Chicken Pastry – My Cornish’ish Pasty
I was in England for the hols. It rained the whole bloody time. When this happens, don’t complain, just tuck in to something deeply gratifying to remove that bone dampening discomfort – it really works. When it rained in NY this weekend, I felt compelled to make that hand pie I ate all too often at school – Cornish Pasty. Cornish pasties come from Cornwall and unless you made them in your sweet little cottage over there, to you it’s just called pie my darling. They are made from steak, potatoes and swede (on this side of the pond, the closest you’ll get is rutabaga). These bits and bobs are tucked in to pastry and baked off until golden and delightful.
The dough used for this is a fuss-free short-crust. Just throw all ingredients in to a blender (except for the wet ingredients) and pulse until they look like tiny little pebbles. Then add a small amount of liquid. The dough should shaggily come together, visually you are aiming for the complete opposite to pizza dough. This is the stage where people lose faith in the dough and start adding more liquid or overwork it with their hands and start melting those little pebbles or over work the dough. Don’t DO THAT please. Take the somewhat dry looking lump, split it in to 4 portions and refrigerate immediately. The pay off for your trust is a pastry that allows the butter to melt in the oven and not on the hands, leaving you with the flakiest pastry.
As for the meat – in my house, we’re not big on steak, so instead I cooked off some ground chicken, dusted with flour and a splash of Worcester sauce for a clingy and luminescent gravy. Throw on some waxy potatoes so they hold their shape and tuck all this yumminess in to your short crust.
Recipe for Chicken Pasty
- 125g/4oz plain flour
- pinch of salt
- 55g/2oz butter, cubed
- 30-45ml/3 tbsp. cold water
- 1 egg
- ½ pound of ground chicken
- 1 small yellow onion
- 1 tbsp. tomato puree
- 1 tbsp. plain flour
- 5tbsp. Worcester sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Sprig of thyme or rosemary
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 medium-sized waxy potatoes, such as red bliss/ Yukon gold
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water
1) Throw the flour, salt and cubed butter in to the blender and pulse until they form small pebbles/ lentils. Add half the water and pulse until it starts to bind. If necessary, add the rest. Quickly gather the dough and work it a couple of times by hand quickly (now is not the time to zone out), make 4 portions shaped in to a disc, cover with cling film and refrigerate immediately for at least an hour
2) Now for the meat – sweat the onions until translucent. Add the chicken, salt and pepper and brown it to caramelize. Add the puree and herbs and cook for a couple of minutes to remove raw taste. Add a generous splash of the Worcester sauce and cook out to reduce. Pour in the water, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Cook down until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Set aside to cool off completely
Heat the oven to 400 degrees
3) Pull out one of the chilled dough packets. On a clean and dry surface, throw on a light sprinkling of flour and roll out the dough in to a circle don’t stress, (mine was more rectangular). No more than 5mm thick, compress the cooled meat mixture in to the center, throw on some thinly sliced boiled potatoes. Lightly brush the edges of the pastry with water and gather the edges, pinching together to fasten them shut.
4) Brush the upper surface of the pastry with egg wash and bake until golden – approx. 20 minutes
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