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Cornish Pasties

This savory Cornish dish is a delicious and filling meal wrapped in a portable pastry pocket — you don’t even need a fork!

November 16, 2017

The Cornish pasty is a traditional English pastry dish, coming from Cornwall in Western England. Historically, they were prepared as a lunch for workers in Cornwall’s tin mines, like the ones featured in Poldark. The edge of the pasties in those days were made much thicker to be used as a “handle” so that the mine workers could hold the pasty with their dirty fingers, eating the pasty and throwing away the edge of the crust.

Traditional recipes suggest wrapping uncooked meat and vegetables in the pastry, cooking everything at one time. I cook the filling first to allow its taste to be more intense. Serve them with a green salad for dinner, or enjoy by themselves as a snack.

Serves six.


  • 10 ounces of all-purpose flower
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 ounces of chilled butter, cubed
  • Ice water
  • Filling
  • 8 to 10 ounces steak, extra fat removed and finely chopped (not minced)
  • Salad or olive oil to cook
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium potato, skinned, chopped into small cubes, washed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon English mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish
  • 1 round tablespoon of all-purpose flour
  • 1 beef (stock) cube, combined with ¼ cup hot water 
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • MSG to taste (optional)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 egg, beaten with a pinch of salt, to glaze


Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. With your fingertips, or using a pastry blender, rub the butter into the flour lightly until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.

Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, into the flour mixture and mix the pastry until it becomes smooth. Wrap the pastry in aluminum foil and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

While the pastry cools, heat a nonstick frying pan and cook the chopped steak until any excess water comes out of the beef, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the water and remove the beef from the frying pan.

Set the beef aside.

Wipe down the frying pan and reheat with a little oil. Fry the onion for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook further, 1 minute. (This is just to soften the onion; you don’t want to brown it.) Add the potato and cook 2 to 3 more minutes.

Return the cooked beef to the frying pan. Add the mustard and horseradish, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more. Season to taste with salt, pepper and MSG.

Add the flour into the frying pan and stir well to ensure the filling is covered evenly with the flour. Add the beef stock mixture to the parsley. Stir until the filling thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and spread on a wide plate to cool it completely.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to about 1/6-inch thickness. Using a round cereal bowl (about 6-inch diameter) cut out the pastry to 6 round wrappers.

Spoon the one-sixth of filling into the center of each round wrapper. Moisten the edge of the wrapper with a little egg. Fold over and pinch the edges to make a frill. Repeat for the rest.

Glaze the pasties with egg and cook in the preheated oven at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until pasties become golden brown. 

Top image credit: Kathryn Yengel, Flickr Creative Commons