I asked Mike the Viking what item he wanted to cook from Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain, and he spent about five seconds flipping through maybe six or seven pages before slamming his massive, grizzled, hideous finger down onto the page and snarled “PASTIES.”
I glanced over his shoulder and was all, nope. There was something off about it, and I’ll get to that in a minute, but before I said anything to him and as I looked up at him, I realized I should just let it happen. Let this be a lesson to you: Sunday is the one that knows how to make meatpies. Not Jamie Oliver. Not Mike the Viking. Sunday.
Problem the first: I cannot find a fucking skirt steak to save my life. I mean, I tried two stores and gave up and used a flat iron steak, which is my go-to steak. I even researched Cornish pasties online to see what other meat works, and all of them were like “Guuurl, you have to use skirt steak.” Whatever. But shit! I am trying to follow my personal rule of making the recipe exactly as printed for an accurate review, but in this instance it is not happening.
So the thing is that the filling is not cooked first. My eyes zeroed in on this and my hands started twitching in a feeble shadow effort to saute the onions at the very goddamn least, but no. We are not doing that this time. We are FOLLOWING THE FUCKING RECIPE. I make the pastry, which has no resting time and no instructions to keep cold, and here is my now second violation of the Prime Directive: I put the pastry dough into the fridge while I do other stuff.
This proportion looks terrible. It is all watery vegetables and maybe 10% meat bits, and an entire raw onion that the Viking will almost certainly beat me for. And that is a gargantuan pile of filling! I laughed aloud at the epic heap and how it was supposed to become only six pasties.
I did not take photos of rolling the dough into six individual rounds, nor folding those rounds over atop the TRULY HILARIOUS AND BY HILARIOUS I MEAN GENUINELY FRUSTRATING mounds of filling. They weigh a pound each, easy. I crowded them onto one tray because despite loving our dear oven Vader, he is not great at baking two trays of anything at once. I did not want to handle the pastry hardly at all since it is literally almost 50% butter, so the crimped edges are very sloppy. I didn’t give a shit. This was going to be a miserable failure that for some reason I found satisfying, because I don’t know why. Because any fool can look at those and deduce that nothing good will come of it. There aren’t even vents cut into them.
I need to let out a very long sigh here. Or better yet, let’s get disapproving Sunday back:
Because these are fucking excellent. The pastry is crisp and thin and flaky and shattery and salty and rich. The filling, which simply defies all logic, is soft and so very flavorful, just a masterpiece of both satisfying comfort and understatement. It should not taste as good as it does, but it does.
This is clearly a Master Recipe, in the sense that my mind went breakneck to the next version: curry chicken thighs with peas and cauliflower. Lamb with parsnips, carrots and mint.
We tried another one almost an hour later, still warm but closer to room temperature, and it was doubly as good as the first one. They’d settled and mellowed and evened out even more, and I didn’t make it out of the kitchen to eat my half, I stood over the sink and let the waterfall of pastry shards rain down.
Jamie Oliver, you bastard.
Early Autumn Cornish Pasties
from Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain, paraphrased but otherwise unchanged by Anger Burger
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
8oz (two sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tsp. sea salt
3/4 cup ice water
12oz skirt steak (I used flat iron)
1 white onion, chopped
1 white potato, peeled and chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
7oz butternut squash, peeled and chopped (probably just the neck of the squash)
1/4 fresh whole grated nutmeg
2 big springs fresh thyme
1 big sprig fresh rosemary
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 beaten egg
- Begin by making the pastry. In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt together, and using your thumbs and forefingers, rub the cubes of butter together quickly in the flour until all the pieces are broken down. Add the ice water and quickly mix it up and press the dough together into a big wad. Do not overwork the dough. Add a splash more water if there is a lot of dry flour in the bottom of the bowl still. Transfer the dough to a large sheet of plastic wrap and use the wrap to form the dough into a compact patty. Place in fridge.
- Cut the steak and veggies all to 1/3 inch pieces. In a large bowl, toss the steak and veggies with the nutmeg, herbs, salt, pepper and a few glugs of olive oil. Set aside.
- Heat oven to 400°. Line one or two baking sheets with parchment.
- Cut the pastry into six equal portions for big giant pasties, and 12 portions for smaller ones. On a flour-dusted surface, roll the dough out to the thickness of a quarter, about 8″ for large portions and 4″ for small ones. Heap the middle of the pastry rounds with a lot of filling – if you don’t mind dirtying a thousand dishes, it is actually helpful to pre-proportion the filling so you get an idea of how much goes in each pasty, just use measuring cups to portion it out as evenly as possible. It will be a struggle to get the dough over the pile of filling, but you must persevere. Seal the edges first by folding them up around the pasty, then by pressing the edges with a fork. Transfer to the baking sheet (this is easiest done by forming the pasty on a sheet of plastic wrap, then turning the whole thing upside down in one hand, peeling the plastic wrap off the bottom and dropping the pastry onto the baking sheet) and brush with beaten egg. Bake 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.