Yesterday I wandered into the kitchen around dinnertime and opened the fridge, freezer, and pantry, hoping for something to draw me towards it and make me salivate at the thought. What drew me instead was a memory, though I could not tell you at all why. I had the strongest craving for a pasty, a treat you’ll probably be familiar with if you’ve visited England, where a proud pirate hangs over tiny street corner vendors and the occasional brick and mortar store. There are no pasty shops that I know of in my area. (If there are any especially in Southern Virginia please let me know, but I bet readers would appreciate hearing about pasty shops in other parts of the country too.) Although both recipes that I referenced for this meal were for steak and potato pasties, I knew from my time abroad that pasties come in many flavors (my favorite was actually a pork and apple that seems to have vanished from West Cornwall Pasty Co.’s menu), so I made pasties of whatever I had in the house: frozen store-bought pie dough (because I’m lazy), potatoes (I don’t even know what variety exactly because they were on the discount rack of our local grocery store, labeled merely as $.99 for a package of produce, but they are smaller and had red skins), frozen chicken thighs, a can of peas, and some frozen diced onions. The main recipe that I referenced is one out of Dinah Bucholz’s Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook—the first time I’ve used this book though I’ve had it for some time. The other is this by Jim of Upper Peninsula Now, which I found because I wanted to hear from someone who used store-bought pie crust.
Because I decided to do this late last night I had most of today to prep it. I took the pie dough out of the freezer last night and put it in the refrigerator to thaw. I did the same to two chicken thighs (one fairly large, one fairly small) this morning.
Around 4:30 PM today, I finely diced three potatoes, one largish, two small, put those in a bowl with the drained can of peas, threw a generous helping of the frozen onion on top of that, and then microwaved the chicken to thaw it a bit more and diced that as finely as I could, adding it to the bowl too. (Note: on raw chicken, a serrated blade is better than a flat-edge, but a good flat-edge does wonders on potatoes. Also note: there is a lot of fat on chicken thighs.) A bit of salt and pepper was added to the mix even though those are the recommended spices for steak and potato.
I had only one roll of pie dough left, what could have been the top or the bottom of a pie. I gathered the pie dough into a ball, separated that ball into two and rolled each half into two round- or oval-ish pieces. Those pieces I moved one at a time onto an ungreased baking sheet. Once on the baking sheet, I moved some of the mixed filling onto the center of the dough. Really only about two heaping spoonfuls of the mix fit into my pieces. There was a lot leftover, and I’ve put those leftovers into a bag in the freezer in the hopes that this recipe works well and that I can use the same ingredients again.
Once the mix was on the dough, I folded the dough over on itself and pressed the edges together with my fingers, trying to trap all of the filling inside of the dough. One came out beautifully; the other not so much (I think that that piece was both too thin and maybe not round enough; I had to flip it over because the bottom was sort of tearing apart).
I cut two vents into the top of each.
I put the pasties into an oven preheated to 425 F—or I meant to, but this is a new oven to me, and I’d never used it to bake, and didn’t know how it would signal that it was done preheating. They baked for 10 minutes at a hot temperature climbing towards 425 F, then for another 5 minutes at more exactly 425 F (just to be sure; there was raw meat to cook thoroughly after all).
Then I turned the oven’s temperature down to 375 F and let the pasties bake for another hour.
That’s really it. Not a difficult recipe, especially when using store-bought pie dough to escape the hassle of making dough oneself.
They came out of the oven a bit after 6:30, so this first time these took about 2 hours of combined prep and bake time. Really, the prep time was only about 30 minutes, after factoring a bit of time for preheating the oven, which I forgot to do before mixing the filling. And the bake time should only have been 1 hour and 10 minutes instead of the 1 hour and 15 that I used because I was still learning my oven. So altogether, it should have only taken 1 hour and 40 minutes combined prep and bake time.
Out of the oven, the steam is visible rolling off of them and out of the vents, and they’re beautiful—even my too thin one with the tears.
I admit that while these were pretty good, they didn’t taste as good as West Cornwall’s–or my memory of West Cornwall’s anyway. These pasties maybe could have used a bit more seasoning, but I’m not sure what (I’m open to suggestions), and the dough was actually a bit drier than I’d like, but it held the filling in beautifully, even with the vents and tears. For as easy as this recipe was and as inexpensive, I’ll definitely give it another go. These were very filling–or at least I thought so. I couldn’t quite finish mine, but my roommate was not displeased to have my last bite.
All photos are mine and can be enlarged by clicking on them.