I just returned from attending my 40threunion at The University of Michigan Law School. Being back in the lovely city of Ann Arbor was absolutely magical. Not only did we have a picture perfect day for the Wolverines win over Nebraska, I had so much fun reconnecting with classmates with whom I’ve lost touch.
I had also forgotten about a uniquely Michigan food that I never got to eat while I was in law school.
Have you ever heard of Pasties?
No, not Pasties with a hard A (as in pastry), but Pasties with a soft A (as in pasta).
Pasties come from the UP (the Upper Peninsula in Michigan) and are basically a meat and potato pie that you can hold in your hand. Since I haven’t eaten meat since I was 19, I always turned the other way whenever pasties were served during law school.
So, imagine my surprise at the tailgate party in the Law Quad before the game when one of the servers asked if I wanted a vegetarian pastie. Sure I would!
And although the pastie I tried on Saturday used eggs instead of meat, I returned home to the Carolinas determined to try to invent a more realistic pastie that used a stand-in for the traditional beef.
I tinkered with a basic recipe for the crust from Cook’s Country with unbleached flour, unsalted butter, an egg, and sour cream. For my filling, I kept the traditional elements of onion, potato, and rutabaga, but substituted LightLife Gimme Lean Veggie Beef for the beef (normally skirt steak that would be cut into small pieces).
You’ll need a food processor for the dough, and about 30 minutes to chill it well before dividing it and rolling it out to form the crust of each individual pastie.
The filing comes together quickly while the dough is chilling, but remember you’re going to need 45 minutes of baking time.
My meaty meatless Pasties were a huge hit with my Southern hubby – who had never heard of them. Pasties are filling – kind of a manly man meal – and will reheat well in a toaster oven for lunch. I reheated them in a 350 degree oven for dinner the next night for 8 minutes and served them with a large salad. They tasted just as good as the previous evening.
So, please try my Michigan Pasties – and GO BLUE!
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and put back in the fridge to chill until you need it
- 1 egg
- ⅔ cup organic sour cream
- 3 cups unbleached white flour (King Arthur is my favorite brand)
- 1 ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium Vidalia onion, diced
- 2 russet potatoes, cut into ¼” pieces
- ½ of a small rutabaga, cut into ¼” pieces (about ½ cup)
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
- 10 ounces of Light Life Gimme Lean Veggie Beef (about ¾ of the 14-ounce package)
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons water
- TO MAKE THE CRUST: Cut the butter into small pieces and put back into the fridge to chill. Whisk together the sour cream and egg in a small bowl. Measure the flour into your food processor, add the salt and pulse a few times to combine. Add the chilled butter, and pulse about 15 times until only small pea-sized pieces remain. Add about half of the sour cream and egg mixture and pulse a few times. Scrap down the sides with a spatula. Add the rest of the sour cream and egg mixture and pulse about 15 more times until the dough forms. Put the dough on a lightly floured counter, pastry mat, or large cutting board and flatten it into a 6-inch disk. Wrap the disk up tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate it while you make the filling.
- TO MAKE THE FILLING: Turn the oven on to 375 degrees and line two rimmed baking pans with nonstick foil or parchment paper. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onion and a little salt. Cook the onion about 8 minutes until translucent. Add the potatoes and rutabaga and cook for about 12 more minutes. Toward the end, add the garlic and cook another minute or so. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat, and begin pinching in pieces of the Gimme Lean Veggie Beef. You don’t want to cook the Veggie Beef at this point, so just cover the cooked onion, potato, and rutabaga mixture with the small pinches of the Veggie Beef. When you are done, set aside for a few minutes to cool. When cool, mix in the pieces of Veggie Beef.
- Take out the chilled dough and cut it into six pieces. Work with one piece at a time, leaving the others back in the fridge. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece of dough out into a rectangle (about 8 x 10 inches). Put some filling in the center, and fold the dough over, creating kind of a half moon shape. Press the dough down around the edges and either crimp with your fingers or use a fork to make sure the edges are sealed. Transfer the pastie onto the lined cookie sheet and repeat with each of the other dough segments.
- When all of the pasties are formed, cut a small slit in the top of each one and brush with the egg wash to make them glisten. Bake for 45 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through baking. Bring the pasties out and let them cool on a wire rack for about 5-7 minutes before serving. (Traditionally in Michigan, pasties are served with ketchup. I like mine plain, but my hubby loved them the second evening with organic ketchup!)
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