Recently I was asked if I knew how to make pasty pie (pronounced PAS-tee pie). I had a vague idea that it was a meat pie, but the only thing I could conjure up in my mind was a Hot Pocket….gross! After a little bit of research, I learned that pasties trace their origins back to at least 19th century England, where they were a convenient lunch for Cornish tin miners. The pastry casing, as the story goes, was a convenient way to keep the filling warm and free of dirt. The miners would hold the edges, eat the inside and discard the dough when they were done.
Cornish people who immigrated to northern Michigan brought the tradition to the States, but many cultures had a fondness for pies. The pastry is no longer discarded, but an important part of the success of a good pie. The traditional pasty pie consists of beef, potatoes and onions. In certain parts of the country, there is a running controversy over whether carrots should be included or not.
So I set to work, with a vague notion of what I hoped to accomplish with my version of a pasty. I wanted a flaky dough that was stable enough to hold up to a decent filling….my traditional crust with a bit of extra water should work just fine. The meat had to be flavorful and shredded or in tender bite sized chunks, roasted potatoes and caramelized onions.
I was unsure about any sort of sauce because I didn’t want the filling to be too wet and cause the dough to become soggy. The trick is to cook all of your filling ingredients and cool completely before assembling pies. They can also be assembled, frozen and then cooked at a later time for homemade goodness straight from your freezer.
Although the recipe appears complicated, it is quite easy as you prepare the rest of the ingredients once you pop the meat in the crock pot.
Short Rib Pasty Pies
- 1 batch standard pie dough
- 2 -3 lbs. thin-sliced short ribs
- 2 cups decent quality Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot
- 2 tbs. Hoisin Sauce
- 2 tbs. Tomato Paste
- ¼ cup Grade B or good quality Maple Syrup
- 2 tbs. Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2-3 cloves garlic
Combine wine, hoisin, tomato paste, syrup, vinegar and garlic in a medium bowl and whisk together.
Over a very high heat (I did mine on the bbq grill) sear both sides of the short ribs for about 1 minute or until brown and nice sear marks appear. Transfer to Crock Pot or Dutch Oven and pour wine mixture over. If necessary, add more wine to almost cover ribs. Cook approximately 4 hours on high setting of crock pot until liquid is slightly cooked down and meat falls off bone and is shredded easily. Remove meat from liquid and carefully shred or break into bite size pieces removing any fat or connective tissue. Set aside in bowl.
Transfer liquid to sauce pan after removing fat. (The easiest way is to chill and then scrape hardened fat off the top). Boil until thickened enough to coat back of spoon. Salt & pepper to taste.
Add enough of the cooking sauce to the meat to thoroughly moisten the meat, but don’t over do it. You don’t want the meat swimming in liquid.
- 1 lb. Fingerling or Yukon Gold Potatoes
- 2 – 3 tblsp. Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, leaves removed from stem and chopped
Preheat oven to 425°. Scrub potatoes and cut into a fairly small dice, ½” or so. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and douse with olive oil, sprinkle generously with kosher salt, pepper and rosemary. Toss well to evenly coat potatoes and distribute seasoning.
Cook for approximately 30 minutes, tossing about every 10 minute until potatoes are tender and lightly browned. Remove from oven and set aside.
- 2 Walla Walla Sweet Onions or other sweet onions
- 2-3 tblsp. Olive Oil
- 2 tblsp. Balsamic Vinegar
Peel onions and cut into ¼” thick rings and then cut into quarters.
In large skillet heat oil over medium heat, then add onions, cooking slowly to soften and gradually brown. This process should take 15 – 20 minutes, as you do not want to burn or cook the onions too quickly. The idea is to allow the natural sweetness to develop so that the onions will practically melt in your mouth. Turn heat up to medium high and add balsamic vinegar and cook about 2 minutes to allow onions to become caramelized. Remove from heat and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Have all of your ingredients ready, meat, potatoes, pie dough.
Also, prepare an egg wash with one egg whisked together with one tsp. cold water.
If you are using the standard dough recipe and the dough has already been divided into two disks, cut each disk into thirds. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll it out on a floured surface into a circle about 9” wide.
Draw an imaginary line in the circle and pile some of the meat, potatoes and onions onto the front half of the dough leaving about 1 1/2” border. Toss the ingredients together and if desired, sprinkle with a bit more olive oil and balsamic to moisten filling. Fold top half of dough over the filling so that the edges touch and you are looking at a half moon shape. To seal, fold the edges over back into the filling, flute with your fingers and then press with tines of fork. Transfer to baking sheet.
If cooking immediately, brush with egg wash and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. If planning to freeze, put them in the freezer uncovered for 3 hours and then remove and wrap individually in plastic wrap and pack together in ziplock freezer bag. They cook perfectly when taken directly from the freezer to the oven.
Depending on your personal tastes, they can be served with ketchup.