First of all, let’s clear this up – for those unfamiliar with this delicious dish, it rhymes with “nasty” – pronounced the other way, it’s something burlesque dancers wear!

Secondly, it’s one of those fantastic dishes that can only come from humble, working class kitchens.  Pasties’ origins are in the Cornish tin mining community.  Miners’ wives would make a pie crust, stuff it with a cooked mixture of ground meat, potatoes and onions, fold it over and give it a good, thick crimp on the end so that the miners could eat it with dirty hands and just throw the crimped bit away. 

This version is a little jazzed, but it still fits the bill if you’re looking for a dish that will warm you up on a cold night!

Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Pasties

Crust:

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 5 Tbsp butter, frozen
  • salt
  • cold water

Filling:

  • 1 lb chicken (either cooked chicken breasts or leftover roasted chicken), cut into small pieces
  • 4 pieces bacon
  • glug olive oil, Tbsp butter
  • 3 leeks, halved lenthwise, then cut into 1/2″ widths
  • 1 1/2 cups mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2/3 cup cream
  • 1 heaping tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 heaping tsp grain mustard

In a large bowl, toss the flour and salt, then grate in the frozen butter, lightly rubbing in as you go.  When you’re finished, add the water a couple of tablespoons at a time, mixing as you go, just until it starts to come together and hold its shape when you squeeze the dough.   Form into 2  discs, wrap in plastic and chill while you make the filling.

Preheat oven to 375 F.  In a deep, wide pan, fry the bacon until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp.  Remove from the pan and drain on a piece of paper towel.  Drain off most of the bacon fat, but leave some in the pan.  Add a glug of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter and stir to mix.  When the pan is back up to the heat, add the leeks and thyme and cook until nearly soft, then add the mushrooms.  Cook for 5 minutes, then add the cooked chopped chicken, bacon, cream and mustards (I usually combine the cream and mustards in the measuring cup and mix thoroughly before pouring in the pan).  Stir to combine well and heat the cream through then taste for seasoning.   Remove from the heat and let cool while you roll out and cut the pastry.

Roll the pastry out to between 1/8- and 1/4-inch thickness and use a plate to form your circles of dough.  A 6″ saucer will give you 4 good pasties – an 8″ salad plate will give you 2 big pasties and one that’s about 1/3 the size.  You could always use a 4″ cookie cutter to make nice little nibbles for a party, as well.  Anyway, once you have the pastries rolled and cut, place the rounds on a lined baking tray.  Spoon the cooled filling in the middle – before you fold over the crust, dip your finger into some cold water and wet the edges of the dough – this will help it stick together.  Carefully fold the dough over and pinch the edges closed and crimp either using the tines of a fork or pinching with 2 fingers and your thumb.  Brush with egg wash (1 egg beaten with a dash of milk) and cook for about 30 minutes until golden.

Cornish Pasties - the original "hot pocket"

If you’re not up to making the pastry, cheat!  It’s no crime to use pre-made pie dough.  If you have some left-over stew, you can use it here, too.  Or, if you have some leftover roast, vegetables and gravy from your Sunday dinner – chop up the meat, mix it with the vegetables and a little gravy, and – YUM! – you’ve got a killer filling!

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