I was pleasantly surprised by all the wonderful comments I got for my blog entry about lard. It seems that lard is underappreciated in these modern times—maybe it’s due for a comeback. Anyway, lots of people asked for my mother’s pasty recipe, and here it is, just in time for the July 4th weekend. While traditionally pasties were made as lunches for miners or other workers, in our family they were always served at a summer picnic—with Heinz 57 ketchup, which now comes in an organic version. Our traditional accompaniment was pickled cabbage, but unfortunately I don’t have a good recipe for that…yet.
Ardie’s Pasties (Ardie is my mother—don’t try calling her anything else)
2½ cups flour (white or King Arthur White Whole Wheat)
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup, plus a dab, cold lard
1/3 cup (by feel) cold water (or more, maybe a lot more; your mileage may vary)
1 pound ground beef
4 peeled and cubed potatoes
½ onion, chopped
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
4 Tablespoons butter
A few dabs of milk
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
2. Mix all the dough ingredients together in a bowl, adding the water in small amounts until you have a nice, soft, and fully moisturized wad of dough. It should hold together well. No need to refrigerate.
3. Separate the dough into 4 balls (or however many you want—fewer if you want big pasties, more if you prefer them smaller).
4. On a floured surface roll out each dough ball. Add the ground beef, potatoes, onions, salt, pepper, and a generous dab of butter. Pull the dough up around the stuffing and crimp together (the final shape should look kind of like a football). Dab a little milk on the top and poke some holes with a fork. Repeat until all pasties are assembled.
5. Place the pasties on a baking sheet (one that has raised sides, so dripping lard doesn’t leak all over the oven). Bake for 15 minutes at 425°, then turn down the oven to 375° and bake for another 40 minutes or until done (usually sooner).
Once I had all my nieces and nephews over, and we all made our own pasties. When that happens, write your name on the top with fork holes to remember which one belongs to which person. There is no real right or wrong with this recipe, so feel free to adapt it to your preferences. But lard definitely makes the best crust…and the crust is the best part!