Written by Rebecca Peters-Golden
When I first read the Harry Potter series, it wasn’t the magic that most appealed to me, or even the boarding school setting—it was the feasts.
You know, plates and plates heaped with
tripe, black pudding, cockroach clusters, spotted dick roast chicken, shepherd’s pie, mashed potatoes, and my personal favorite, Cornish pasties.
It’s a favorite meal of Ron Weasley and his family too:
“Oh…okay,” said Ron. “Couldn’t remember all the goblin rebels’ names, so I invented a few. It’s all right,” he said, helping himself to a Cornish pasty, while Mrs. Weasley looked stern, “they’re all called stuff like Bodrod the Bearded and Urg the Unclean; it wasn’t hard.”—Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Cornish pasties (pronounced “pass-tees,” not “pay-stees”) originated in Cornwall, England, in the 12th century.
They made their way to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan when Cornish miners immigrated there to work in the copper and iron mines in the mid-19th century.
Having grown up in the mitten myself, I’ve long appreciated the pasty.
So, when I embarked on the month-long project of cooking one instance of food from a piece of literature each day last January, I decided that the time had come to master my beloved Cornish pasties—and vicariously visit Hogwarts in the process.
The form of the pasty—hearty filling in a thick pie crust—is awesomely practical.
Cornish miners would take one to work each day, eating half of the often two-pound pasty early in the day and saving the other half for later.
For this reason, miners’ wives would impress their husbands’ initials into the end of the pasty’s crust so that they could distinguish their half-pasty from their co-workers’. They reheated them on shovels with candles—badass!
Further, the pasty’s crust served as a kind of handle so that miners could hold and eat their food without having to find a source of clean water to wash their hands.
They would then throw these crusts away, believing that such an offering of food would pacify the ghosts with whom they shared the mines.
Good thing, too, since the miners’ hands would have been coated not only in dirt, but also in arsenic, a poisonous byproduct of the tin mines.
Although my hands might be dirty, since I do not have to worry about giving myself arsenic poisoning, I relish the thick butter crust rather than throwing it away.
Still, the Cornish were really onto something.
I’ve wrapped one of these suckers in foil and put it in my bag at 8:00 am, walked around, taken the bus, and generally been clumsy, and found it in perfect condition when I took it out of my bag to eat at 1:00 pm.
- 1 pound ground beef, preferably ground sirloin
- 1 small onion (about 5 ounces), finely diced
- 5 ounces (about 1 cup) finely diced red potatoes
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup beef broth
- 4 cups (480 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter or shortening, cubed
- 1/2 - 3/4 cup ice water
- 1 egg, beaten
Make the filling:
- In a large bowl, mix the beef, onion, potatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, and broth together until combined. Set aside.
Make the crust:
- In a food processor, pulse the flour and salt together.
- Add the butter and pulse 8-10 times.
- Drizzle 1/2 cup ice water through the feed tube of the mixer while continuing to pulse until the flour is damp and just starting to clump together.
- Transfer the dough to a large bowl and add more water, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, while kneading just until the dough holds together.
Assemble and bake:
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.
- Divide the dough into 8 pieces, each about 110 grams in weight.
- On a floured work surface, roll each piece into an 8-inch round. You can use the bottom of a cake pan or pie plate to assess the size and trace the edge with a paring knife to get a clean shape, if desired.
- Spoon filling just off-center on each round, then fold over to make the pasty's distinctive half-moon shape.
- Use a fork to crimp and seal the edges of the pasty together, then transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
- Repeat with all the dough and filling.
- Cut slits in the top of each pasty so steam can escape, and brush with the beaten egg.
- Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling slightly bubbles through the slits.
- Serve warm—but be mindful of the piping hot filling—or at room temperature.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 806Total Fat: 37gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 145mgSodium: 1126mgCarbohydrates: 86gFiber: 5gSugar: 3gProtein: 31g
The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate.
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