Sunday, November 7, 2010

Not-Quite-Cornish Pasties

I dearly love a pasty, a 'ot leaky one;
With mayt, turmit and taty, h'onyon and parsley in 'un.
The crus' be made weth suet, shaped like 'alf a moon;
Crinkly h'edges, freshly baked 'e es alway gone too soon!

~ Walter F. Gries

We spend part of every summer in England, fleeing the oppressive heat and humidity of the New World to bask in the pleasures of the "old": family, friends, Real Ale, local cider, medieval architecture, morris dancing, Shakespeare plays, and fields full of sheep as far as the eye can see (not to mention some of the best curries this side of Nirvana). Sigh. Another thing we look forward to is the eating of pasties, which are readily available in a wide variety of fillings, including many that are suitable for vegans. One Sunday, longing for the old sod (and missing England, too), I made these for dinner with a side of mashed potato and braised carrots, and they were all gobbled up within 48 hours; next time I'll double the recipe and see how they freeze.

While nothing can match the warm, fuzzy feeling of munching a warm pasty in the shadow of the second tallest Maypole in England - located in the picturesque village of Welford-on-Avon, Warks., where we stayed a few visits back - after a few pints of local bitter, these provided a nice stopgap, and there's nothing keeping you from whipping up a batch of these beauties and dancing around the kitchen (or indeed a maypole, should you be fortunate enough to have access to one). Please note that this is meant to be a general model for pasty-making, for which the fillings are endlessly adaptable. Cornish pasties traditionally include beef or lamb, which was obviously not going to happen, and turnip/swede; since we're not major turnip fans, I used mushrooms instead, but next time I may do Something Completely Different. The main point is that you should have a nice, podgy filling, encased in a delicious pastry crust that can be eaten by hand: the original "to go" meal!

Not-Quite-Cornish Pasties
The Pastry
~ 4 cups all purpose flour
~ 1 cup coarse wholemeal flour (I used Odlum's)
~ 1 tsp. salt
~ 3/4 cup cold vegan margarine or shortening (I used a combination)
~ 1 - 1.5 cups ice water

~ In a large bowl, sift together the flours and the salt.
~ Cut (or grate, if it's frozen) the margarine and/or shortening, then use your fingers to combine the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.
~ Add the ice water about 1/4 cup at a time, mixing with each addition until you get a stiff but workable dough (I needed a total of 1 1/4 cups of water for this batch; however, as this is an inexact science, your mileage may vary).
~ Mix thoroughly and knead for a minute or two until well combined. Form the dough into a ball, cover, and allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (it's easier to work with when it's cold).
~ Now you can make...

The Filling
~ 2 tbsp. oil
~ 1 cup chopped onion
~ 1/2 cup diced celery
~ 3/4 cup diced carrot
~ 2 potatoes, diced
~ 6 oz. vegan meatballs - about 1/3 of a package - mashed to a pulp (a few crumbled veggie burgers will also work)
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, sage, marjoram, parsley
~ 1/2 tsp. thyme
~ A few generous grinds of pepper
~ 1/2 cup hot water
~ 2 tsp. Marmite
~ 1 tbsp. HP or vegan Worcestershire sauce
~ 1/2 cup frozen peas

~ In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil and saute the onion, celery, and carrot over medium heat, about 5 minutes.
~ Add the potato and and seasonings, and cook an additional 5 minutes.
~ Dissolve the Marmite in the hot water and add to the vegetables along with the HP sauce and the smashed meatballs.
~ Combine thoroughly, then cover and continue cooking another 10 minutes, until the potatoes are softened.
~ Add the peas and cook an additional minute or two.
~ Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

The Assembly
~ Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.
~ Roll out the pastry and use a 6" plate to cut out circles of dough (I got 10 good-sized pasties from this recipe).
~ Into the center of each circle, place about 1/3 cup of filling, then crimp the edges of the dough together, using a little water to make it stick, then press the edges with a fork.
~ Place on an oiled baking sheet, and brush the tops with a little melted margarine mixed with soy milk.
~ Bake for 25-30 minutes until nicely browned.
~ Serve hot as a main course, with mashed potatoes, gravy, and cooked veggies, or eat cold or at room temperature as the classic "to go" meal.


  1. I love a good pasty, there's a Cornish pasty shop around the corner from my house that sells three kinds of vegan pasty.

  2. Delicious, and held together beautifully. The marmite and HP sauce make them very English indeed.

  3. Ooh, definitely going to give these a try - we had a terrible vegan pasty the other day which had no flavour whatsoever, these look way better!

  4. Mmmmmmmm pasties! I got a little bit homesick reading this post.

  5. Recipe looks good, I'll definitely give it a try. I have a minor nitpick, a traditional Cornish pasty was always made with mutton not beef. Grisly old mutton too. Far better without it.

  6. Jack - you're absolutely right about the mutton; my mother always used leftover lamb (complaining all the while about mutton being harder to come by than it once was) in her Cornish pasties. I also agree that it is FAR better without it! (Of course, I also jettisoned the swede, so I freely confess to pasty apostasy...please don't burn me...or my pasty recipe!)

  7. Made these tonight with Trader Joe's Vegan Beef Strips instead of meatballs (what I had on hand). They were so great! I was a bit skeptical about the pastry because you said to knead it (rough handling for pie-crust-type stuff) but it turned out beautifully and was much easier to handle than typical pie-crust-type stuff.

  8. Becky - I'm glad you enjoyed them! I'm sure the TJ's beef strips would be great; I'll try that next time. I've always been pretty intimidated by pastry, but I've found this to be easy to work with (it's basically an adaptation of what my mom used to do); I just have to be careful not to over-handle it!