Old-fashioned Cornish pasties

Apr 20, 2021
Are these authentic Cornish pasties? Source: Getty Images

It’s the dish of Cornwall, England and I have it on good authority that this recipe featuring shortcrust pastry pockets filled with beef and vegetables is about as authentic as it gets. A bold statement, I’m sure, as I know the debate around what makes good a Cornish pasty rages in some parts of the neighbourhood. I cannot claim a close association to Cornwall, but I do enjoy the food.

If you’re not familiar with the Cornish pasty, it’s a turnover-shaped baked shortcrust pastry filled with beef and vegetables. Now, truth be told, there are some very specific stipulations when it comes to the commercial sale of Cornish pasties. These include a requirement that they are made in Cornwall, have set vegetable list, use only beef, are assembled raw (and baked slowly, which is said to have something to do with flavour and texture), and the edges are crimped, which is characteristic of the Cornish style.

To keep this recipe as efficient as possible, I’m going to skip the making of my own shortcrust pastry and use supermarket bought. The result is similar. This is comfort food at its best!

Makes 6

Ingredients

  • 5 sheets frozen shortcrust pastry
  • 450g potatoes, peeled and diced into 1cm cubes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 225g swede, peeled and diced into 1cm cubes
  • 195g onion, chopped
  • 450g beef sirloin, cut into small cubes
  • Unsalted butter (for cutting in slices to lay inside the pasties)
  • Plain flour (for sprinkling inside the pasties)
  • 1 large egg (lightly beaten)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Place a sheet of pastry on a lightly floured surface and cut into an 8-inch circle.
  3. Layer the filling. Place potatoes down the centre of the pastry circle, leaving about 3/4 inch space on the top and bottom edges of the dough. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add a layer of swede, onion and finally the beef, adding a sprinkling of salt and pepper between each. Lay a couple of slices of butter on top of the beef and then sprinkle a small amount of flour over the filling.
  4. Wet the tips of your fingers and lightly moisten the edges of the pastry. Work gently so that the filling doesn’t puncture through the pastry. If a hole appears, patch up with some of the scrap pieces of pastry. Bring the sides up and seal the pastry down the middle.
  5. Turn the pastry on its side and crimp the edges in traditional Cornish fashion.
  6. Assemble the remaining pasties, as outlined above. Use a sharp knife to cut a slit in the centre of each pasty. Lightly brush each pasty with the beaten egg mixture.
  7. Bake the pasties on the middle rack for 40-50 minutes, until golden in colour. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before eating.

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