I don’t usually diverge from a traditional Cornish pasty. The subject of variations in pasty fillings is a tricky one for a Cornish person, as we are a patriotic lot. Even with so many options available now, most people I know are staunch traditionalists. But I’ve asked around and found a few who will admit that a steak and stilton pasty is acceptable. And, when pushed, they even agreed that it’s delicious. This combination works so well; the blue cheese and steak are perfectly balanced to make you savour every bite.
If you’re proper Cornish, use a good Cornish blue cheese, but other cheeses will work too—a nice bitey cheddar or even parmesan will taste great.
WHAT YOU NEED
400 g (14 oz) onions
280 g (10 oz) old floury potatoes, such as desiree, sebago, maris piper or king edwards
280 g (10 oz) leeks, white and green parts
800 g (1 lb 12 oz) skirt or chuck steak
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
1 quantity Lard shortcrust pastry
18 g (2/3 oz/3 teaspoons) fine salt
6 g (1/₅ oz/2 teaspoons) freshly ground black pepper
320 g (11 ½ oz) stilton or other blue cheese
WHAT TO DO
Peel and roughly chop the onions. Scrub and roughly chop the potatoes. Cut the leek into 1 cm (½ in) slices. Don’t worry about perfectly diced veg here—the housewives of Cornwall never did. Cut the beef into 1 cm (½ in) dice.
Combine the vegetables, beef and thyme in a large bowl. Don’t season the mix until you are about to assemble the pasties. This is to avoid the salt drawing water out of the ingredients and creating a wet mess – you want that moisture to come out during the baking, to create gravy inside the pasty.
Line two baking trays with baking paper. Put the pastry on a lightly floured kitchen bench and cut it into eight equal pieces, about 160 g (5½ oz) each. Roll each piece into a disc 20–22 cm (8–8 3/4 in) in diameter and 4 mm (⅛ in) thick – don’t worry about getting perfect circles.
Add the salt and pepper to the beef mixture and mix thoroughly. Divide the filling between the pasty rounds—roughly 200 g (7 oz) of filling for each—placing it on the top half of each pastry disc, leaving a 2 cm ( in) border around the top edge for crimping. Crumble 40 g (1 oz) of the blue cheese over the filling.
Lightly brush the pastry border at the top with egg wash, then fold the bottom half of the pastry over the filling so that it meets the pastry on the other side. Push out any air pockets and cup your hands over the top to bring it all together tightly. Crimp the edges together with your thumb and forefinger to form a rope-like seam along the side of the pasty. Patch any holes with a little dampened rolled-out pastry. As you finish each pasty, place it on the lined trays, leaving a 5 cm (2 in) gap between them so they bake evenly. Lightly brush the top of the pasties with egg wash, then cut a slit in the tops to allow the steam to vent while baking. Put in the fridge to cool, or freeze some to bake another day.
To bake the pasties, preheat the oven to 190 C (375 F). Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven to 160 C (320 F). Bake for a further 50 minutes, turning and swapping the trays halfway through, until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. The filling will be very hot, so let them rest for at least 10 minutes before eating.