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Cooking with Pasties

October 3, 2009

I have recently joined in on a weekly Top Chef contest.  The food is always  completely fabulous, the company is even better.  This has been a delightful addition to my midweek activities, and I wanted to share the idea with all you Top Chef enthusiasts.  What would we do without Bravo, really?

Eight of us meet up on Wednesday nights.  We prepare our food beforehand.  Plating begins at 9:45pm, and Top Chef begins at 10:00pm.  Each week features a different theme, decided upon by the former week’s champion.  This past Wednesday, the theme was nuts and berries. 

At some point during the week, when I was feeling chilly and hungry, I happened upon THIS ARTICLE on NPR.org about Pasties.  I know what you’re thinking, but these pasties are edible.  Wait, that didn’t read right either.  Okay, allow me to explain.   In the cold winter months, miners living in Michigan’s upper peninsula area (referred to as ‘Yoopers’) like to have something hot, savory, and filling in their hands the minute they take their lunch break.  Pasties fulfill all of these qualifiers, as hand-held meat-filled pies.  I thought this concept was just darling, and I knew fruits and nuts would only add to the pasties seasonal appeal. 

I arrived a couple minutes late, but still in time to plate my dish and hear all the presentations. One brave chef brought stuffed poblano chiles with pork, berries, and a walnut cream sauce.  Someone else brought a drink: nuts and berries.  Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur), raspberry liqueur, and heavy cream on ice.  These drinks went down quickly and easily.     Another contestent was inspired by PB and J, and presented a nut-encrusted halibut topped with strawberries.  The landslide winner were thick, creamy peanut butter logs, encased in chocolate, blanketed by a tangy homemade raspberry sauce.  This same person also offered a nut-encrusted eggplant topped with cranberry and chive chutney.  The clear champion.  My pasties came in a respectful third, mainly because the meat-to-crust ratio disproportionately favored the crust, which albeit flaky, was too heavy to be completely successful.  My original idea was to use almond flour, but did you know almond flour is like $12 per small bag?!  I had already spent all my money on the locally raised ground lamb for the pasty’s innards, I wasn’t about to break the bank over some almond flour too. 

We eat our food during the show, and after it’s over, we vote.  Some of us explain in detail our personal experiences with each other’s dishes, some just give their numbers and move on.  Our rating system:  3 points to the dish with the best all-around flavor, 2 points to the item with the best concept.   Our reigning champion has chosen another season-inspired theme for next week’s contest:  Winter squash prepared 2 ways.   Can Gourmet Grrl sucessfully manipulate squash into a thing of beauty and win the medal?  Stick around shewhoeats and find out. . .   Either way, I know I’ll eat well. 

Third Place She Who Eats Pasties (makes 4)

Crust – 2 cups flour, 3/4 cup vegetable shortening, dash of salt, 1/2 a cup cold water

Combine flour, salt, and vegetable shortening and water.  Knead until you can make four balls.  Wrap the dough balls in plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes or so.  Lightly coat them in flour and pat them into pancakes. 

Filling- 1/2 pound ground lamb, 1/2 cup roasted pine nuts, 1/2 cup dried  cranberries, 1/2 cup onions, 2 cloves garlic, 1 diced sweet potato, coriander, rosemary, dollop of Pickapeppa Sauce (or worcester), 1/2 cup red wine, 1 or 2 tbln balsamic vinegar, olive oil

Roast pine nuts in olive oil for 3-5 minutes on medium.  Preheat oven at 400 degrees.

Saute lamb with garlic, and most of the onions.  Add salt, pepper and rosemary, liberally.  Cook for just a few minutes until pink in the middle. Add red wine, Pickapeppa Sauce, a tbspn balsamic, simmer for just a minute. 

Separately, saute diced sweet potato with more diced onion and coriander powder.

Take spoonfuls of meat, sweet potato, nuts and fruit and place it on each flour pancake.  Then fold into half-moons.  Make sure the pie is completely sealed on all sides.  Brush with beaten egg yoke, if desired.   Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.

Best eaten by hand, wearing mittens.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 4, 2009 8:48 am

    oh wow, this is so awesome! if i were a better cook i’d demand to be let in on the fun!

  2. October 5, 2009 12:31 pm

    I love your blog. I live in wilmington but try to get to asheville as much as possible. Your blog makes me love it even more.

  3. thedj permalink
    October 5, 2009 12:41 pm

    Meat pies for Michiginers, nice! I’m looking forward to hearing about your squash dish GG.

  4. October 5, 2009 12:41 pm

    Wow, thanks for the blog love guys! Keep reading and keep those comments coming.

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