Reenactment Foodstuff

In my Bon Appetite magazine from last month, I found a recipe for "beef pasties" -- that classic portable pastry lunch from the 1700s -- and since I was interested in having something a little different for lunch today, I decided to try out my own version. The Bon Appetite recipe was fancier, using sliced skirt steak, blue cheese, and white wine, but since I only had ground beef and potatoes on hand, I made a "simple" recipe with basic ingredients -- beef, onions, garlic, potatoes, salt and pepper. I looked online and found all sorts of "pasty" recipes, so I just made up my own filling and they've turned out pretty tasty! The outer pastry appeared to be a basic pastry. Nothing too difficult about it.

After making them up, they reminded me a great deal of some little pasties that a friend had made for her family to munch on at reenactments. They were smaller than mine turned out, but that would be an easy fix for the future, and it seemed a perfect little idea for reenactment quick eats to heat up and carry along to watch the battle. It's also good for husbands who want a meaty meal for lunch.

Edited to add the recipe I used (keep in mind, my recipes tend to be "a dash of this and a dash of that" so feel free to edit to suit your own taste)...

Pastry (from Bon Appetite Magazine, March 2009, page 93):
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 c white whole wheat flour
  • 1-1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c solid veg shortening, frozen (I didn't freeze mine)
  • 1/2 c child unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 7 Tbsp (or more) ice water
Blend both flours and salt in processor 5 seconds. Drop in shortening by tablespoonfuls. Cut in until coarsely diced. Add butter. Cut in until coarse meal forms. Transfer to bowl. Add 7 tablespoons ice water. Toss with fork until moist clumps form, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dry. Gather dough into ball; divide into 4 equal pieces (these make 9" long pasties; divide into more pieces if you want smaller ones). Shape each into a quick disk; wrap and chill at least 45 minutes to 1 day.

Filling (this is the one I made up):
  • 1 c finely chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic (or none...your preference) chopped fine
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 small potatoes (I used small Idaho potatoes), peeled and diced into 1/4" pieces or smaller.
  • 2 cubes beef bullion
  • 1 c water
  • Salt or seasoned salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Dash of Worcestershire Sauce, or to taste
  • 1 large egg white, beaten to blend.
In a medium-hot skillet with a few tablespoons of olive oil, brown the onions. Don't carmelize them...just cook them long enough to get soft and nicely browned. (Side note: I cook my onions until very soft, because Keith doesn't like the texture of onions. If you enjoy the flavor and texture of onions, you may want to add your onions after the beef is browned.) I lowered my heat to cook them slower after I put them in, and it took about 20 minutes. When they looked close to being done, I dropped in the garlic and let the garlic flavors release (for about 5 minutes). Pour onions and garlic into a separate bowl and reheat the skillet to medium heat and brown the beef. When the beef is just about finished browning (it's ok if there's a bit of pink; it's going to keep cooking), add the potatoes, the bullion, water, salt, and pepper. Stir all together and let simmer for about 5 minutes or until the potatoes just start to get soft. Add the Worcestershire and let cook for a minute more. Take off the heat and let it cool. You can make this one day ahead and just stick the mixture in the refrigerator. This recipe will probably make more than you need to fill your pastries.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Roll out each disk between sheets of parchment paper to about 3/8" thickness (or the thickness of any pie pastry). If you're only making 4 large pasties, roll them out to 9" diameter. Try to have has symmetrical a circle as you can get. Fill half of each round leaving 1" plain border. If you want to add chese, sprinkle it over the top. Brush dough border with egg white, and using the bottom parchment as an aid, fold the other side of the dough over the filling. Seal the edges. Fold the sealed edge over a second time; press with fork to double-seal.

Brush each pastry with egg white and cut 3 slits in the top crust. Bake on baking sheets until crust is golden brown and filling is heated through -- about 30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, serve, and enjoy!


daughter-mother-sister-wife said...

I'd love to see the recipie for what you did (not the fancy one). These look delcious and I'd like to try them.

Lauren said...

You and Sarah, both, have yummy recipes on your blogs. I want to come to your house next. Tee Hee!

Whim said...

These look so much like the popular Nebraska food "runzas"!. It's especially interesting you chose ground beef & potato, because that seems to be the basic "flavor" - I think cabbage is added too. Our son went to college at UNL and took us out for runzas when we came to visit him.