Cornish Pasties with Pork Belly

BY CHRIS ELVIDGE
FROM THE TEA THROWDOWN
Cornish Pasties

The inspiration for these came from an old cookbook that came to me from my grandmother. Cornish pasties are basically meat pies that can be eaten with the hands, which was important as they were a common lunch staple of laborers, who had to eat standing. I added the pork belly and a few other ingredients to the filling; it’s basically a thick meat stew. The recipe for the dough and the final baking instructions are from Gladys Mann (1967) Traditional British: cooking for pleasure. The Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited, London. 156pp.

Filling Ingredients
2lbs beef (stewing beef is fine, or you can go with a higher-end blade or roast),
cut into ¼ – ½” cubes
¾ lb pork belly, ¼” cubed
2 small Vidalia onions, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2tbsp vegetable oil
2 or 3 small new potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/8” cubes
2 or 3 heirloom carrots, peeled and diced into 1/8” cubes
2 or 3 cups of stock
2 bay leaves

Method

  1. Heat oil in a covered sauce pan on medium-high, add onions, garlic and carrots and sautée until translucent. Add cubed pork belly and cook until fat is mostly rendered.
  2. Add cubed beef and sear on all sides. Reduce heat, add stock and bay leaves, cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove bay leaves and add potatoes. Keep covered and continue to simmer until potatoes are fully cooked. Uncover and continue to simmer until the sauce reaches a thick consistency. Tip: when reducing a broth for gravy, you may need to add an extra thickening agent.
  4. Slowly add sifted flour, a teaspoon at time, mixing well, to reach desired consistency. A drop or two of black food colouring can be used to deepen the colour as desired.

Short Pastry Ingredients (so-called because it doesn’t have to rest or rise)
8oz. all-purpose (self-rising) flour
4oz cooking fat (e.g. lard, butter, or shortening) – shortening is the “heart-smart” option.
Note: however much you use, the ratio is 2 flour:1 fat, by weight
1/4tsp salt
cold water

Method

  1. Sift flour and salt together in a mixing bowl. Mix the fat in with your fingertips, liftingand peaking the dough, until a crumbly consistency is reached. Adding cold water a few drops at a time, start mixing to a stiff paste using a flat knife and finish with your fingertips.
  2. Turn out onto a floured board and work with the heels of your palms until smooth; roll out to desired thickness (e.g. 1/8 – ¼”) and use immediately.
  3. Cut circles of desired size out of the dough (2 – 4” diameter for hors d’ouvres). Place room-temperature filling in the center of the circles a few spoonfuls at a time, leaving enough space to fold the dough over. Brush milk along the edges of the dough, then seal them together and crimp with your fingertips, forming crescent shapes.
  4. Place on a baking sheet, brush the tops of the pasties with beaten egg (egg wash) and bake at 425°F for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 325°F and bake for 30 minutes longer. Check the pastries frequently throughout; if they are getting dark too quickly, reduce heat in 50°F increments. The final product should be golden brown and just a tiny bit flaky.

This dish stands up on its own, but benefits from some moisture. I served it with a green tomato ketchup; any kind of chutney or salsa you prefer should work just fine as a topping or dip.

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