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Cornish pasty recipe and remarks

Pasty.. the 'a' as in 'apple' (unless you're from Northern Ireland or South Africa) and don't believe the website which says it's pronounced 'paarsty' - it's a leg-pull!

I was going to post the pasty recipe I use but... a mere recipe is hardly enough. Pasties can be among the trickiest of the culinary arts to get right. Many baker's shops in Cornwall fail in this regard - let alone elsewhere...

Besides, I'm vegetarian and don't really have the experience of making meat pasties. And pasties are a pretty extensive subject... so please forgive me if I cheat a little...

Ann Muller, one of the very best pasty makers in Cornwall, has put her recipes online to share, and she has included enough additional information and hints and tips which can make the difference between a reasonable effort and a 'proper job'. Ann also tells how she got into setting up a pasty shop, and other stuff which makes pleasant and informative reading. Her vegetable and cheese pasty recipes are identical to mine - I use the vegetarian Cookeen option instead of lard, of course.

Ann's recipes:

http://www.annspasties.co.uk/cornish/pasty-recipe/

Other pasty lore:

When the 'mad cow' (BSE) crisis hit, Cornish pasty makers found sales of the traditional beef pasty nose-dived. They responded with new variations: pork pasties, lamb pasties, bacon pasties, turkey and stilton pasties (I'm told these last were delicious) and the vegetarian options expanded, too - apart from the 'traditional' vegatable pasty (see Ann's recipe) cheese and onion pasties became more widespread, and some pasty makers (the 'crunchy alternative' end of the market) even added sweetcorn, green beans and other pulses. Carrots, though, are frowned on...

This last variation reflects a Mexican recipe. Real Del Monte, in Hidalgo County, Mexico, was largely populated by Cornish who mined for silver there in the 19th century. The churchyard bears testimony to this, and still today many of the Spanish speaking inhabitants bear Cornish names, and some of them have pasty shops.... there are half a dozen or more in the town (pasties are 'pastes' in Spanish) and while they produce a traditional beef pasty which would compare well with any from Cornwall, they have also developed a hot, spicy vegetable pasty containing chillies...

I do not believe that pasties are exclusively Cornish in origin. I seem to remember reading that they were made through much of Europe in the Middle Ages (lack of hardware shops selling pie dishes, I suppose) and arguments about whether to chip, slice or dice the vegetables (no spuds, though, in Europe until the late 16th century) and exactly how a pasty should be crimped probably started with the first pasty ever made... and continue still, unabated.

Some will hold that a pasty without beef 'isn't Cornish'. Nonsense! Not everyone in the past could afford beef, and even those who usually could might have had to 'make do'. Fish was more commonly eaten than meat in many places... People were sometimes vegetarian from poverty, rather than choice.

Testimony to this is the alternative name for the pasty, the 'tiddy oggy'(or just 'oggy'). This is heard in the rugby chant "oggy, oggy, oggy!" - what other nation shouts out the name of its national dish at a sports event? "Haggis, haggis, haggis?" "Rarebit, rarebit, rarebit?" "Spaghetti, spaghetti, spaghetti?" We Cornish are a funny lot, sometimes... well, quite a bit of the time, actually...

The first word is dialect for potato, the second derived from the Cornish language ('hogan') and means a pie, pasty or merely baked pastry (if you were really poor!) So strictly the word indicates a vegetable pasty (a pasty without onion - or, failing that, leek - would not be very tasty!)

While pasties for 'crib' or 'croust' (east and west Cornish dialect for a worker's midday meal, or a picnic lunch) are invariably 'manhandled' (grab one end, start eating from the other) a knife and fork is an option if eating at the table.

My mother told me that her father used to eat at least seven pasties a week... sounds a lot, but some of them would have been small 'jam pasties', eaten for dessert. He didn't eat meat, but granny couldn't conceive of making a pasty without it, so I remember watching grandad pick the bits of meat out as he ate...

Incidentally, the ('traditional', beef) Cornish pasty was awarded PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status in 2011.

I hope this inspires you to have a go and see if you can do a 'proper job'! Have fun!
 
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kevgermany

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Love 'em. Have to make them ourselves, only difficulty here is getting swedes. But they're in the shops every now and again. I guess mine are in the good so so category, so I'll take a look at that site...
 

Ivan

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Interesting bit about Cornish miners in Mexico

I once visited a town in South Australia (I think it was Kadina) that had imported Cornish miners in the late 1800's, not for tin or silver but for copper... we arrived in the middle of the town's Cornish festival and enjoyed a decent pasty

http://www.kernewek.org/
 

kernewegor

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Interesting bit about Cornish miners in Mexico

I once visited a town in South Australia (I think it was Kadina) that had imported Cornish miners in the late 1800's, not for tin or silver but for copper... we arrived in the middle of the town's Cornish festival and enjoyed a decent pasty

http://www.kernewek.org/

Yes, the festival is known as Kernewek Lowender (sic) - someone named it who I think just went to a dictionary and didn't realise that the word order in Cornish is the reverse of English and it should have been 'Lowender Kernewek' - which word for word translates as 'enjoyment Cornish', and is one way of saying 'Cornish festival' in Cornish.

