“Few meals have roots as deep as the Cornish pasty, a hand-held meat-and-vegetable pie developed as a lunch for workers in the tin mining region of Cornwall. With its semicircular shape and an insulating crust that can double-duty as a handle, then pasties helped sustain the miners through their long working days. Today, the humble Cornish pasty receives special designation, along with Champagne and Parma ham, as a protected regional food by the European Union.” Luke Nguyen
- 340 g (2¼ cups) plain flour
- 115 g (¾ cup) strong plain flour
- generous pinch of salt
- 115 g chilled margarine, cut into small pieces
- 300 ml cold water
- 115 g lard, softened but not melted (see Note)
- 1 egg
- 50 ml milk
- 1 medium potato, peeled and chopped
- ½ swede (turnip), peeled and chopped
- 2 onions, chopped
- 1 leek, pale part only, chopped
- 280 g beef skirt steak, diced
- 2 pinches of salt
- ½ tsp ground white pepper
- 1 small knob of butter
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time 2 hours
To make the pastry, place the flours, salt and margarine into a large mixing bowl. Using your fingertips, rub the margarine through the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. It doesn’t matter if there are still some larger pieces of margarine. Make a well in the centre, then pour half the water into the well and use a butter knife to lightly combine. Add the remaining cold water and combine just until a dough comes together.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Using a rolling pin, flatten and shape the dough into a thin rectangle shape about 1 cm-thick. Spread one third of the lard over the rectangle. Now is time for ‘flipping and flopping’, which will create the many layers in the pasty pastry.
Flip the bottom half of the rectangle into the middle, then flop the top half of the dough over the bottom half. Press all the sides down with your hands, rotate the dough clockwise by 90º, then repeat the rolling and spreading process two more times with the remaining lard. Cover the pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 110ºC.
Lightly beat the egg and milk together and set aside. Cut the chilled pastry in half, then roll out each half on a lightly floured work surface until about 3 mm-thick. Using an 18 cm plate as a guide, cut out one round from each half. Brush around the edges of each round with the egg wash.
Divide the filling ingredients between the two pastry rounds, starting with the potatoes, then swede, onion, leek and meat. Season generously with salt and pepper, then top with a small knob of butter. Wipe around the pastry edges to be clear of any filling ingredients, then bring two sides up to meet at the top. Press together the edges with your fingers to seal the pasties well. Place on a baking paper-lined oven tray and gently lie the pasties one their sides.
Using your forefingers and thumbs, pleat the edge from left to right making sure there are no air gaps or holes in the pastry. If there are holes in the pastry, patch them up with the left over pastry and egg wash. Brush the pasties all over with egg-wash, then bake for 1 hour or until golden and crisp.
• If lard is not available, substitute with butter and bake at 160ºC instead.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Alice Storey and Georgi Larby.
Luke Nguyen's United Kingdom starts Thursday 14 May 2015 at 8pm on SBS ONE and finishes 2 July 2015. Visit the Luke Nguyen's United Kingdom website to catch-up on episodes online, scroll through recipes or find out more about the show.