20 February 2011

Cornish Pasties

This month Vegetarian Times magazine presented some homey Irish pub food recipes in honor of St. Patty's Day. I've made some of their past Irish recipes, and each one ended in disaster. Their colcannon, especially, emerged a Thing of Nightmare: purple, tasteless muck. But this month's photograph of Cornish Pasties looked SO good. Most importantly, I happened to have all the ingredients on hand.

This time the pasties tasted all right, but I would have to state unequivocally that VT could not have tested this recipe too carefully. We had to alter all sorts of things. The main problem with this recipe, even after testing, is that it's hard to get the pastries not to puff up so much that the pasties are mostly composed of air with just a little filling. If someone figures out how to fix that for me, I'd be eternally grateful. Pricking the dough before baking seems to make some difference, as does stuffing it really tightly.

Our Puffy Cornish Pasties

Ingredients-- Chop everything quite small, for stuffing in pasties.

1 3/4 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 Tablespoons frozen (or quite chilled) unsalted butter
ice water

oil for sautéeing
1/2 Cup chopped onion
1 chopped stalk celery
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 rutabaga, about 1 Cup, chopped
1/2 potato, about 1/2 Cup, chopped
1 chopped peeled carrot
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 eggs or 1 egg plus ice water
1 Tablespoon whole-grain mustard (I used Dijon mustard)
1/4 Cup grated Swiss cheese, any kind

1. Sift together flour and salt into a large bowl.
2. Cut the butter into small pieces (cut the stick lengthwise in half, rotate and cut lengthwise in half again, then slice laterally). Using a pastry cutter, cut it into the flour until you get a roughly even coarse, crumbly texture.
3. Stir in 6 to 8 Tablespoons ice water, just until you can press the mixture together. The less moisture you use, the flakier the crust will be. Shape it into a ball of dough, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for a little over an hour in the refrigerator.
4. While you wait for the dough, make the filling. Sauté the onion, garlic, and celery for 7 minutes or until the onion begins to brown. Add the rest of the vegetables and the thyme. Sauté 3 more minutes, then add 1/2 Cup of water. Cover and let simmer/steam for 12 minutes until the root vegetables are al dente.
4. Beat 1 egg in a large bowl. Mix in the mustard, cheese, and vegetables. Add a little bit of salt and some gratings of pepper. Set aside.
5. Beat the other egg or simply prepare some ice water in a bowl with a pastry brush.
6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, placing the oven rack in the middle of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
7. Divide the dough in half, keeping the other half chilling in the refrigerator. Roll the dough out to about 1/8 inch. Cut out about 7 discs 3 to 4 inches each.
8. Roll each disc into an oval. Brush the rim with egg wash. Place as much stuffing as can fit onto one half of the oval. Fold over the oval, and pinch the edges carefully so the pasties are tightly sealed. Put the pasties on the baking sheet. Brush the sealed pasties with egg wash and prick with a fork to let steam escape. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
9. Repeat #7 and 8 with the rest of the dough. Enjoy hot, room temperature, or cold.

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