It's a very big event (not had money and spare time coinciding, so haven't been) which moves over three days between the three towns which mark the Copper Triangle on the Yorke Peninsula - Moonta, Kadina and Walleroo. It's presitgious, too - one year it was opened by the Bob Hawke, Prime Minister of Australia - of Cornish descent.They bake thousands of pasties (tens of thousands, I seem to remember) so it's a pretty big event! It seems that Oz doesn't have the climate for turnips (or swedes as some call them) so they have had to substitute with another vegetable the name of which escapes me at the moment...

My eldest sister and her mob live in Elizebeth Vale, Adelaide. They have been to the Lowender Kernewek (sic) a few times and say it's great. One of my nieces lives in Gawler, a port on the Yorke Peninsula.

My sister's four daughters had mainly daughters who did the same and I've lost count. I've got some part native Australian great nephews and nieces, the works. I really need to fund a trip out there and organise a family day in the Barossa Valley... there is a Cornish saying, arising from the exodus of miners around the globe, particularly in the 19th century: "If you haven't been to Moonta you haven't travelled." I haven't, then!

The Cornish engine houses there are just like here in Cornwall. The chimneys are round in section. In the Welsh mining areas (coal, gold etc.) I understand that the engine house chimneys are square.

Have any of our Aussie members been to the festival, I wonder? I guess that there must be a deal of music of various sorts...
 

kernewegor

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Love 'em. Have to make them ourselves, only difficulty here is getting swedes. But they're in the shops every now and again. I guess mine are in the good so so category, so I'll take a look at that site...

I heard that they were available in Germany. Whose make are they? Not that bleddy Ginster's trade, is it? Tourist trade and export only, that lot, we won't eat 'em... there are pasty shops in various parts of the globe, these days... our equivalent of the Irish pub! (one of my Flemish ex-girlfriend's sons worked in an Irish pub in Antwerp called the Elephant's Nest... went there... as you do... Guinness, Jameson's, Paddy, Powers, etc. as well as Flemish beer and seven year old jenever...
 

kevgermany

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I heard that they were available in Germany. Whose make are they? Not that bleddy Ginster's trade, is it? Tourist trade and export only, that lot, we won't eat 'em... there are pasty shops in various parts of the globe, these days... our equivalent of the Irish pub! (one of my Flemish ex-girlfriend's sons worked in an Irish pub in Antwerp called the Elephant's Nest... went there... as you do... Guinness, Jameson's, Paddy, Powers, etc. as well as Flemish beer and seven year old jenever...

Never seen the pasties here. Was the swedes I meant. Trouble with calling them turnips is you end up with the little pink/white jobbies that don't taste anywhere near as good. Unless you're in Cornwall, of course. I took a good look at the recipe... Puff pastry... Sliced potatoes. Always thought it was shortcrust and diced spuds, but I'll try it that way next time. Ta for the tips.
 

kernewegor

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Never seen the pasties here. Was the swedes I meant. Trouble with calling them turnips is you end up with the little pink/white jobbies that don't taste anywhere near as good. Unless you're in Cornwall, of course. I took a good look at the recipe... Puff pastry... Sliced potatoes. Always thought it was shortcrust and diced spuds, but I'll try it that way next time. Ta for the tips.

I wouldn't use actual 'puff pastry' - some shops use it and as you bite into it you disappear in a cloud of pastry flakes! And what would be the use of that for what is essentially THE portable meal? Yur pokkut'd be filled with crumbs, boy!

I'm not sure what 'rough puff' pastry is (bake bread, make pasties, chocolate buns for the nipper, that's my limit - not a pastry expert).

But here is what Ann says about pasty pastry:

In Cornwall, there’s no consensus, as to what type of pastry makes the best pasty. Some say short, others that rough puff is better. Both schools agree that the texture has to be firm enough to hold the filling without cracking or splitting. Ann Muller uses the ingredients for short pastry but handles them more like a pate brisee, mixing the fats in lightly, but kneading the dough so it is slightly stretchy. This is an important trick because it makes filling the pasties easier.
 

kernewegor

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Oh, one (!) more point - my ex-wife-to be's family insist that 'chipping' the potato is the best way, that is, not slicing, but hacking very thin bits off in random shapes as you rotate the spud in your hand... too fussy for me - I cut the spud into 'fat chips' and then use a vegetable slicer... which can give random shapes and who is to know...?

The 'slice' or 'chip' schools of thought are based on diced vegetables not cooking as easily. Bake a bit longer...? I've eaten both without complaint...
 
