07 February 2010
Eggs, Part V
In the fall of the year in Northern Michigan residents prepare for the winter. Apples and pears are plucked from their orchards and stored in a cool place for applesauce making and pie baking. Seafarers winterize their boats, and shopkeepers reduce their extended summer hours to a thrifty minimal few. The leaves on the trees change from green to red, orange, brown and gold as the farmers prepare for their harvest. Hunters abound clothed from head to toe in wooly warm camouflage with a flare of blaze orange across their chests or atop their heads.
If you drive through the Upper Peninsula this time of year, nary a few miles pass by before you see some little shack or roadside stand that boasts it sells the best pasties in the land. This hunters’ early morning breakfast and classic coal miners’ lunch has become the favorite warming dinner of a city dweller like me. I grew up with a father who hunted deer every fall and a mother who made pasties for him to take along. I can remember the buttery crumble of the crust as I took a big first bite, and the warm, hearty comfort of meat and potatoes as I ate my way into a gentle food coma.
So, what does this have to do with eggs? One of the most simple ways to use an egg is in an egg wash. An egg wash is used to help bind things together, to seal the surface of something or to make things more delicious-looking. My mother’s recipe for these tasty single-serving meat-filled pastries requires egg only on the outside, lightly brushed on for sheen and color—pure looks, really. If you want your pies and pastries to look as appetizing as they’ll taste, then beat together 1 egg with 1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of water and brush it on.
To compare the look of an egg washed pasty and a non-washed pasty, check out the picture below (egg wash on the left).
Michigander Pasties, a recipe
Prepare a pie dough using a recipe you like (in general, I like to make all-butter pie crusts). This recipe is best suited for a dough that won’t flake or fall apart too easily. Mom likes to use part butter, part Crisco.
After you’ve prepared your dough, separate it and shape it into balls, and flatten the balls into thick discs (like big hockey pucks) about 3-inches in diameter. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
For the filling:*
Mix together the following ingredients:
1 1/2- 2lbs. ground meat (venison, lamb, veal, pork, beef or any mixture thereof)
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 large baking potato OR 2-3 smaller Yukon gold potatoes, cubed
Season with salt, pepper and fresh herbs, if you like
*Feel free to substitute or add in any other root vegetables you have on hand, like turnips, parsnips, sweet potatoes, etc.
For the egg wash:
1 egg + 1 egg yolk + 1 Tbsp. water (beat together)
Roll the dough out into 6-inch circles. Place a generous scoop of the filling in the center of the dough. Fold the dough in half over itself, like a taco shell, and seal the edges. (To seal the edges, you can simply press down on the dough with your fingers, press the dough with a fork, or crimp the edges decoratively, as if you were making a pretty pie crust.)
Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place the pasties 2-inches apart and brush them lightly with egg wash. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.
Serve your pasties while still warm or wrap them in foil to-go!
For freezing: Prior to baking, double-wrap them in plastic for freezing.
For Reheating: Bake the pasties at 400 degrees for 30 minutes if thawed, 45 if frozen.
This recipe is courtesy of my Mom, who's been making and perfecting her pasties for over 20 years. Thanks, Mom!
Posted by Jen