I live in Michigan where two types of Michiganders reside. There are the Yoopers (U’pers) who live in the U.P. (Upper Peninsula) and the Trolls who live under the (Mackinac) Bridge. I’m a Troll but I love the U.P.! It’s a lovely part of our state and boasts some of the most spectacular scenery in the Midwest. The U.P. also has some unique foods. Pasties (pronounced “pass-tees”) are a favorite of mine since I was a little girl. But, since I’m a Troll I make Yooper Pasties Troll Version!
There’s just something about that flaky crust stuffed with meat and potatoes (and other vegetables) that warms my heart. Maybe it’s remembering vacations with my parents or maybe it’s just these pasties are just so darned good.
Yooper pasties are hand pies that were carried by miners in the U.P for lunch. Legend has it that the miners reheated the pies on a shovel over candles. I don’t know about that but I do know that pasties have been around since at least the 1800’s in our state.
They’re a thrifty dinner because they use inexpensive ground beef and have lots of vegetables. And you can customize them to suit your taste. Rutabagas are a common ingredient in the U.P. but I leave them out. Potatoes, onions, and carrots are pretty standard and you can use any vegetables you prefer.
To get things started I peel and dice up enough potatoes to yield about 4 cups.
Next I dice up carrots and onions. I want 2 cups of onions and a cup of carrots.
The ground beef goes into a large bowl and I add the vegetables. I combine the ingredients, using my hands. Then I season everything with salt and pepper. If I add peas right to the filling I do that last and mix them in gently.
The beef mixture is set aside while I make the pasty dough.
I preheat my oven to 375 degrees before I start my dough.
I mix the flour and salt in a large bowl and cut in the lard with a pastry blender. I want it to end up in pea size crumbs.
Next I add the water, all at once, and mix it in using a fork. It will be moist but look like dough when it’s mixed enough. I add a little bit of flour to make it pliable and soft if I need it.
I dust my large cutting board with a little flour and turn a piece of dough about the size of my fist out on it. I had to add a bit of dough here since it was definitely on the small side!
After flouring my rolling pin a little I roll the dough “fist” out to about 1/4 inch thick. I want the dough to be an oval because of the way traditional pasties are made. Clearly a perfect oval wasn’t in the cards but it was close enough. Yooper Pasties are a rustic meal so you don’t have to pull out a measuring tape or compass.
Once I have my dough all rolled out I scoop about 3/4 cup of the filling onto each oval of dough.
I fold the dough over and use the sides of my hands to shape the pasty.
Then I crimp the edges of the dough to keep the filling inside. Next I cut a few small slits in the top of the pasty. One to let the steam out and two more because that’s the way mama always did it.
Before putting the pasties on a baking sheet I line it with parchment paper. Then I place the pasties on the baking sheet making sure they don’t touch.
The pasties get baked for 40 – 50 minutes; until they’re golden brown.
This recipe makes about 18 pasties so I let some cool completely, then I’ll freeze them for an easy meal later on. But of course I have to have some right away!
I serve my Yooper Pasties Troll Version with a tossed salad, green vegetable and, for Mr. Comfortable, some brown gravy. Lots of people in Michigan put ketchup on their pasties but I have to go with Mr. C’s gravy option.
Yooper Pasties Troll Version
- For the crust (per batch):
3 cups flour
1 1/4 cups lard (you can use shortening)
1/2 cup cold water
1 teaspoon salt
*I make three batches of dough as it seems to turn out better than doing it in one big batch
For the filling:
- 2 lbs. ground beef
4 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups onions, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
- Dice potatoes, onions, and carrots.
- In large bowl combine ground beef, potatoes, onions, and carrots and season with salt and pepper.
- Gently mix peas into ground beef mixture.
- Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Mix flour and salt in a large bowl.
- Using a pastry blender cut in the Crisco (or lard) until it looks like pea size crumbs.
- Add the water, all at once, and mix with a fork until dough forms. You can add a little extra flour if needed to make a soft, pliable dough.
- Flour a large cutting board and turn out a fist size piece of dough on it.
- Roll to about 1/4 inch thick and try to get an oval shape.
- Place 1 cup of the filling on the oval dough and fold the dough over the filling.
- Use the sides of your hands to shape the pasty.
- Crimp the edges of the pasty to keep filling inside.
- Cut three small slits in the top of the pasty.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place pasties on it being sure they don’t touch each other.
- Bake for 40 – 50 minutes; until pasties are golden brown and cooked through.