Rib Sticking Cornish Pasties

Four years ago, I was living in a basement apartment with my cat and another co-op student. Looking back on that time now, I realize that semester shaped and solidified a lot of my views on food. We head-butted about almost everything food related: sugar, fat-free yogurt, protein, butter. I remember sitting on the floor of the kitchen (we had very little furniture) with my back to the freezer, growing annoyed and angry as I defended my choice to eat what I want for no other reason but that I enjoy it. And that you don’t have to pay for it with three intense hours at the gym.

That semester, I made these for the first time. The recipe was hard, especially working with pastry, but I was proud of the rough little doughy packets of meat. I know they’re not good for you. Any kind of pastry has a lot of butter in it. But I stand by my convictions that, within reason, you can let go of everything you know about food and eat something purely because it’s not good for you and because it’s delicious.

Pastry is not that hard. Rolling out the pastry to be thin enough without going too thin is hard. Folding the pastry over and creating a good seal without breaking the pastry on the chunks of meat is hard. Making it all pretty is hard. But making pastry itself? Not that hard. Here’s a hint: use your hands.

Cornish Pasties

Note: Pasties is pronounced pass-tees. Not paste-tees.

I adapted this recipe from somewhere. But I can’t remember where and, it’s so different, it’s not the same recipe anymore.


2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup butter

Cut the butter in with a knife and mix with a pastry cutter or fork until crumbly. Then, starting adding water. Add water in small increments until the pastry forms a ball in the bottom of your bowl. You don’t want it to be sticky, but you want everything sticking together properly.

Sprinkle some flour on your counter top and roll the dough out until it’s pretty thin. Use your personal preference. If you like your crusts nice and thick, keep the pastry thicker. I think I didn’t get mine thin enough. Put a plate on top of the dough and, using a knife, cut around the plate to create a circle of dough.

Mix the dough back up again, reapply the flour and roll it out again. Cut out another circle. Repeat until you don’t have enough dough left or are really sick of creating circles of dough.


A bunch of steak, hamburger, or some other kind of meat. I used about 2 cups of cubed blade steak.
2 potatoes, cubed
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium-sized onion
Any other hearty vegetables you may want in your filling
1 tbs rosemary
1 tbs cumin
1 tbs Montreal steak spice
a couple splashed of olive oil

Mix everything together in a nice big bowl. I did not use a big enough one.

(Next time I make these, I will also, somehow, mix in some gravy. Probably from a package. I’m simple that way.)

Now comes the fun part: creating the pasties.

Take one of your pastry circles and prop up half of it on your rolling pin. This is just to make sure you don’t over-fill it too much. On the other half, place a generous portion of filling. Comme ça:

Note: The filling is not cooked when you put it into the pastry.

Using water or milk, dampen the flat edge of the pastry. Fold the other edge over your pile of meat and veggies and press into the dampened edge. Crimp with a fork or your fingers, ensuring there is a good seal. If your dough breaks, don’t panic. Dampen a little left-over pastry and press it over the hole to create a seal. It won’t be as pretty, but it still works.

Place your pasties in a casserole dish or on a baking sheet. Prick with fork or a knife to create some vents. And, pop it in the oven! Cook at 425* for approximately 40 minutes or until the pastry crust is golden brown. Keep an eye on it — every oven is different.

And, break into it. The crust might be a little crispy, but the inside will be piping hot and delicious. And will stay piping hot the whole time you’re eating it. (Apparently, miners in Cornwall used to hold these under their shirts to keep them warm all morning until they ate them at lunch!) By the time you finish, you will be absolutely stuffed.



Filed under food

2 responses to “Rib Sticking Cornish Pasties

  1. Mom

    Did you actually use butter? Most pastry recipes I have call for lard or shortening. I think lard will make the pastry more flaky. I’ve always been challenged by making pastry of any kind, I’m wondering if butter makes the dough easier to handle.

    • I used margarine. The pastry was definitely not flaky, which I think is why I found the crust to be too thick. But I didn’t find it particularly difficult to handle.

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