Well, it may be spring, but here in Minnesota the weather has been rather capricious, vacillating mercilessly between winter and summer. The weekend was beautiful, but the new week was heralded by thunderstorms and cooler temperatures again. Looks like the entire week will be like this.
It’s the kind of weather that makes me want to eat oatmeal and drink hot chocolate and curl up with a good book.
And eat comfort food for dinner.
That’s where this recipe comes in. It’s one of my grandma’s, but I don’t have a scanned version since she decided to throw away her recipe card for this one when we were cleaning out her old recipe box because she knows it by heart.
These are called “pastys,” pronounced like “past-eez,” not like the color my skin gets in the winter.
From what I understand, pastys originated in England, but I’ve only heard of them in the US as an Upper Michigan thing. My grandma lived in Upper Michigan for a while growing up, and I still have some relatives up there. Hi Aunt Deb! (Oh wait, I don’t know if she gets internet up there yet… ;)
A pasty is a pastry pocket filled with meat and vegetables, and has always been a one of my family’s favorites. And since I’ve introduced it to my husband, it’s become one of his favorites, too.
So now that you know what it is, let me show you how to make it.
You will need: potatoes, carrots, an onion, ground beef and pie crusts.
Ok, so I’ve adjusted my grandma’s recipe a little. I can’t help it. I almost never follow any recipe verbatim, not even my own. I’m just a rebel, what can I say?
Her original recipe calls for 4 large potatoes and 2 carrots, but I happen to like carrots a lot, so I make it so I have about equal parts carrots and potatoes. I had insanely skinny carrots, so I used 6. I usually only need 4, along with 2 large potatoes or 3 smallish ones. My grandma also uses dried minced onion, but I generally don’t keep that stuff on hand, so I use fresh.
Oh, also, my grandma makes her own pie crusts, but, well… I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
I don’t make pie crusts.
Oh, I’ve made them before. But they’re finicky and more work than I want to do. Yes, I know all the tricks to making a good pie crust, but I still hate dealing with the stuff. And thanks to my friends at Pillsbury, I don’t have to. I buy the ready-made kind and they always turn out.
But if you happen to like making your own pie crusts, by all means, go ahead. You’ll need enough for 2 pie crusts.
You’ll need to dice your onion up fairly small. Or you can use the dried stuff and skip this step, but the flavor is a bit different.
You also need to dice your potatoes. My grandma peels her potatoes, but peeling potatoes is just something I don’t feel the need to do. Plus it’s better for you to eat the skin. I buy potatoes like Yukon Gold or red potatoes where the skin is thinner and I do not peel them if I don’t have to.
If you’re using Russet potatoes, I would recommend peeling them because Russet skins are ew. Hence, I do not buy Russet potatoes unless I have to.
So dice your potatoes (skin or no) to about a 1-inch dice.
Cut your carrots to be roughly similar in size to your potatoes.
Throw all the vegetables into a large bowl with the ground beef.
Add salt and pepper and stir.
Now you’ll need to roll out your pie crusts, or in my case, unroll your ready-made ones. (Make sure to follow the instructions on the box for proper thawing or bringing to room temperature.)
My grandma has taken to making smaller pastys recently, so if that’s what your heart is telling you to do, go for it. If you make your own pie crusts, you can make the pastys any size you want. Hers are now sort of individual-sized… and by that I mean still way too big for me to eat a whole one by myself. But still small enough for my husband to eat two. ;)
Supposing you’re like me and just making regular-size ones, divide the meat/vegetable mixture into 2 equal portions and spread it over half of each of your rolled out/unrolled pie crusts.
Now carefully fold the other side of the dough over the filling.
I was not adequately careful as I was in a hurry to get this in the oven so we could eat before the Little Man got extraordinarily crabby.
I will regret that decision for the rest of my life.
You’ll need to then press the edges together and give it a bit of a crimp. If you’re one of those people who makes a lot of pies, you can make this all pretty. But it’s not really necessary. You just need to make sure the seam stays together. It won’t taste any worse if it’s not pretty. It’s rustic if it’s not all even and perfect. :)
As you can see, in my haste the pie crust broke over the top of some of the potatoes. I’ll admit this is probably less likely to happen if you use homemade pie crusts, but again,
I don’t make pie crusts.
The second pasty turned out much better.
You want to cut a few slits in the top so steam can escape.
One of these feeds my husband and myself quite nicely, so we usually freeze the other one, just like this. I put it in the freezer on a cookie sheet while it’s raw for an hour or two (or twenty-four in this case, since I forgot all about it) and then wrap it in foil and put it back in the freezer. Then when it’s time to bake it, I unwrap it and stick it in the oven, still frozen.
You’ll need to bake the pastys at 350〫for about an hour. I usually have to bake my frozen ones up to 15 minutes longer to make sure they’re cooked all the way through.
Oh, remember how my first pasty had some tears in the top? Well, those structural imperfections led to a complete structural failure in the oven.
Uh, wait. No, I meant to do that. Y’know, so you could get a glimpse of what is going on inside of the pasty.
Totally did that on purpose.
Let me tell, you, though… Structurally perfect or imperfect, with pretty crimped edges or rustic ones, this thing still tastes fantastic.
The combination of meat, potatoes, carrots and flaky pastry are soooo delicious.
We generally eat it with ketchup.
*Little known fact: my dad eats it with so much ketchup his face turns red. True story.*
Make this on a rainy day. It’ll totally make your night.