I know I have mentioned that my husband and I love meat pies, so I’m very happy to share this recipe for Mince & Cheddar Pasties today. Last year, during my St. Patrick’s Day countdown, I wrote about one of our favourite type of pasty, Chicken & Leek. The origins of the pasty (pronounced pass-tee) are unclear, but it is most usually associated with Cornwall, England not Ireland. However, I ate my first pasty while living in Ireland and therefore when presented with one, warm memories of Ireland always accompany it. But for those of you who might be as of yet unfamiliar with these particular culinary creations, let me start from the beginning. A pasty is a pastry case filled with a meat/vegetable, meat/cheese mixture, or strickly veggie mix, sealed by crimping the edges (more on this “crimping” technique later) and then baked. Oh, and when I say “mince” here, I am talking about ground beef or hamburger. Not whatever that stuff is in mincemeat pies. So Mince & Cheddar pasties are kind of like a “cheeseburger pie” if such a thing exists. (If so, I bet it is delicious!)
The most difficult thing about making these pasties is getting the edges crimped together properly after you’ve topped the rolled out dough with mince & cheese filling. The easiest thing to do is paint the edges of the dough with water or egg wash, fold it over and then just use a fork to crimp the edges closed, thus sealing it. This technique will certainly get the job done. But I have never been satisfied with that simplified crimp. I wanted to get much fancier and do a proper crimp.
I took a look out there on the interweb and as it turns out, there is all sorts of controversy surrounding how and where the crimp of a pasty is done. If you crimp your pasty on the side, it can be called a Cornish Pasty, however if you do a top crimp it should be called a Devon Pasty. And believe me, it looks like folks get really riled up over this. Hmmm…Here is a link to a demonstration of how to crimp a pasty, if you are interested in trying to give it a whirl. It does take a bit of practice, but it looks great if you can master it and the thicker crimp provides a great “handle” to hold onto your pasty while eating it.
Now, if you were pressed for time and didn’t want to bother with fiddling around with the dough much at all, what you could do is get some puff pastry from your local supermarket. Put the mince filling in individual ramekins or a larger pie dish or casserole dish and just cut that store-bought pastry to fit over the top. Easy peasy right? I’m afraid I just couldn’t do that to the husband though, he really loves the pasties when they show up here, so I guess I’ll just keep practicing my crimping.
When my husband and I visited Ireland this past October, we met friends out in a pub while in Dublin. That particular establishment’s “Pie of the Day” turned out to be a Mince & Cheese Pie. We couldn’t resist and ordered it and while it was good, I was delighted when my husband whispered “yours are better”. I’m hoping it wasn’t just the pints talking! I do think that these Mince & Cheddar Pasties of mine are just little bundles of tasty goodness. The rough puff pastry is buttery and flaky and the mince mixture is really flavourful and oozing with cheddar cheese. Yum! Maybe I can get a job as Top Pasty Chef down at the local pub…
Mince & Cheddar Pasties
yield: 6 pies
For the filling:
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lb. ground beef (mince)
- 1 onion, grated
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-3 springs fresh thyme, leaves only
- 3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Tomato puree
- 1 Cup beef Broth
- 1 cup red wine
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 Cup Irish Cheddar
For the rough puff pastry:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- a pinch of sea salt
- 2/3 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon of milk, for glazing
For the Puff Pastry:
To make the pastry, mix the flour with the salt in a food processor. Pulse to combine.
Add the cubed butter pieces and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Add just enough ice water ( 8 – 10 tablespoons) to bring the mixture together into a fairly firm dough.
Shape the dough into a rectangle with your hands and on a well-floured surface, roll it out in one direction, away from you, so that you end up with a rectangle about 3/8″ thick. Fold the far third towards you, then fold the nearest third over that (like folding a letter), so that you now have a rectangle made up of 3 equal layers. Give the pastry a quarter turn, then repeat the rolling, folding and turning process 5 more times. Wrap the pastry in plastic wrap and rest it in the fridge for 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.
While the dough is chilling, make up the mince and cheese filling.
For the filling:
Heat oil in large frying pan. Add ground beef to pan and cook until browned. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If meat has released a lot of grease, drain off. Return pan to heat and add onion and garlic. Stir to combine. Add Worcestershire sauce, tomato puree and thyme. Cook stirring constantly for 2 minutes or so. Pour in red wine and reduce until it is almost completely evaporated. Add beef stock and bring to boil. Allow to simmer until sauce is thickened. Set aside to cool completely.
Once filling has cooled, Preheat oven to 375° F.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface to about 1/8″ thick. Using a plate or cake pan as a template, cut out six 8″ circles.
Brush the around the edges of the circle with the egg wash. Spoon about 1/6 of the mince mixture on to one half of each circle. Cover meat filling with cheddar cheese. Fold the pastry over the filling to form a half-moon shape and crimp the edges to seal.
Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush the tops of the pies/pasties with the egg wash. Slice a couple small slits in the top of each pasty. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Eat hot or cold as you wish.
*Recipe for “Rough Puff Pastry” from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s “River Cottage Every Day”