, but not in the better restaurants and pubs.

  8. I grew up in the Upper Peninsula and pasties were a frequent meal, but I never associated it with Finnish roots. There are also many who came from Cornwall, England (including my great great grandfather) and I just thought that’s where it came from. Thanks for the recipe!

  9. This recipe is fantastic! I’ve made these before and your recipe is absolutely straight on. I would add that using beef dripping or diced rendered suet instead of vegetable lard is very delicious- for 4 cups of flour I would use 6 ounces of beef dripping. Looking forward to checking out your other recipes. I, too, am from Michigan and now live in England. Today I am thinking of making calzones using a pasty crust instead of pizza dough- can’t see why it won’t work!

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