Not-Quite-Cornish Pasties

As any true Cornish person will tell you, the perfect recipe for a Cornish Pasty is impossible to master unless you’re actually Cornish – so much so that these tasty pies have protected status, and can’t be called Cornish Pasties unless they are made in Cornwall, which these most definitely weren’t!

I do however have a history of long childhood holidays in Cornwall, and lots of Cornish relations who have taught me a few tricks over the years! That being said, this is a version I’ve honed over the years to suit us. I’ve used shop-bought sheet pastry as it’s quicker, but feel free to make your own shortcrust pastry if you want.

Originally made for Cornish tin miners to take to work with them, these pasties are the ultimate in food on the go. Personally I love them piping hot, served with English mustard and malt vinegar (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it), but they are great for wrapping up and sending out with a family member who’s got a long day ahead.

This recipe is very simple, and very popular at home! I quite often double the batch and put half in the freezer for those days I haven’t got time to cook but still need to produce something for dinner!

Cornish Pasties

Ready in 80 minutes. Makes 4-6 large pasties

Ingredients

  • 1kg diced beef
  • 1/2 cup cornflour
  • 10ml high heat cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 swede, diced (approx 1.5cm x 1.5cm)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon mixed herbs
  • 1 packet shortcrust pastry sheets
  • 1 egg
  • Sea salt & freshly-ground black pepper

Method

Heat oven to 180°.

Cut diced beef into small squares, about 5cm x 5cm. Tip the cornflour and half the mustard powder into a plastic bag (check it doesn’t have any holes!), season well with salt & pepper and add the diced beef. Toss around until all the beef is floured. Remove beef pieces from the bag, reserving the cornflour mix for later.

In a heavy based frying pan, heat oil until sizzling. Sear beef pieces, a few at a time, until they are brown and crispy on the outside. Don’t overfill your pan or you won’t get the crispiness. Once cooked, remove beef from pan and place aside.

In the same pan, add a little more oil, add diced onions and saute until golden brown, using a spatula to incorporate all the yummy crispy bits on the bottom. When the onions are golden, add diced swede, bay leaf, remaining mustard powder and mixed herbs, and give it a quick stir. Season to taste. Pour in about a third of the stock and the mixed herbs, and add the beef.

Cook for about 20 minutes on medium high, adding more of the stock as it reduces. When the meat is cooked through and soft, but you still have about 1/2 cup of liquid left in the pan, stir your reserved cornflour and mustard in a little of the stock and add to the pan. Cook on high until most of the liquid has gone, and the remainder is thick and juicy.

On a floured surface, cut pastry sheets into circles (I use a dinner plate as a guide). Place a large spoonful of the mix in an oval shape on the pastry, taking care not to overfill. Brush the edge of the pastry with milk or water, and lift the sides so the pastry meets in the middle on the widest part of your oval. Pinch the edges together, turning up the ends. Repeat.

Beat egg, and brush over the pasties. Cook for around 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden and the pasty bottoms are crusty and sound hollow when knocked. Serve immediately, or allow to cool and freeze. Pasties will keep for around 3-5 days in the fridge.