Mike Howie's recipe for pasties, a meat-and-potato pie

Mike Howie's recipe for pasties, a meat-and-potato pie

Here's a guest post from News-Gazette Online Editor Mike Howie. I never imagined my blog would reference strippers, but ... it's there if you read it. - Meg

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My mom's family is from the iron mining country of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Immigrants from Cornwall brought the pasty with them to the U.P. It’s a meat-and-potato pie that, back then, miners could eat without utensils. Pasties are my family’s special-occasion meal – our ultimate comfort food. I learned how to make them several years ago. Mine are nowhere near as good as my mom’s. She says hers are not as good as her mom’s.

Pasty, by the way, rhymes with nasty. They are tasty, which rhymes with a stripper’s pasty. (The stripper will have two, of course, but you can only have one pasty. Two, and you would explode like Monty Python’s Mr. Creosote – “oh, no, I couldn’t possibly.”)

Other than these, the most complicated thing I cook is a peanut butter sandwich. So anyone can make these.

Because the good people at Pillsbury went to the trouble, I use their pie crusts, but homemade crust is infinitely better. I cut a medium to large baking potato lengthwise in half, and then cut the halves lengthwise again, then cut them into wedges about a quarter-inch thick. (I leave the skins on, but you can peel them if you like).

On half of the crust, put down a layer of the potato wedges, then some meat (I use ground sirloin), then some onion to taste, then repeat the layers. (Depending on the size of the potatoes and how they’re cut, you might need more than one potato per pasty.)

Some people put salt and pepper or other seasonings on now. I don’t. A pat of butter or margarine should top the whole thing off, then fold the crust over, crimp it and put some vents in the top. I put them on a very lightly floured pizza pan and bake for about 45 minutes at 375 degrees. Open the oven door several times to “check” on the pasties. The house will smell really good.

When they’re done, you can add stuff. Some people swear by ketchup. In the UP, you can order them with or without rutabaga, which I suppose you would add while preparing them in the first place. I find that after they come out of the oven, opening the crust and putting some shredded cheese in to melt is just fine – but then I am also quite fond of cheeseburgers. (At a pasty shop I went to a few years back in London, there were something like 20 varieties of fillings.) A purist wouldn’t add anything.

Do not plan any activity afterward that does not involve a couch or recliner.

 

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