The Dutch Oven Pasty

I recently ran across this recipe, which works really well in a Dutch oven, it’s a little meat pie, called a “pasty”, and I learned it from one of “our kids”, Amber. You see when our kids were growing up we were going to horse shows a lot and they became close friends with the children of the folks that we “ran with.” We sort of all adopted each other. That’s why this “kid of mine” has grandparents that are not my parents. Amber explained that the “pasty” meant more to her than a mere food. It is a loving connection with her own dear grandmother who lived in Butte, Montana, the family’s home. It turns out to be a very old form of portable lunch used by the Cornish tin and copper miners of Butte, who had emigrated and brought their cooking style, which harkened back to Chaucer’s day in the 1300’s in England. To them it was “a tayste of ‘Ome”, like to Amber, it is a hug from grandma.
Like making a pot pie you make little circles of dough, which you make with flour. The mixture is a pound of flour, mixed with 4 ounces of shortening, then enough water to knead into a ball that you then “rest” for about a half hour in the refrigerator while you put together the “innards.” This consists of 8 ounces of leek or shallot, 16 ounces of beef skirt or thin sliced chuck steak, 8 to 12 ounces sliced turnip, and 24 ounces sliced potatoes. Amber’s grandma also added sliced carrots and parsley. Roll out several large tortilla looking rounds from the dough and layer the meat and vegetables on it, with sprinkles of salt between each layer. Then fold over the dough, moisten and press together the edges with a fork, brush with milk or egg wash, cut a small steam vent in the top, and put them in the oven at 425 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Then at 325 for 20 more minutes. Then turn off the oven and let it sit for 15 more minutes. This mimics the heat pattern of a Dutch oven or wood stove. This should make six or eight pasties. Traditionally this was carried to work in a miner’s pail. A cowboy would eat it like an empanada, or “hand pie.” Now, to us, it’s a hug from our Amber!

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