Saturday, 8 December 2012

The Giant Cornish Pasty

There is no way that this dish is remotely authentic to any traditional Cornish recipe.

Firstly, I'm pretty sure that the filling is not supposed to be cooked before being placed inside the pastry.
Secondly, I'm fairly certain that you are not supposed to use puff pastry (ready-rolled or not).
Thirdly, I'm 99% convinced that the pasty is not supposed to contain parsnips.
Fourthly, I know for a fact that the pasty is not supposed to comfortably feed eight people.

Apart from that, this dish is 100% INCREDIBLE!!!

Last night, Mrs Ribeye and I decided that because it's winter, that we can eat baked goods every single day until May. Which means that last night's dinner of bread, Cornish pasty and mince pies was absolutely justified. Except that I went to bed feeling sick and woke up feeling sick. In fact, it is now 4.30pm and I am now fully recovered enough for me to raid the fridge for leftovers. Gotta love those winter nights (it is dark as hell out there bloody 4.30pm).

So why make such a massive pasty? Well, it could be because the filling-to-pastry ratio is that much higher than with individual serving sizes, or it could be because I couldn't be bothered to make fiddly little pasties. But the real reason, is that I love making big food. I suspect there might be a deep-rooted Freudian problem that needs urgently addressing...

Shin of beef is the absolute best cut for any beef stew. Don't bother with any other cut. It's cheap (£5 per kg), sinewy (which means big flavour) and ugly (which means, err cheap and err flavourful). You just need to brown it properly and cook it until the collagen in the sinews breaks down into a delicious gelatinous mush of beefy goodness.

I cook my filling first, because I like having a nice gravy with pasty, but I suppose you could use a more tender cut and do it the traditional way, by cooking the filling raw with the pastry. I wouldn't in a million years - whatever the Cornish Culture and Heritage Office have to say - because I reckon my way is way better.

The one thing that my dish and the traditional pasty have in common is the cost. This was always meant to be a cheap dish, and it really really is. £1.25 per serving.

Serves 8


1kg beef shin, cut into 3cm dice
2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into 1cm dice
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1cm dice
2 onions, peeled and cut into 1cm dice
2 tablespoons of plain flour
1 litre beef stock
1 tablespoon of dried thyme
2 bay leaves
Salt and black pepper (lots)
3 potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm dice
2 packs of ready-rolled puff pastry
1 egg yolk, beaten

In a large casserole pan, seal the meat in the oil on a blisteringly high heat until well browned. Add the vegetables, and allow to soften, then add the flour, stock, herbs and seasoning. Turn the heat to low and simmer for three hours, and then add the potatoes for a further 30 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool and with a slotted spoon drain off the gravy to be served with the pasty later. On a greaseproof papered baking sheet, lay one of the pastry sheets. Spoon the pasty filling over the pastry, leaving a 2cm border around the edge. Top with the other pastry sheet, crimp the edges tightly and glaze it with the egg yolk. Decorate it with small knife slits to allow steam to escape. Bake in a 180c oven for 1 hour. Allow to slightly cool before serving, to allow the pastry to firm up. Heat the reserved gravy and serve with the pasty.

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