Gordon loves cooking and experimenting with food. He loves making new dishes, particularly with unusual or underused ingredients.
What Is a Pasty?
A pasty is any pastry-wrapped filling that has been baked until crisp and golden. Many people are familiar with Cornish pasties, which is understandable because they are perhaps the most famous type of pasty. However, it is important to know that there is virtually no limit to what you can incorporate in a pasty. While a traditional Cornish pasty normally contains beef, potato, and swede (rutabaga), it is possible to include other meats, vegetables, and a whole host of different ingredients, as well.
This article will look at 10 different potential pasty fillings in an attempt to show just how versatile the whole pasty concept can be. There really are no limits to this wonderfully flexible food creation, from the most robust meaty feasts to entirely vegetarian-friendly options.
Are Store-Bought Pasties Any Good?
Every major supermarket in the UK, as well as most butcher's shops, baker's shops, village stores and more, will sell pasties of one type or another. I bought this beef and onion pasty (above) solely for the purpose of featuring it as an example in this article. It was revolting! The pastry was perhaps not too bad, but the mushy, slimy, battleship-grey "beef and onion" filling was grossly over-seasoned with pepper and similarly under-seasoned with salt. The baked beans and HP Sauce were a vain attempt to make it edible.
The cost of this pasty? It was on "special offer," for £1, or about U.S. $1.50, which was probably about four times as much as it cost to make and many times more than it was worth.
It is important to point out that not all supermarket pasties will provide such a distasteful eating experience, but hopefully, this article will prove that the best pasties, and those that represent the best value for money, are those that you make yourself at home, designed to suit your tastes and those of your family. Why not give them a go?
Let's Begin With a Basic Recipe
The pasty filling recipes in this article are extremely varied, but the assembly technique and cooking times are the same in each instance. It makes sense, therefore, to cover this at the beginning and only once before looking at specific fillings and serving suggestions.
Note about pastry: I use puff pastry for my pasties, whereas many pasties are traditionally made with shortcrust. This is down to personal preference and a belief that puff pastry is much better suited to producing pasties of any type. The shortcrust pastry could, of course, be substituted where desired.
Basic Cornish Pasty Recipe
Prep time: 15 min Cook time: 35 min Ready in: 50 min Yields: 1 pasty
- Plain or all-purpose flour for rolling the pastry
- 8 ounces puff pastry, store-bought
- Filling of choice (see ideas below)
- 1 egg, beaten
- Butter, for greasing the baking tray
- Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Lightly flour a rolling pin as well as a clean, dry surface. Roll out the pastry evenly to a square of just over 13 x 13 inches.
- Use a large dinner plate as a template (13-inch diameter) to cut a circle in the pastry. Discard the offcuts.
- Carefully spoon the pasty filling of your choice onto one half of the pastry, leaving a border of just over 1 inch at the edges. Never overfill a pasty—it will simply burst in the oven.
- Dip a pastry brush into the beaten egg and lightly glaze the edges of the pastry.
- Fold the empty half of the pastry over the top of the filling and crimp the edges to seal.
- Grease a baking tray with a little butter and gently lift the pasty onto the tray with a large spatula.
- With the pastry brush, glaze the pastry all over with a more beaten egg. Make a slit of about 1 inch in the top to allow steam to escape during cooking.
- Put the pastry into the oven for 35 to 40 minutes until the pastry is beautifully golden.
- Once out of the oven, leave the pasty to rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
Photo Guide: Basic Recipe
10 Pasty Filling Ideas
In this article, I will show you how to make the following fillings for pasties:
- The Big Breakfast Pasty: Sausage, Bacon, and Tomato
- Turkey, Sage, and Onion Pasty With Cranberry and Port Sauce
- Beef Steak Pasty With Baked Beans and Pickle
- Vegetarian Cheese, Pickle, and Onion Pasty
- Spicy Pork and Pineapple Pasty
- Haggis and Clapshot Pasty
- Vegetarian Sweet Potato and Parsnip Pasty
- Simple Chicken Curry Pasty
- Irish Stew Pasty With Lamb and Root Vegetables
- Cheeseburger Pasty With Pickles, Relish, and Fries
1. The Big Breakfast Pasty: Sausage, Bacon and Tomato
A pasty—for breakfast? Yes, why not? Think simply of the paste of the pasty as an alternative carb to the more popular toast, fried bread, fried potatoes, or hash browns. This idea even makes the preparation of a traditional fried breakfast simpler. The pasties can be prepared the day before, cooled, and refrigerated. They are then simply placed in a moderate oven for 15 to 20 minutes and left unattended to reheat while you only have the black pudding, egg, and reduced number of other accompaniments to prepare and fry.
