If Michigan ever declared a state food, what would it be? Cherries? Morels? Coney Dogs? Vernors? Pasties would be in the running. A pasty (rhymes with "nasty", but it definitely isn't) is like a beef pot pie, and you can buy them all over the place in the U.P. Yoopers usually eat them with ketchup, but I like mine with beef gravy or mustard on them. They are a wonderful filling meal for fall and winter. Labor intensive to make; I suggest you get together with a friend and make and freeze a batch. My friend Alison and I do so every November. We did just that yesterday - we started at about 10 am and were finished making a total of 52 pasties for the freezer by 3 pm. We rewarded ourselves with some Oxbow Hard Cider.
If you have pie crust phobia, you can get over it by making pasties. Pasty making is great for people that need "Pie Crust Rehab". The crust is very forgiving, and soon you will get used to what the right texture of crust should be with your hands. Too much or too little water, and you'll have trouble rolling them out. You'll get the hang of it because you will roll out many in the course of making pasties.
Even if you hate rutabagas, they are not optional in a pasty. Don't skip them - they will not turn out tasty if you skip them. You can dice all the vegetables and cut up the meat yourself, but it takes a long time to do so. If I am making 50 pasties, I use a food processor to cut the veggies. In the interest of time, I asked my favorite butcher Bob Sparrow to cut the meat for me. He was able to cut all the meat in 5 minutes - it would have taken me an hour. He also suggested sirloin tip instead of the usual round steak and his suggestion was a great improvement. This year was our best tasting pasties ever!
Pasties are traditionally eaten on Wednesday nights in the U.P. I'm not sure why....downstate, Wednesday was "Prince Spaghetti Night". Any Detroiters remember that?
This recipe makes about 15 pasties - Alison and I usually triple it.
U. P. Style Pasties
6 c. flour
3 tsp. salt
2 c. shortening
Mix flour and salt together, and cut in shortening until the mixture is pea sized. Add cold water slowly (about a cup) until the dough can stick together to form into a ball. Form into 15 balls about two inches in diameter. The goal is to roll out each pasty crust so it's about 8 inches in diameter.
To roll it out, put a liberal amount of flour on the counter top. and flour your rolling pin. Smash the ball into a hockey puck shape, working it with your hands to avoid creating any cracks in it. Gently roll it out. After every couple rolls with the pin, flip the crust over, adding a little flour if it is needed. If you have trouble flipping it over because it sticks, you're adding too much water during the mixing of the dough. Don't worry; just work some more flour into it. On the other hand, if it is cracking up when you try to flip it, it's too dry and you should try to work a little more water into it. The perfect crust will just be on the verge of cracking, but won't actually crack if you handle it gently. That is the key to good pie crust....to just be on the verge of cracking.
Don't worry if you have to rework the pasty dough - it's not critical that it's tender like it would be if you were making a pie. The same roll out technique I've described here will work for a pie crust, too. Pretty soon, you will know by touch if you have too much water or too little. After the first couple pasties, you will be a pie crust pro! Look out Martha Stewart! You can make pie for Thanksgiving everyone will love.
1 1/2 lb. sirloin tip trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch size cubes
1/2 lb. ground pork
Half of a large rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch sticks and stood up in the feed tube of your food processor and sliced using the thickest slicing blade you have - the thicker the better.
1 lb carrots, peeled and sliced in your food processor like the 'baga
1 large onion, cut in quarters and sliced as aforementioned vegetables
7 medium potatoes, diced
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
10 pats of butter
Mix all the ingredients together except the butter. Fill each pastry with a handful of filling, and top with a pat of butter. Fold over to form a pocket. Pinch closed and use a sharp knife to cut a couple vents in the top. On a parchment covered cookie sheet or jelly roll pan, bake in a 400 F oven for 30 minutes if you are planning on freezing them, 1 hour if you are planning on eating them now. If you freeze them, I generally thaw them out and heat them up for 30 minutes at 350 F.