For those in the know, pasties are about as Midwest as it comes. A special shoutout should go to all the folks in Michigan, particularly in the Upper Peninsula, who tout these hand pies as a traditional staple of the state. Lesser known is the fact that these little bundles of joy originated across the pond, brought over by immigrant Cornish copper miners in the early 1800s. The pasty caught on quickly as a hearty, hot meal that miners could easily transport during a long workday underground. They’re just as relevant and satisfying today for long days in the tree stand or ice hut.
This recipe is a fairly classic meat-and-potato version, but I kicked it up a notch with curry powder and a slightly spicy herb chutney for dipping. I used some gifted bear fat for the dough, but store-bought pork lard works nicely too. These bad boys will 100% warm the belly and the soul when you dive into the classic one-hand meal.
Time to make
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup bear fat or pork lard, room temperature
¾ cup of cold water
1 tbsp. sherry vinegar
2 tsp. coarse salt
2 tbsp. ground wild mushroom powder, optional
1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp. of milk for the egg wash
1 lb. ground venison
2 cups potato, diced
1 cup rutabaga, peeled and diced
1 cup carrot, diced
1 cup yellow onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
¼ cup garlic, minced
1 tsp. coarse salt
1½ tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. curry powder
2 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup Greek or whole-fat yogurt
1 lemon, juiced
1 lime, juiced
1 bunch cilantro, including stems
1 package fresh mint
½ serrano or jalapeño pepper, seeded
1 tbsp. honey or maple syrup
Pinch of salt
Also works with
- Make the dough. In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour, mushroom powder, and salt. Add the fat and mix with your hands until the mixture resembles small crumbles. Whip the egg and vinegar together with a fork, add to the dough mixture, and work it with your hands until combined.
- At this point, you can either add the water with a standing mixer or add it into the bowl and mix by hand. If you choose to mix by hand, add the water to the bowl and work it into the mixture until the dough comes together. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead the dough with both hands until it’s smooth and well combined. If you choose to use the mixer, simply add the water into the other ingredients and mix on low speed with the dough hook until the pasty dough is smooth. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, press it down and refrigerate for at least two hours. I would suggest making the dough the night before. Doing so makes this recipe come together with less hassle.
- Add the diced potato and rutabaga to a small pot with cold water. Season the water lightly with salt and bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer until just the veggies are just fork tender. Immediately drain and place in the refrigerator to cool.
- Make the filling. In a sauté pan on high heat, add 1 tbsp. of oil. When the pan is hot, add the ground venison. Season with salt, pepper, curry powder, and brown the meat. Remove the venison from the pan and set it aside to cool. Add the rest of the oil to the pan. Pour in the carrot, celery, onion, garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the onion is translucent. Cool down the vegetables and combine them with the potato, rutabaga, and venison. Check the seasoning for taste and set the filling aside.
- Split the dough into six even portions and shape them into balls. Roll out each piece into a round shape on a lightly floured surface until they reach a thickness of ¼ to ⅜ of an inch. On one half of the dough, add roughly 1 cup of filling with a tablespoon of butter on top. Brush the outer edge of the filling-side of the dough with water. Fold the dough over the filling and began sealing the pasty. Start on one corner and roll over the edges. Press down every ½ inch until you’ve sealed the pasty. Pinch the ends.
- Place the pasties spaced slightly apart on a baking sheet with parchment paper. I fit three pasties per small baking sheet or two in a large cast-iron pan. Brush each pasty with the egg wash and slice slits in the center to allow steam to escape. Cook the pasties at 375 degrees for 60 to 70 minutes or until crispy and golden brown. You can also freeze the ready-made pasties for baking later. They freeze and thaw great.
- While the pasties are baking, add all of the chutney ingredients to a blender and purée until nice and smooth. Add a little cold water if the chutney is too thick and not quite coming together. Once the pasties are done, serve piping hot with chutney on the side.