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Cornish Pasty


The Cornish Pasty – apart from being a must on any pub menu – can be nifty and hunger satisfying snack to offer around at your next party. Serve with glasses brimming with cold, refreshing, dry cider (I recommend Bulmers) and you’ll have the guests demanding a re-play. 

The pasty became popular because it was small, portable and belly filling and could stay relatively warm for 8-10 hours. Cornish miners, whose wives claim to have invented the dish, would also heat them up by place the pasty on a shovel and holding it over the candle from their headlamp. 

According to the Cornish Recipes Ancient and Modern, "The true Cornish way to eat a pasty is to hold it in the hand, and begin to bite it from the opposite end to the initial, so that, should any of it be uneaten, it may be consumed later by its rightful owner.  And woe betides anyone who takes another person's corner!" 

Miners never ate a pasty with a fork; they ate it held upright to keep the juices in. The pastry crust was crimped larger at one end in a crude form of a handle, which was practical as the miners had no facilities to wash their hands before eating. Since entire families worked in the mines and each family had their own favourite fillings, the Cornish wife would stamp the bottom corner of each pasty with an initial.

There was a superstition among the miner's that the initial or handle corner should not be eaten; instead it was thrown on the ground for the gremlins to eat.  These mischievous little imps could be a problem in the mines, causing accidents and roof collapses; feeding them supposedly kept them out of trouble.  There could be some truth to this rumor, because the early Cornish tin mines used large amounts of arsenic and by not eating the corner which a miner held in his fingers, he would avoid consuming the poison.

Gans oll an colon vy

Cornish Pasty
Ingredients for short crust pastry
1lb plain flour
1/2 lb either lard hard margarine or butter or a combination of these
pinch of salt
cold water to mix

Preperation
Rub the fat into the flour but not too finely. You might try cutting the fat into small lumps. Add the salt and then start adding the water gradually until it works together into a ball without being sticky. Put aside in a cool place.
Ingredients for filling
3/4 lb beef, not stewing beef
raw potato
raw swede
small onion
salt and pepper
a walnut sized piece of butter

Preperation
Cut the steak into small pieces but do not mince. Slice potato and swede into thin, small pieces about half an inch across. Chop onion finely. Dust the work surface with flour. Roll out the pastry to about 1/4 inch thickness. Using a small plate cut out circles. Moisten the edge with milk or water and support half of the pastry nearest to you over the rolling pin. On the other half, put a small layer of prepared vegetables then a layer of beef. Repeat this once but be careful not to have too much filling which would cause the pastry to burst during the cooking process. Sprinkle sparingly with salt and pepper then add a small bit of the butter. Sprinkle a dusting of flour over the filling (this helps to make the gravy). Fold the other half of pastry which has been resting on the rolling pin over the filling and squeeze the half circle edges firmly together. Starting at the right side whilst supporting the left side with other hand, using first finger and thumb turn the edge over to form a crimp. Repeat this process all along the edge. This will come with practice but you must get a good seal. Brush pasty with beaten egg wash to help with browning process and put a small one inch cut in the centre of the top to allow steam to escape. Bake in a hot oven 220 degrees centigrade for about 20 minutes then reduce temperature to 160 degrees centigrade for a further 40 minutes. Smaller pasties need less time. If they are browning too quickly cover loosely with greased paper.

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