Saturday, November 15, 2008

Upper Peninsula Style Pasty

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

printer friendly

7 c. flour
3 tsp. salt
2 c. shortening
cold water

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 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.

Pasty Filling
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.


LutheranChik said...

Rutabagas are an absolute MUST in pasties. No substitutes!

For travelers up north -- some of the tastiest pasties I've had are at an outfit called Mr. Foisie's Pasties. It's on M-115 in Cadillac, right at the M-55 intersection -- it's on a little cul-de-sac on the east side of the light. The crust is amazing.

Maggie said...

Is there anything that can irk a Michigan food lover more than pasty pronounced paste-e?

I'll admit to a rutabaga bias but I really should work to get over it. I swap them out with parsnips in my pasties. I also usually use ground turkey thighs. I'm in love with Cousin Jennie's in Traverse City. They have the best pastry, it's really tasty and flaky. I love their all vegetable pasties with cheese. I'll have to give Mr. Foisie's a try. We sometimes take the Cadillac route up to Traverse.

And I totally remember my parents joking about Wednesday being "Prince Spaghetti Night"!

Laura said...

I am sorry to have missed this year's PastyFest--those little foil-wrapped bundles were treasures to find in the freezer!

muzzyblue said...

Being a life-long Michiganian, I would have to vote for coney dogs (made with genuine Koegel hot dogs, of course!) but anything made with a Jiffy mix could also qualify, don't you think? And of course it would need to be washed down with Faygo.

I have always heard the really authentic pasties were made only with turnips, though. Have you heard that one?

Cynthia said...

Jane, I love coneys, too, but not with Koegels, which is only an Ann Arbor dog. On the east side, where I grew up, Kowalski dogs are where it's at....isn't it funny how hot dog preferences are local? When I lived in the U.P., everyone ate Vollwerth's hot dogs, which I thought were nasty. Anyway, I lived in the U.P. for 7 years, and never heard of anyone putting a turnip in a pasty. Have you tried it?

Edward Vielmetti said...

Mmm, pasties. I've never made one myself, but can vouch for the rutabaga (and not turnip) in the various varieties of Marquette County pasties. Ketchup, of course, and not gravy - with the ketchup squeezed out of little single serving packets.

Diana Dyer said...

We make the 10-12 hour trek from Ann Arbor to northern Wisconsin each year by the northern route (versus going thru Chicago) always stopping at Suzy's Pasties on route 2 just west of St. Ignace. Then we take the pasties to the shore of Lake Michigan to eat before we start the longer (but more beautiful) part of the trip. Yes, rutabagas are a must but as kids, we embarrassed my parents by the amount of catsup we used to cover up the rutabaga taste. Thank goodness our tastes do mature!

Christina Tazelaar said...

Sounds delish! You don't need to cook the meat or veggies for the filling?

Cynthia said...

No, you don't have to cook the filling first, Christina.

Anonymous said...

Meat, potatoes, and onions. Cubed, not ground!!!!!!! That's a real pasty.

Unknown said...

I live in Philadelphia,Pa. & was looking up the store hours for "Mother's Kitchen" cheesecake outle whent I came upon this by accident! I am thrilled! I see these things in a box in the frozen aisle of the supermarket & they sound good. In theory,anyway. (IDK if they're pasties or what,some brands had ground meat...) So,since we never jnow what other ground ingredients companies might put in something with ground meat etc, and I wouldn't know if they were good or not (never having one before, I tried to come up with my own recipe. Wasn't too successfull,lol! But now,thanks to you,I have one to try. Yay!! Oh, and my fiance' loves beggas, but I wasn't brought up on them,so Idk how to make them. Until now :-) thanx much!!! <3

Unknown said...

Cynthia, pasties are one of my favorite foods! I agree that the pasty should be considered for the state food of Michigan. My family often makes trips to the UP and we always take advantage of our time up there to eat pasties. There are a few places to find pasties in the Lower Peninsula, but their pasties are never as good as the ones from north of the bridge.

One time, my family tried pasties in the LP and they were filled entirely with rutabaga. It was the worst pasty experience of my life. I agree with you that a little bit of rutabaga is necessary but so are the rest of the ingredients.

All this pasty talk is making me hungry.... Unfortunately, I don't live in the UP. Have you ever tried a pasty from outside of the UP that you did not make yourself?

SBKarr said...

Sounds like this recipe will be an autumn family activity! Thank you! Hope it turns out as good as it sounds. Lol