Author Notes: These pockets of deliciousness are called pasties. They are Cornish and are traditionally filled with beef, potato, and onion and topped with a rich gravy but I fondly remember them as being called “love letters from home”, wondering why?
My parents grew up in Butte Montana and if you know anything or have heard anything about Butte, it is a copper mining town. People from ALL over the world migrated there at the turn of the century to get a piece of the action of the booming mining industry. All of the influxes of ethnicities is what made Butte the “melting pot” of the west and with that came all the wonderful cuisines.
It was and still is very very shall I say colorful? Oh let me be honest, it is a total trip to be there, total. Its worth a visit just for the experience, trust me. Maybe in another post I will fill you in on some Butte stories….
Now back to why they are called “love letters from home”. The underground miners worked long days in very dangerous conditions and they each carried a lunch bucket because when they went underground, they didn’t come back up until their shift was over, typically 10-12 hours. During their shift work, labor was really intense and they needed a substantial meal to get them through the long hours. The pasty was one of the staples in their lunch buckets for a couple of reasons, it was hearty but more importantly, every time a miner left for work there was a chance he wouldn’t come home so their wives or mothers sent these as a reminder they were loved and to return home at the end of each day.
I adored that story and when my mother and grandmother made these for us I always knew they were “love letters from home” and I like to pass that same feeling on when I make them for the ones I love.
I remember we always made them during the fall and winter because they are the ultimate comfort food. It took a small army of helpers for the prep work. We were enlisted to peel the potatoes, cut the onions or dice the meat while my mom or grandmother made that perfect crust.
As they baked, which felt like eternity, we anxiously stood near the oven. The smell was out of this world yummy and when they came out, we each chose the one we wanted, the more crust the better, slathered on a ton of gravy and mix all of it together with the homemade coleslaw.
Here is my personal version, filled with pork loin, roasted garlic, potatoes, and caramelized onions topped with a home made pork gravy. It is totally WORTH it to make them from scratch, I promise, after all, you are sending a “love letter from home” and those take time..
pounds Pork loin roast, diced to ¼ inch
onion, halved and thinly sliced
bunch garlic cloves, roasted
Medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut in quarters
cups ice water, plus more if needed
pieces Pork loin ribs
cup white wine, preferably pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc
teaspoons Ham rue, I use "better than bullion brand"
teaspoon Chicken rue, I use "better than bullion brand"
Salt and pepper
- Early in morning, measure 6 cups flour in a bowl and cut up cold butter, salt and work together flour and butter until mealy. Add water slowly and just squeeze to bring together. Don't work dough or it will get too hard. Once it comes together, put into 4 small balls and put in fridge for at least 30 minutes. Repeat with other 6 cups flour.
- On stove top, heat medium sauté pan and add 2-3 T butter and melt. Add onion and cook down until caramelized.
- Heat oven to 350. In a sheet of foil, add a bunch of garlic cloves. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper and dot with a little butter. Roast until golden brown but shake foil packet 2-3 times while cooking.
- Cut up pork loin into small dice, ¼ inch. With a tabletop grinder or kitchen aide grinder attachment, grind potatoes. Put out 3 bowls and divide pork evenly. Add ⅓ potatoes without water and incorporate into meat. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in ⅓ onion and garlic. Repeat with other 2 bowls.
- Take 2 dough balls out and divide into 3 or 4 slices and start to roll out into individual rounds. Put a full scoop of meat plus a bit more. Brush with water. Top with butter and fold over. Trim extra dough and fold over and pinch together. Put on parchment lined baking sheet. Sheet should hold 5 pasties and each bowl should make about 9 pasties.
- Turn oven to 350 and brush top of pasties with milk. Cook for 45 min then switch for another 45 min.
- While making pasties, cook pork ribs with salt and pepper for 45 min to 1 hour.
- While pasties are cooking, put 1 stick of buttering Dutch oven over med heat.
- Add onion and sauté until translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Add drippings from ribs and ½ cup flour. Stir until rue. Add 1 cup wine and fill with water. Add ham rue to taste and a little chicken rue. Boil until thick and season as needed. Strain and return to pot.
- Serve pasties immediately with gravy and coleslaw.
- Can cut recipe down if wanting to make less but they freeze beautifully.
- If freezing, individually wrap each pasty in foil and place in a ziplock bag. Reheat at 300 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until heated through.