The Traditional Cornish Pasty.
A traditional Cornish Pasty dates back to the 13th century and unsurprisingly is the source of much discussion. When I say discussion I mean argument!
However to call this dish famous in the UK would be an understatement. Any foodstuff name-checked in classics like the Robin Hood Chronicles, the Canterbury Tales and no less than three works of Shakespeare is no shrinking violet.
In short, the humble Cornish pasty is nothing more than a ‘hand pie’ as I see them called on the web. The filling is with four very good things and some salt and pepper.
Those four things are Potato, Onion, Swede (rutabaga elsewhere) and finally beef. It is then seasoned and wrapped in a pastry.
Afterward, it is baked in a slow oven to allow the flavours and juices to play. They are delicious straight from the oven but even better at room temperature if you ask me.
Pastry is important…
Without reservation I recommend making your own pastry for a Cornish pasty. It is simple an all you have to do is work cold and use a food processor.
The most important aspect of the pastry is to lock in both the ingredients but also the steam and juices. That is the key to the flavour!
As a result of this a shortcrust pastry is perfect. Mixing half butter and lard as the fat content really maximises this function.
Traditionally food of Cornish ‘miners’, if rumour is to be believed. The crimped crust serves as a hand hold and was discarded, because, well mucky hands of course.
By all means feel free to do this but I would advise you to have your head checked. The crust is the best bit!
I’ll leave you with one final bit of pasty trivia. A pasty crimped by a left handed person is called a cock pasty and a pasty crimped by a right handed pasty is a hen pasty, because… Well because nobody knows but do some digging and you will find plenty of folklore! In fact here is a good place to start!
It is hard to believe how much flavour you can get from so few ingredients but believe it you should!