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Thursday, 27 March 2008
It was once said that the Devil would never dare to cross the River Tamar into Cornwall for fear of ending up as a filling in a Cornish Pasty. For centuries the Cornish have been filling their famous pasties with almost any ingredients that you would care to think of. The traditional filling is,of course, beef and potato, usually with slices of onion and swede mixed in as well, but the humble pasty can
also be found in a number of other guises.
The pasty originally evolved to meet the needs of tin mining, that other great, but now sadly declined, Cornish industry. A hearty meal wrapped in a pastry casing made for a very practical lunch (or "croust" , as they used to call it ) down in the dark and damp tunnels of the mine. Some mines even built huge ovens on the surface to keep the miner's pasties hot until it was time to eat. Tradition has it that the original pasties contained meat and vegetables in one end and jam or fruit in the other end, in order to give the hard-working men 'two courses'.
By no means is this trying to be a recipe for traditional Cornish Pasties. I just find this a much more convenient way to make individual pies. Easier to serve and the pastry is crisp and golden all the way round. No soggy bits and no pie dishes to wash. I do so prefer the simple route.
The original recipe is for Chicken Pot Pies and comes from Nigella Lawson's Feast. I have, as is my want, tweaked it a bit.
450gms/1lb plain flour
One large egg and enough iced water to bind the pastry
One egg beaten to glaze
50gms/2oz butter plus a little extra for frying the mushrooms
50gms/2oz plain flour
A chicken stock cube or similar
200gms /7ozmushrooms chopped
250gms/9oz cooked chicken
Fry the mushrooms in butter until just cooked.
Leave to one side
Tip the flour into a bowl and add the butter, cut into chunks, into it. Shake and put the bowl in the freezer for about ten minutes. Put a small jug of water in the fridge and the beaten egg.
Tip the flour and butter into the food processor and pulse until like breadcrumbs. Add the beaten egg and enough cold water to bind. It will form a ball in the food processor.
This can also be done of course in a mixer or by hand which ever your preference
Cut into four pieces and wrap in cling film and put in the fridge.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat.
Whisk in the flour and the crumbled stock cube.
Allow to cook gently for a moment or two
Off the heat add the milk a little at a time whisking until smooth each time.
Return to the heat and keep stirring until thickened and smooth.
Pour the thick white sauce into a jug or a bowl and cover with dampened greaseproof paper until assembling the pasties
When you are ready to put everything together preheat the oven to 200.C/Gas 6/400.F
Roll out each of the pastry quarters into a round and use a dinner plate to cut a circle.
Mix the diced chicken and the mushrooms through the sauce.
Divide the filling between the pastry circles.
Brush the edge of the pastry with some beaten egg and pinch together on top then fold over again pinching the ends and turning them upwards onto the pasty
Brush with beaten egg and bake on a baking sheet until golden brown. About 20 minutes.
I like to serve this with root mash. Potato, turnip, carrot and parsnip all boiled together, drained and mashed with butter salt and pepper.