The Pasty originated in the tin mining industry of Cornwall, England. Cornish tin miners had to work deep underground in cold, wet, clammy surroundings and a hearty meal that provided plenty of energy was necessary for a long shift.
The Cornish Pasty was not only specifically designed to nourish cold hungry tin miners, it was also designed with safety in mind. Where there is tin ore, there is always naturally occurring arsenic. Arsenic poisoning can occur just by eating food with dirty hands in a tin mine. This is why a Cornish Pasty has a thick crust handle. The handle can be grasped with dirty hands, then the clean portion of the Pasty could be eaten safely.
The crust handle on a Cornish pasty actually was never wasted. The crust handle was always thrown to the ground in the tin mine to appease the "Knockers." Knockers are nasty little evil demons that cause mining disasters. One simply has to keep the Knockers happy to avoid disaster!
Food for tin miners had to be durable, as well as filling and nutritious. Sealing ingredients in a pie crust helped to preserve the filling for an extended time. This also means that a modern Cornish Pasty can be made well ahead of time and the filling will still be appealing.
The original Cornish Pasty filling was a combination of green pork meat (dry cure), salt pork, suet, marjoram, potatoes and swedes (rutabaga). The high amount of lipids and carbohydrates provided plenty of energy to keep a miner warm in a cold clammy tin mine. Modern Pasties usually do not contain as much fat and the amount of carbohydrates varies with the type of filling. Even so, a modern Pasty should have just enough fat and carbohydrates in the filling to provide a warming effect on a chilly day, so the heritage of this unique food item is preserved.
Wherever the Cornish miners went to mine tin around the world, the Pasty became a local tradition. Some Mexican Empanadas were originally created by Cornish tin miners with local Mexican ingredients. The difference is that Spanish style Empanadas usually do not have a crust handle, while a Cornish style Empanada does. The same goes for Pasty's made by Cornish tin miners in Montana. A local Turnover Pastry has no handle, while a Montana Pasty does.
If you prefer a proper Cornish Pasty Crust Dough is preferred, then substitute lard for the unsalted butter in the pie dough recipe. Keep the chilled lard pieces to the size of a pea or less. Larger pieces of lard would turn the dough into a very flaky Irish Pastry Dough and the Cornish Pasty would then become fragile. The crust on a Cornish pasty is supposed to be durable!
Follow the link tothe Pâte Brisée recipe in this website.
Garden Vegetable Filling:
This recipe yields enough filling for 1 large Cornish Pasty.
Step 1: Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
Add 1/4 cup of diced potato.
Add 1/4 cup of diced rutabaga.
Add 1/4 cup of chopped cabbage.
Add 1/4 cup of chopped peeled aubergine. (eggplant)
Add 3 tablespoons of diced carrot.
Add 3 tablespoons of diced celery.
Add 2 tablespoons of chopped onion.
Add 2 chopped small button cave mushrooms.
Briefly sauté the vegetables till they become aromatic. (Try not brown the vegetables at all!)
Step 2: Add 1 1/3 cups of water.
Add 2 pinches of marjoram.
Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
Step 3: Reduce the temperature to low heat.
Gently simmer and reduce till the liquid is almost completely evaporated and the vegetables are tender.
Step 4: Remove the pan from the heat.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of chopped Italian Parsley.
Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of plain fine breadcrumbs while stirring.
Stir till the bread crumbs have absorbed the last bit of liquid in the pan.
Step 5: Place the vegetable filling in a container.
Chill the pasty filling to 41ºF in a refrigerator.
Dill Crème Fraîche:
This recipe yields 1 condiment portion. (about 2 ounces)
Step 1: Place 2 tablespoon of sour cream in a small mixing bowl.
Add 2 tablespoon of cream.
Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
Add 2 pinches of dill weed.
Mix the ingredients together.
Step 2: Place the Dill Crème Fraîche in a ramekin.
Chill till it is needed.
Garden Vegetable Cornish Pasty:
This recipe yields 1 large Cornish Pasty.
Step 1: Roll out a sheet of pâte brisée that is about 3/16" thick.
Cut a 10 1/2" diameter round sheet.
Step 2: Mound the chilled vegetable filling on the center of the round pâte brisée sheet. Leave about a 1" bare border on the edge of the dough sheet.
Step 3: Brush the bare border of the dough with egg wash.
Fold the pastry dough over the stuffing, so it forms a half moon shape.
Roll and press the edge of the dough, so it resembles a thick handle.
Step 4: Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking pan.
Place the pasty on the parchment paper.
Brush the pasty with egg wash.
Poke 1 tiny steam vent hole in the dough where it will not be seen.
Step 5: Bake the pasty in a 375ºF oven, till it is a golden brown color.
Allow the pasty to cool to a safe serving temperature.
Garden Vegetable Cornish Pasty with Dill Crème Fraîche:
This recipe descrbes 1 entrée.
Place the Garden Vegetable Cornish Pasty on a plate.
Place the ramekin of Dill Crème Fraîche on the plate.
Garnish with Italian Parsley sprigs.
On a chilly day, this Garden Vegetable Cornish Pasty is warm, comfortable and delicious!