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Traditional Cornish Pasties

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May 31, 2014 / English / By
Nicola

Cornwall is an English county on the South coast, which makes up the most South Western part of the country. The county is known for having the best weather in the country, as well as its rural landscape, the locals' distinctive accent, and its traditional Cornish pasties.

The traditional Cornish pasty dates as far back as the 1300s, when there are records of it first being identified. However, it most famously became popular during the 18th Century as the working man's lunch. The shape and structure of a Cornish pasty mean that it holds its shape very well, even long after being cooked. This meant that men could carry a pasty with them throughout the day, without the fear of it getting broken. Furthermore, the contents are rich, hearty and full of flavour, so they could keep a hard wearing 18th Century Cornish man going for hours.

Traditionally, Cornish pasties are filled with at least 12.5% minced or diced meat, as well as potatoes, swede and onion. Usually, they are seasoned, giving them a slightly peppery taste. To be classed as a Cornish pasty, aside from being made in Cornwall, it should be made in a 'D' shape, with the long, curved edge being crimped.

Nowadays, Cornish pasties have become a bit of a national favourite, rather than being limited just to the South West. They're sold in pretty much every decent bakery, and everyone has put their own twist on the classic to make them unique. Of course, nothing is ever quite as good as the original, but here's a recipe for making Cornish pasties at home, anywhere in the world!

For the pastry:

500g strong plain flour

125g lard

25g softened butter (or margerine)

1 tsp salt

175ml cold water

1 beaten egg

For the filling:

350g beef (a good quality cut such as a beef skirt will be tastiest)

3 large potatoes

175g swede

1 onion

knob of butter

1 tbsp black pepper

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200°C, or Gas Mark 6.

For the pastry, put the flour in a large bowl, then mix in the lard, butter and salt. Next, pour in just enough water to turn the mixture into a dough. You will need to work it with your hands; it may be heavy going as it will be a thick, tight dough rather than a sticky one. Knead the dough for several minutes until it becomes smooth, then wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge to chill for about an hour.

To make the filling, dice the beef and the vegetables into cubes of similar sizes. Combine them and season them well with the pepper.

Once the dough is ready, divide it into four equal portions, and roll each one out into a circular shape, roughly the same size as a dinner plate. Spoon some of the meat mixture onto each one, being sure to cover only half the pastry. Don't forget to leave a rim of pastry around the edge of the meat, as you will need to crimp it shut later.

Place a small knob of butter on the top of the meat, then fold over the other half of the circle of pastry to cover the meat. The pasty should now be in a filled 'D' shape. Seal the curved edge shut by carefully crimping the two layers together, then brush the beaten egg over the top of the pastry.

Transfer the pasties to a baking tray and bake them in the centre of the oven. After 20 minutes, reduce the heat of the oven to 180°C (Gas Mark 4), then bake for another half an hour, or until golden.

You won't be able to eat them immediately, but they are best enjoyed while still warm. This is a recipe for Cornish pasties with a traditional filling, but you can fill them with whatever you have in the fridge - they are great for using up leftovers. You can make them into whatever you want them to be! You may not live in Cornwall, but there's no reason why you can't still enjoy this traditional Cornish fare.

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Province/State: Cornwall

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