5 October 2010

Mushroom pasties in the bag

Pasties- rhymes with 'nasty'; pronounced paa-stees
Pasties are such a (southern) British food. They are basically a British pie folded in half for easy transport and snacking. But don't let the rhyming fool you because these are wonderfully hearty, filling and full of good things.
I cannot remember the first time I had a pasty, though there are small shops selling them practically in every train station so it could have been one of these. The pasty is now associated with Cornwall though probably had a wider area of provenance pre-1800 and can be traced to the middle ages. (This fact makes the medievalist in me squeal with delight.)

You can put practically anything in a pasty, which makes them incredibly versatile. For these particular pasties, I included chestnut mushrooms, onions, peas, walnuts and dill in a cream sauce, almost like a stronganoff. I also made these pasties to make use of some great seasonal ingredients, as highlighted by the 'In the Bag' event, hosted by Julia of A Slice of Cherry Pie and Scott of the Real Epicurean, two veteran British bloggers.

For the filling, I sauteed a lot of sliced chestnut mushrooms and a whole diced onion with butter until browned.

Fearing that the mushrooms weren't enough for the pasty, I added frozen peas into the mixture with the dill, salt and pepper. I actually added way too much pepper, but with the rich pastry crust it merely turned into a warming sensation and was ok. (whew)

You could easily just fill the pasties now, but I wanted more of a cream sauce so I added water and a touch of flour to thicken everything. After simmering until the water reduced, the filling mixture was about the consistency of thick gravy.

I then added about 3 tablespoons of sour cream/creme fraiche and kept stirring everything together over a low heat to thicken everything a tad more. You don't want watery or runny filling when it comes to pastry products.

For the crust, I made my trusty old pie crust recipe, rolled the dough out pretty thinly and cut two largish vaguely circular pieces.

I then spooned the filling into the center of the pastry circle and sprinkled chopped walnuts on mine. My fiancee does not like nuts, so his was sans walnuts, but I found that the subtle flavor and crunch was a nice contrast to the rest of the pasty. I don't usually add nuts into my cooking and I think it is an area that I have not explored enough.

Carefully, I folded the pastry into a half-moon shape over the filling and sealed with an egg yolk I happened to have (extraneous, but it does help) and pinched the edges to seal everything in.

The pasties baked for about 30 minutes in a moderately hot oven until the crust was done and lightly browned on the bottom.

Technically I suppose making a sandwich for lunch each day is easier, though pasties would freeze well I imagine and so when you are feeling industrious, you could easily make lots and lots of pasties for future lunches. Mushrooms tend to keep their flavor even when cold and for a lunch snack the next day, these pasties were wonderful. I will definitely be making these again!

1 comment:

  1. looks so yummy, I like mushrooms. thanks for posting this