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Ivan

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Was the swedes I meant. Trouble with calling them turnips is you end up with the little pink/white jobbies that don't taste anywhere near as good

This side of the Border of course swedes are 'neeps'

Much loved by humans and sheep alike
 

kernewegor

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This side of the Border of course swedes are 'neeps'

Much loved by humans and sheep alike

I was brought up on 'bashed neeps' (and other things, mind!) - just the right amount of salt and pepper...mmm!

I sometimes eat turnip raw. Beetroot is good raw, too, hard and crunchy, and if grated is a useful side-dish to a salad (if put in with the rest of the salad everything turns red). Powerful anti-cancer stuff, beetroot.

The '-nip' ending of turnip and parsnip is, I believe, cognate with 'neep'.
 
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Pete Thomas

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I always thought that pasties originally had meat and veg in one end, and jam in the other so they'd were a complete meal. You start at the meat end and finish with pudding at the other end.
 

kernewegor

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I always thought that pasties originally had meat and veg in one end, and jam in the other so they'd were a complete meal. You start at the meat end and finish with pudding at the other end.

Yes, I've heard that ever since I was old enough to manhandle an oggy. I'm not sure if it was actually true, at least generally, though no doubt it has been tried. I've never seen one (or eaten one - I do sometimes eat pasties in the dark!) But jam pasties for a sweet course are definitely genuine - I've eaten enough...

A good leg-pull for visitors is to tell how great-grannie had fifteen children and to save time used to make one pasty to be shared by the whole family.

As it was three feet long (or longer, depending on your assessment of the audience's gullibility) she used to put one end in the oven, supporting the other end on a stool. When one end was baked, she'd then turn it around...

Gawd, we do 'ave some fun...
 
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Luluna

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Enjoying this recipe thread immensely!

Cornish pasties are a staple in my Dad's side of the family - as they left Cornwall for the iron and copper mines of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. My grandmother made them with the initials in the crust (ownership) and so they'd fit inside their hardhats to keep their heads warm in the mines (which were typically around 38 degrees Fahrenheit). The Finnish in the "U.P." or Yoopers as they call themselves - argue that THEY invented the Pasty. Pasty stands are a thriving business there, and there is much debate over whether or not rutabaga should be included with the meat and potatoes.


I'm SO HUNGRY FOR A PASTY right now! :thumb:
 

kernewegor

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Thanks, Luluna, extremely interesting. I'll look at the Yooper recipe later today.

Yes, marking pasties for individuals is quite a tradition. Often it is done to enable individuals preferences to be catered for (more or less of salt, pepper, or any other ingredient) or to stop kids fighting over who has which! Sometimes its just initials or name marked a fork or knife, sometimes an initial letter cut out of an extra little piece of pastry and stuck on top.

Rutabga is what in Cornwall we call turnip and over the border they call swede... (originally "Swedish turnip" I think, to distinguish it from other types).

A pasty without turnip would be very unusual in Cornwall, but it is interesting how recipes adapt and change when they travel. I believe that turnips are hard to grow (or maybe just not popular) in Australia and I seem to remember they put something else in as a substitute. I ought to ask my eldest sister in Adelaide...

I'm filing away your information. There is quite a lot of research and compilation of historical and present day records about the Cornish overseas, so I'll pass it on to Garry Tregidga at the Institute of Cornish Studies if that's OK with you? Do you know which year your family left Cornwall?
 

Luluna

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Thanks, Luluna, extremely interesting. I'll look at the Yooper recipe later today.


I'm filing away your information. There is quite a lot of research and compilation of historical and present day records about the Cornish overseas, so I'll pass it on to Garry Tregidga at the Institute of Cornish Studies if that's OK with you? Do you know which year your family left Cornwall?

I will look it up on my ancestry.com account and send you a private message with details.
 

sushidushi

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Go for it. Anne Muller's website is very helpful for recipes.

Margarine? Yuck!

I used to go to a lovely shop in Hitchin, Herts, that made the most delicious Cornish pasties. I believe they added a little bacon to the mixture. They may not have been traditional, but they were the best pasties I have ever eaten.

Now I am in exile in Canada, decent pasties are not available. Nor are edible pork pies. And Scotch eggs are simply unheard of. It is a terrible place... :banghead:
 

kernewegor

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Margarine? Yuck!

I used to go to a lovely shop in Hitchin, Herts, that made the most delicious Cornish pasties. I believe they added a little bacon to the mixture. They may not have been traditional, but they were the best pasties I have ever eaten.

Now I am in exile in Canada, decent pasties are not available. Nor are edible pork pies. And Scotch eggs are simply unheard of. It is a terrible place... :banghead:

Widely used in the pastry. Dunnit meself - I'm not a pastry expert and assumed it helps give a pastry which will hold together without being tough. I don't use the stuff otherwise - do you have a favourite pastry recipe?

Yes, a bacon pasty is a traditional variant, or just a small amount with the beef.
 

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