I ate these for the first time in a small village in Kent called Sandwich. My Uncle Peter and Auntie Ivy had a little shop there. One afternoon, they sent me off with a few pounds in my pocket and some very rudimentary directions to the pastry shop. Being one more familiar with West Coast wood groves, prehistoric ferns, damp rotting wood, roaming black bears, and white water rapids populated by seasonal salmon runs, the thought of going off on my own through a brick and mortar world was frighteningly foreign. There would be strangers at every turn, strangers, who spoke a language though kin to mine, quite different sounding. Most of the time, I understood them, having English parents. Most of the English strangers did not understand my drawl. I found that using my hands helped to pointy talk. When I reached the shop counter, I held up four fingers and shouted FOUR CORNISH PASTIES PLEASE. It’s a funny thing how we seem to think that if we speak loudly enough people will understand us. To which the counter lady replied, DO WOT LUV’? I repeated myself, this time pointing to the glazed triangular pasties in the glass case. I got them, paid, and fled. The grease from the pasties bled through the paper bag. The smell spurred me on. It was truly miraculous that both I and they made it back in one piece. Uncle, Auntie, and I ate the fine warm things that flaked under the tongue while their savory meats and small cubes of veg. fortified the soul. We washed our fare down with cans of Shandy (a mix of beer and lemonade). When the feast ended, I made an empty cardboard-box fort at the back of the shop, crawled into it and took a kip.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/4 cup lard, cubed
1/2 cup water
1 lb. lean Ground Beef
1 Small Onion, chopped finely
2 potatoes, scrubbed and diced small (Yukon Gold is best)
1 tsp Pepper
2 Tbsp. milk
Sift flour and baking powder together into a bowl. Add butter and lard. Cut the fats in with either two forks, or rub it with the flour mix between your fingertips until the mix looks coarse and crumb-like. Stir water in with a fork. If the dough is sticky, add a tad more flour. Roll the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Find a bowl about 5” across, flour the edge, and use this to cut out six circles.
Mix meat, veg, pepper together. Cover half of each pastry circle with the filling. Moisten the pastry’s edges with a little cold water, fold pastry over filling. Press edges together with a fork. Place pasties onto an ungreased baking sheet, brush with milk, and make a small top slit for a steam vent.
Traditionalists insist that the seam MUST run along the top rather than along the side of the Cornish Pasty. If you’re one of them, after you’ve pressed the edges together with a fork, roll the pasty so that the seam is on the top. Make your vent ontop.
Bake at 450F for 10 minutes. Turn down to 350F for a further 25 minutes.
Variations: Add a two chopped radishes. Once cooked, the radish will taste like turnip. Bizarre but true!
Add a little shredded carrot.
I’ve also had these pasties with peas inside. My man’s not a pea man. I adore the sweet green orbs unless they’re canned. Canned peas are an abomination.
Vegetarian Cornish Pasty If you’re a vegetarian, potato is substituted for the meat portion. For the potato portion, substitute rutabaga. We call it Swede. It’s then called a Tiddy Oggy. I love the sound of it! Can’t you just imagine whispering into your beluv’d ears, fancy a Tiggy Oggy? Sounds naughty, doesn’t it! To boost up the flavor, add a pinch of curry.