While I was researching Cornish Pasties, I discovered that the former tin miners are a pretty defensive lot. They have the humble pasty protected under European legislation. By way of contrast, with their pasty protectionism, when the Duke of Wellington invented the Beef Wellington (I believe he carried a fillet steak and mushrooms into battle, hidden inside his left boot.), he didn’t say that the Beef Wellington couldn’t be prepared outside Ireland (for he was an Irishman). No, being both Irish and generous of spirit, he allowed anybody, anywhere prepare the now famous dish. By contrast with the complex and delicious Wellington, the humble pasty was originally some leftovers, wrapped in pastry, by a tin miner’s wife. So why, oh why, can one not prepare a Cornish Pastie anywhere outside Cornwall?
Given the complexity involved in chopping up a bit of beef and vegetables and then wrapping it in pastry, I can’t see the big deal. So I set about trying to understand the attraction. For fear of bringing the weight of the European Parliament down on my head, I decided that I should cook Dublin Pasties. These differ in a number of ways from the internationally protected Cornish gastronomic wonders. Firstly, I used a mix of pork, red onion, sweet potato and regular potato. They couldn’t sue me over the ingredients. Could they?
When everything is chopped, season well and mix.
The pastry is a very straightforward affair. Sorry, the pastry is unique and is handed down through generations. I believe it is authentic Cornish NOT.
- 500 grammes of white flour
- 120 grammes of lard
- 30 grammes butter
- A half teaspoon of salt
- 120 ml of water
Put everything except the water into the food processor and give it a lash until it is well combined and the mixer is jumping around the work surface.
Pour in some of the water until it combines into a pastry looking lump. Wrap it in cling film and leave it in the fridge for an hour. Check the perimeter of your property to ensure no Eurocrats or former tin miners have gained access to prevent you ripping off their culinary colossus. Roll out the pastry and use a small plate as a template for cutting out circles.
At this stage, I was wondering if the Cornish had a protection on the pastry too. Hopefully not. Spoon the mixture into the middle of the circles of pastry.
Add a knob of butter, in the same way as the Cornish do (risky, very risky). Fold towards the middle and pinch closed along the seam.
Side note on making seams in a piece of pastry: Whatever you do, DO NOT make the seam down the side. It would appear that Cornish tin miners (those paragons of the epicurious) used to stuff the pasties down their trousers and retrieve them, for an underground feast, with an arsenic tainted hand. (Arsenic was part of tin mining, from what I hear.) The canny chaps would hold the pasty by the folded edge and eat all bar the arsenicated crust. As a result, only the Cornish can make this fold. We must fold down the middle. It’s European law!
Being careful to not mimic the Cornish, I put the pasties together. An egg wash completes the process. The egg did not come from a Cornish Hen, which funnily enough, they have no protection over.
Perhaps I should apply to the European Commission to have the Dublin Pasty registered and protected? We could use the Ha’penny Bridge as our logo (In the same way that the Cornish built the Eden Project in the shape of a giant glass and steel pasty.). Into the oven with them for 20 minutes or until they turn a nice golden colour. Serve them with some traditional Dublin Guinness and some chutney. This chutney is made by the delightfully named ‘The Birds and the Teas’ and comes from County Wicklow.
My pasties may be rogue and unprotected. However, you can safely eat the crust and, in all honesty, the filling is more flavourful than I imagine the internationally protected version to be. So, until my application to the Eurocrats is passed and the Dublin Pasty is given the same protection as should have been afforded the Dodo, feel free to make it, wherever you live. Yes, even in Cornwall!