Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Making Tasty Meaty Pasties

I cannot express just how glad I am to be back home for the summer, to be free of the stresses and time-consuming works of school! Just to have free time that I can spend without the knowledge that there is another assignment waiting for me around the corner. The only thing waiting around the corner that I have to deal with is my family, but I'll take them over essays and tests any day!

 Well, to segue into my main post topic... Earlier last week, out of the blue my mother (shown on the left) asked me to help her make pasties for dinner. They've become something that we eat every once in a while at the Alberti household ever since the first time I created them, entirely on my own, just after I first went to see the Sweeney Todd movie. While that movie probably made a lot of people sick to their stomachs, it just made mine rumble for delicious meaty pastry!

Those pasties had been a bit time-consuming to make, but they were just so delicious that all of us developed a taste for them. So this time around I was quite willing to participate in the pasty preparations, especially knowing that I wouldn't be the only pair of hands working on them.

Our glorious workstation
We began with the basics preparations of the two main components of the pasties - the filling and the dough. For the filling my mom busted out her special onion goggles and got to work peeling and finely chopping some onions, while I did the same for some potatoes (about 4) and carrots (2-3) - I especially like to make sure that these ingredients are chopped into very small pieces, since I don't like the thought of biting into my pasty just to hit a huge chunk of onion or carrot. We added celery to our last pasties, but not this time.

After we got all the veggies dealt with, my mom went off to make the dough whole I worked on crumbling the ground beef (about 1 pound, I think) very thoroughly and mixing it into the rest of the filling. If you want your pasties to all be equally portioned and equally delicious, it's important to make the mixture of ingredients as homogeneous as possible. After that was done, we added some parsley, salt and pepper to it.

Below are some pictures of the fully-prepared pasty filling.

 Once the dough and filling are all ready, the next step in pasty-making is to combine the two together! Now, what we've learned makes this step much easier, and also makes the pasties more uniform in size and shape, is to split your filling and dough into equally-sized portions before you do anything else.

So, we made ten approximately same-sized balls of dough...

...and ten as-equal-as-we-could-conceivably-make-them piles of filling. 

Finally, it's time to put the pasties together! We knew we'd need a lot of space to make ten pasties on, even just working on them one at a time, so we got out one of our largest cutting boards, and some flour to make it so that the pasty dough wouldn't stick to the board as we rolled it out.

the two of us hard at work

 My mom and I divided up the tasks as well as the ingredients - I rolled and pressed out the dough into flat circles...

(like the one shown here)
 ...while my mom filled them up with our meat-veg-spud mixture...

(like so)

...and folded them over, and finally closed up and crimped the edges.


And you finally come out with wonderful fully-formed pasties, all lined up and ready to be baked into golden, flaky, meaty and filling packets of delicious!

And after they are baked, you have beautiful pastry treats, ready to be consumed! They really are fantastic as a meal - if completed successfully, the crust is flaky and crisp, the filling is hot and flavorful, and altogether they are just mouthwatering and delectable. Here are some photos of the finished product, fresh from the oven and ready for dining:

Mm-mmm, tasty!

One pasty is usually filling enough to serve as a whole meal for one person, so when we cook them we double the batch, so that they can be eaten for dinner two days in a row. However, in this case I was impatient and ate my second pasty for brunch the next day - and boy was it good! I topped the pasty with two eggs sunny-side up, and the yolks oozed out all over the pasty and it was just... mind-meltingly good. If you make pasties, I heartily recommend you give that a try.

If you want to make pasties yourself, there are a lot of different recipes for making them available on the web. Just find one that seems most appealing to you in either ingredients or technique (or you can even take bits you like from several different recipes and mix and match what works best for you), and give it a go! Just don't use human meat (some people might object to that, like the police) or cat (probably stringy, and one cat probably won't hardly have enough meat for two pasties)

(also, they might be adorable enough to convince you not to eat them, like our Loki here)

 ... and don't forget about whatever pasties that you might have in the oven for three hours, like we did one time (thankfully, with only half our pasties in there). Unless you really love the taste of charcoal - in that case, you will enjoy them immensely.

So that is my pasty-making experience - I have quite a few other photos and experiences I want to share from the end of the school year and beginning of summer, and I plan to go on an art-creating bonanza to make up for not doing so much during the school year, so be sure to stick around!

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