- 4 beef link sausages
- 3 rashers unsmoked back bacon
- 1 (8-ounce) can chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- 2 slices black pudding
- 8 to 10 small mushrooms
- 4 tablespoons baked beans in tomato sauce
- 2 eggs
- Fry the sausages and bacon and allow them to cool. Do not prick the sausages; merely add them to a frying pan with a little oil and cook over very low heat. Cook gently in this way for 20 minutes, turning occasionally.
- Transfer the cooked sausages to a plate and fry the bacon in the same pan for about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to the same plate as the sausages, cover, and leave to cool completely.
- In a pot, add the canned tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, then simmer gently for around 10 minutes to reduce. This will leave you with a lush and thick sauce for your pasty. Cover the pot and allow the tomato sauce to cool.
- Chop each cooled sausage into 4 pieces at a 45-degree angle. Cut off any rind and the excess fat from the bacon, and cut each rasher in half. Lay the bacon on the pastry first, followed by the sausage pieces, before spooning on the tomato sauce. Fold, crimp and bake.
- While the pasty is resting, use the time to fry the black pudding, mushrooms, and eggs. Heat the baked beans in a saucepan.
2. Turkey, Sage and Onion Pasty With Cranberry and Port Sauce
Are you one of the millions who think turkey is only for Thanksgiving or Christmas? While this pasty could be enjoyed as a very tasty alternative for a celebration dinner, it is equally enjoyable at any time of year.
- Vegetable oil, for cooking
- 8 ounces diced turkey breast
- 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
- Salt and white pepper, to taste
- 1 pint fresh chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon cranberry and port sauce
- 12 baby potatoes
- 4 ounces green beans, trimmed
- Add a small amount of oil to a nonstick saucepan. Quickly brown and seal the turkey pieces.
- Add the onion, sage, and chicken stock. Bring to a gentle simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover, and leave for at least 1 hour to cool completely. Assembling the pasty with a hot filling will spoil the pastry.
- Using a slotted spoon, lay the turkey and onion filling onto the rolled pastry before spooning the cranberry and port sauce on top. Fold and crimp before placing in the oven.
3. Beef Steak Pasty With Baked Beans and Pickle
This will perhaps seem like a curious combination to many people. I can't actually take the credit for this idea as it is based on a type of pasty I bought (on several occasions) from a small baker's shop near the harbour in Bowmore (on the Isle of Islay, off Scotland's west coast) a few years back. The pasties were absolutely delicious, and this is my own version.
- Vegetable oil, for cooking
- 6 ounces stewing beef or steak
- 1 pint homemade beef stock
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons baked beans in tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon fine-cut sandwich pickle
- 2 portions homemade chips
- Add a small amount of vegetable oil to a pot and quickly brown and seal the beef over high heat.
- Season the beef with salt and pepper and pour in the beef stock. Simmer for about 1 hour or until tender. The specific time will vary significantly, depending on the type of meat you use. Ask your butcher for advice if you are not sure. Turn off the heat, cover and leave to cool.
- Drain the cooled beef and use your fingers to tease the pieces apart slightly before laying them on the pastry.
- Spoon on the beans, ensuring you do not include too much of the liquid tomato sauce.
- Add the pickle last before folding and baking the pasty.
4. Vegetarian Cheese, Pickle and Onion Pasty
Cheese and pickle of many different types is a fabulous combination, with onion frequently thrown into the mix. This pasty filling is also the perfect vegetarian alternative to the beef and pickle option above.
- 4 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
- 1/2 small white onion, finely chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon fine-cut sandwich pickle
- 12 baby new potatoes, washed and left unpeeled
- Sea salt, to taste
- Butter, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
- In a small bowl, add the cheese and onion. Season with black pepper. Mix together well.
- Lay the cheese and onion filling on the rolled pastry disc. Spoon on the pickle. Fold and crimp the pasty for baking.
- Simmer the potatoes in boiling water for 30 minutes or until soft. Drain them and return them to the pot with a little butter and the dill. Swirl gently and plate with the pasty.
5. Spicy Pork and Pineapple Pasty
Apple is perhaps the fruit most associated with pork, but pork also goes very well with pineapple. A little bit of heat in the form of dried chillies gives this particular pasty an extra little twist.
- 1/2 pound diced leg of pork
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 small onion, peeled, halved and finely sliced
- 1 pint fresh lamb stock (or chicken stock)
- 2 pineapple rings (canned in own juice)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
- 10 small new potatoes, washed and left unpeeled
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated