Sunday, December 29, 2013
Thursday, December 5, 2013
I'm continuing my autumn pie-mania with a savory turn today: the Cornish pasty. I know, I know, it's past unofficial pie season and we're now in cookie season! But this pie lover thinks it should always be pie season. I also hope you enjoyed Thanksgiving as much as I did. We got to spend it with our families, which is a treat when you've spent as many Thanksgivings working in a newsroom as I have. And I started out stressed, thinking about all the things I could cook and bake and how to make everything perfect. Then I loosened up. My pumpkin pie looked imperfect. I helped Mom make the meal instead of interfering with the planning or trying to take over. I shrugged when the the table wasn't styled like a magazine spread. Because the whole family was together, and it was a darned good meal. A plentiful one. My dad suddenly bought lobsters, of all things, Thanksgiving morning. My brother went out and bought Italian cookies and a ricotta pie. "Gee, you think we have enough?" I asked them. And then we feasted.
Besides scaling them down, I adjusted the filling. The recipe doesn't call for cooking it before the pies go into the oven, but I figured beef and vegetables steamed in a crust can't taste as good as the pan-seared and sauteed variety. I put that to the test by making them two ways, and I was right. The uncooked filling was bland (though Joe was happy to polish those pies off), but the cooked filling was aromatic and full of flavor. The recipe, from Jamie Oliver's Great Britain, also included zucchini and butternut squash in the filling. I kept the ingredients closer to that of a traditional beef stew, and I didn't want watery squash or the trouble of dicing hard butternut anyway. Swap in whatever you like -- the recipe suggests peas, fava beans, or asparagus in spring.
I won't lie -- these are kind of a production. But worth it! Don't attempt the whole thing in one day. Make the dough one or two days ahead, the filling one day ahead or the day of. Give yourself time to roll and re-roll the dough and assemble the pasties. They can be fully assembled, frozen, and baked later. When done, reward yourself with a beer and a couple pasties. They'll make a great holiday party starter, or a hearty winter lunch.