My friends usually give me a grin when I mention traditional British cuisine; to them, Britons either eat Fish&Chips or overcooked spaghetti with ketchup sauce. I have to prove them wrong by coming up with the dishes of the tradition (an excellent source of inspiration is the book by Tom Norrington-Davies “Just Like Mother Used to Make“), such is the case of the Shepperd’s Pie (or better the Cottage pie) as well as the subject of this post, the Cornish Pasty. This delicious national dish of Cornwall, originally made for Cornish tin miners a way of taking their lunch down the mine with them, resembles the Empanadas you eat in many countries of Latin America and the south of Europe.
Although the official pasty has a specific ingredients list, old Cornish cookery books show that pasties were generally made from whatever food was available.
For the pastry you will need:
- 110g (1/2 cup) all purpose flour
- 55g (1/4 cup) salted butter (the original recipe calls for unsalted butter)
- 1-2 Tbsp cold water
Sieve the flour in the bowl of a food processor, add the cubed butter and blitz quickly, until the butter/flour mixture looks like coarse sand (remember the Bakewell tart ?). Add the water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time. As soon as the water is absorbed, the pastry will blend into a ball. Wrap the pastry with cling film and pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes, while you prepare the filling.
For the pasty filling:
- 50g (1/4 cup) onion, finely chopped
- 200g (1 cup) potato, cut into 1/2 cm cubes
- 100g (1/2 cup) bacon, chopped coarsely
- 200g (1 cup) chicken breast, chopped
- salt and pepper
- 1 organic egg, lightly beaten
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, add a pinch of salt (as the bacon will add its own) and generously grind fresh black pepper. Let it stand so that all flavours merge together.
Roll out the pastry into a circle to the size of a tea plate, approximately 18 cm across. Trim off the excess pastry. Repeat for the second Cornish Pasty. Heat the oven to 180’C
Scoop now, half of the filling mixture in the middle of the pastry circle, brush the edges with the egg wash.
Draw the edges of the pastry together and press well to seal the pasty. Brush all over with the egg wash to create a golden brown pasty when cooked. Transfer to a cookie sheet (lined with parchment paper) and cook for 40/45 minutes.
Serve hot with a light salad.