Inspired by Cornish Pasties, this savory herbed Beef Pasty Recipe features meat and vegetables in a flaky, buttery crust. It’s the perfect portable meal, and surprisingly easy to make!
There are some TV shows that I just don’t expect to get into.
Gotham was like that for me (Batman really isn’t my thing, but oddly enough I felt compelled to not miss an episode), and Downton Abbey was as well.
A couple years ago when a friend first recommended Downton Abbey to me, she basically described it as a glimpse into the life of people living and working on an estate in the English countryside in the first half of the 1900’s. She laughed as she assured me that it was a lot more interesting than it sounds.
And she was completely right.
It’s hard to put into words what it is about Downton Abbey, but that show is seriously addictive. Maybe it’s the costumes that were à la mode back in the day. Or maybe it’s the setting. (Who wouldn’t want the chance to snoop around a huge manor and visually take in the breathtaking English countryside?) Or it could be the fancy accents, the complex character development, or even the food. (Mrs. Patmore looks to be one heck of a cook!)
Whatever it is, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be hooked by the end of the first episode you watch. With the 5th season airing on Sunday, I had to make some British fare to celebrate!
What is a Cornish Pasty?
Cornish Pasties are basically hand-held meat pies. The typical meat and vegetable filling usually contains beef, potato, swede (aka rutabaga), and onion. It’s seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked in a shortcrust pastry. The raw filling (yes, raw meat!) is placed in the center of a raw pastry circle. The dough is folded over, wrapping the filling, and the edge is crimped to seal the pasty.
As the story goes, they were a hearty, portable, and cheap lunch for mine workers in Cornwall. Pasties were eaten by the poor working class, so they’re something you’d find in the servants’ hall downstairs rather than the family’s dining room on Downton Abbey. But they are absolutely delicious and pretty perfect for munching on while watching TV. (You can read more about pasties on Wikipedia.)
The European Union awarded the Cornish Pasty “protected geographical indication” status. Meaning, only pasties prepared in Cornwall using the traditional recipe can be called Cornish Pasties. Read more about authentic Cornish Pasties here.
Traditional Cornish Pasties and a Few Non-Traditional Pasty Fillings
The first time I had pasties was in London, so I was lucky to get to enjoy authentic Cornish Pasties.
I sampled a traditional pasty with beef, potato, and onion simply seasoned with salt and pepper in a gorgeously golden pastry. I also tried a couple modern flavors: a Chicken Tikka Masala Pasty, as well as a bite of my friend’s Philly Cheesesteak Pasty, and a bite of another friend’s Potato Leek Pasty.
As you can imagine, no matter the filling, pasties are wonderful comfort food.
What Type of Pastry Are Pasties Traditionally Made From?
According to the Cornish Pasty Association, traditional Cornish Pasties have a shortcrust pastry that’s made with a combination of lard and butter.
Beef Pasty Recipe
My Beef Pasty Recipe isn’t authentic! But it sure is delicious, and easier to make than you might think.
I don’t eat pork products, so I skipped the lard in the shortcrust and made an all-butter pastry crust. The flaky golden butter shortcrust encompassing the savory filling is absolute perfection!
For the filling in my Beef Pasty Recipe, in addition to beef and onion, I added carrot, parsnip, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, and Worcestershire sauce for seasoning. (I love the flavor of Worcestershire in Beef Pasties!) As long as you keep the amounts the same, you can swap out the carrot and parsnip for any veggies you like, such as turnip or potato.
What to Serve with Beef Pasties
Well, technically a pasty is a portable full meal in itself! However, if you want to serve something with them, here are a few ideas:
- Beer and Cheese Cauliflower Soup
- Simple Spinach Salad
- Creamy Coleslaw with Tart Cherries, Blue Cheese, and Toasted Walnuts
- Apple Walnut Rainbow Swiss Chard Salad
- Vegetable Soup
- Cream of Celery Soup
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Beef Pasty Recipe
- 3/4 pound raw beef steak I used sirloin, trimmed of fat and diced into 1/4-inch cubes
- 1 cup carrot diced into 1/4-inch cubes (about 2 medium or 1 very large carrot)
- 1 cup parsnip diced into 1/4-inch cubes (about 2 medium or 1 very large parsnip)
- 1 small onion diced small
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water (for eggwash)
- Pulse together the flour and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until it looks like coarse meal (the pieces of butter should be about the size of small peas). (Alternatively, this can be done by hand; whisk the flour and salt together in a large bowl, then cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or a fork until it looks like coarse meal.)
- Transfer the dough from the food processor to a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon water at a time, working the dough together with your fingertips just until it comes together, and only adding enough water so the dough comes together when you squeeze it.
- Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and place them in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.
- While the pastry dough chills, stir together all filling ingredients in a large bowl; set aside.
To Assemble the Pasties:
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat liners.
- Working with 1 ball of dough at a time, roll it out on a floured surface to a circle about 8 inches in diameter. Use a plate as a guide to trim the edges so you have a perfect circle.
- Spoon about 1/2 cup of filling into the center of the dough; lightly brush the edge of the dough with eggwash. Fold both sides of dough up over the filling and crimp the edges together in the center of to form a tight seal.
- Continue this way until 8 pasties are assembled, then if there is filling leftover, re-roll the dough scraps and continue making pasties until you run out of filling or dough (I usually get 9 pasties out of this recipe).
- Arrange the pasties onto the prepared baking sheets and lightly brush each with eggwash.
To Bake the Pasties:
- Bake at 400F for 15 minutes, rotating the trays once halfway through.
- Reduce the heat to 350F and bake until the crusts are golden brown, about 30 minutes more, rotating the trays once halfway through.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
- You can serve these pasties warm or at room temperature.
- To reheat, place them on a baking tray and heat in a 350F oven until warm throughout, about 10 to 15 minutes.
This post was first published on An Edible Mosaic on January 1, 2015. It was updated with more information on March 16, 2020.
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