Ingredients

Filling:

  • 1 large Russet potato (8 to 10 ounces)
  • 2⁄3 pound ground beef
  • 1 1⁄2 cups minced onion (1 large)
  • Heaping teaspoon curry powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dough:
  • 11⁄2 cups flour
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1 tablespoon cold vegetable shortening, lard or rendered chicken fat (see Note)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • About 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1⁄4  cup milk, for brushing
Directions
  1. Boil the potato in its skin just until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the meat in a skillet over low heat until the raw color is gone and the meat begins to brown. Remove the meat from the skillet with a slotted spoon and swab out most of the fat with a paper towel.
  3. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the curry powder and return the beef to the skillet.
  4. Peel the cooked potato, dice finely, and add it to the skillet. Cook for a few minutes, moistening  with a little of the potato water if it is in danger of scorching. Season to taste with salt and pepper (it should  be highly seasoned, as the dough is on the bland side) and let cool.
  5. For the dough, combine the flour, salt and fats in a bowl and cut the fat into small pieces. Rub the mixture between your fingertips, breaking up the lumps of fat into small flakes.
  6. Stir in the egg (leave a tiny bit behind in the bowl for brushing), then add cold water, a tablespoon at a time, stirring  with the fingers of one hand, until the dough just comes together.
  7. Shape into a ball, wrap tightly, and refrigerate 30 minutes to overnight.
  8. Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Divide the dough into 6 equal-size pieces (a scale is handy for this).
  9. On a lightly floured  surface, roll a piece of dough into a 7-inch circle and spoon 1⁄3 cup of the filling on one side. Fold the dough over, press the edges together, and then fold about 1⁄2 inch of the edge up and inward in a series of pleats. Transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
  10. Stir the milk into the egg remaining in the bowl, brush the tops of the pies with a little of this mixture, and make a couple of slits in the tops.
  11. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Serve warm. 
Yield

Makes eight 6-inch pies

Notes

1. You can make this crust with all butter if you like, or a variety of other fats. Lard is a traditional fat for savory pies in England, and before Crisco, Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe used chicken fat rendered with onions for flavor. Shortening gives a nice, flaky crust but no flavor, and the more we learn about the trans-fatty acids in hydrogenated vegetable oils, the less I want to use them. My preferred blend is equal parts unsalted butter and chicken fat.

2. For Sausage Pasties, substitute bulk pork sausage for the ground beef and omit the curry powder.

Good to know: 

Cornish pastries (pronounced long "a", the "r" somehow having been dropped from "pastry") are turnover-shaped meat pies originally baked for Cornish miners to take into the mines for lunch. One theory holds that the thick rolled edge of the crust served as a disposable handle, so a miner could eat the rest of the pie without worrying about toxic stuff on his hands. 

These are smaller pastries, and you can definitely eat the whole crust. I was struggling to come up with just the right dough texture — some of the flakiness of a good pie dough but a little less rich, and strong enough for the pie to be picked up without shattering the crust — when my wife said, "Sounds like knishes." She pulled out her grandmother's knish recipe from a card file, I tried it, and bingo! So just imagine you're a Russian-Jewish grandmother running a bakery in Cornwall ...

Which beer should I drink with this?

Your favorite ale, as bitter or as mild as you like. The little bit of curry powder here isn’t going to quarrel with any beer’s flavor.

Go back to The Microbrew Lover's Cookbook index page.

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From The Microbrew Lover’s Cookbook, Copyright © 2002 by Jay Harlow. Used by arrangement with Jay Harlow.

Photo: me and the sysop/Flickr