Cornish pasties date back hundreds of years, possibly longer, in Cornwall in the United Kingdom. These pasties made their way to the copper mines of Michigan’s upper peninsula, a region where their still served in bakeries and food stores today. Various stories in cookbooks, regional history books and the web indicate miners’ wives would make the pasties for the men who would carry them into the mine in the front pocket of their bib overalls. For their mid-day meal, the pasty would be cooked over a headlamp on a cleaned shovel and eaten with the miners holding the crust with their dirty hands. The crusts would then be thrown away to appease the spirits of the mines.
I’ve tried a few pasties over the years, from Albie’s to King Arthur’s to pasties made by teams of volunteers for charitable fundraising. In early August in St. Ignace, Michigan, I should have known there would be pasties on the menu at the Galley Restaurant and would have taken my camera. But I flat-out forgot, and didn’t get a pic of the pasty I enjoyed there. I’ve yet to order any from Pasty Central though, but I do plan to.
So it was nice to find Nylund’s Pasties in the freezer case at the Country Market grocery in Adrian last week. Nylund’s are made in a plant in Crystal Falls, Michigan, near the upper peninsula’s border with Wisconsin. According a U.P. web site the plant sells the pasties themselves, and has bargains for cases of seconds. These pasties were only $1.99 at Country Market and at 12 oz each they’re quite a bargain anyway.
I let the pasties thaw through the day then put them in the oven at 350F for one hour as per the directions on the label. Gravy is a necessary addition to a pasty … to be creative but still not take so much time, I cheated and warmed up a jarred mushroom and beef gravy.
The one in the first photo is the Beef Pasty shown in the package below:
The ingredients are mostly simple, being listed as:
Ingredients: Filling; Potatoes, beef, carrots, onion, salt, black pepper. Crust; Unbleached flour, water, interesterified soybean oil, fully hydrogenated cottonseed oil, salt.
“Interesterified”? I had to look that one up: “… blending interesterified oils with liquid oils allows the reduction in saturated fatty acids in many trans fatty acid free food products.” Aha. Gotcha. Whatever …
Up until now the best pasties I’ve eaten have been the one from the Galley Restaurant, one from the fundraiser and King Arthur’s. Nylund’s drops King Arthur’s out of the top three for me. The filling is dense and fresh with a great balance of ingredients. Most of the time with a pasty you can taste the meat, the potato or rutabaga (a more popular filling ingredient), and little else. I actually tasted the carrot this time. The crust was beautifully flaky … prior to adding the gravy and shooting the top photo I had to clean a bit of crumbs and flakes off the plate.
Click here for a collection of pasty recipes compiled by a couple of people at Michigan Tech’s Humanities department on the Keweenaw Peninsula in the U.P.