Sunday, May 8, 2011

Lentil Pasties (short "a" sound)

Pasties are a culinary tradition of Michigan's Upper Peninsula where they were historically a food carried by the copper miners into the mines for a delicious and hearty lunch or dinner.  Traditionally pasties would be made with beef, but, you guessed it, we made ours with lentils!

This recipe is delicious, but certainly not the quickest or easiest recipe.  As we made these I imagined myself as a copper miner's wife, up in the wee hours of the morning rolling out all this dough while cursing the world that I was up at this early hour and going to such trouble.  Even though these were a little time intensive, I thought they were totally worth the effort based on the deliciousness factor.  But it's probably a good thing that they take a little time and effort to make, because otherwise I would want to eat these all the time, and eating delicious, buttery pastries all the time turns one's body into a buttery pastry--something I'd rather avoid.

The process is (briefly) as follows: (makes about 8 pasties)
1.  Make and chill pastry dough
2.  Cook lentils and cool to room temperature
3.  Chop veggies and mix with lentils
4.  Roll out pastry dough
5.  Fill dough and shape into pasties
6.  Bake pasties

Now, in more detail:

1.  Make and chill pastry dough
Pastry dough is actually very simple and easy to make in the food processor, and so unbelievably delicious.  To anyone out there who likes to put Crisco or shortening in your dough - 1. gross! and 2.  try this dough, it is so much better!

Pulse in bowl of food processor for 10 seconds:
2.5 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 sticks of COLD butter cut into pieces.

With machine running, slowly add 1/4 cup icy cold water and process for no longer than 30 seconds.

Test dough with your fingers, it should hold together when pressed.  This is it!  You are done!

Divide the dough into equal 3 ounce portions, roll into balls and flatten slightly with your hand.  Throw in the fridge to use today or in the freezer if you want to use later.  This dough is also delicious for fruit pies and makes enough for a top and bottom crust.

Pastry Dough - 3 ounce portions, slightly flattened, ready to chill and then roll out.

2.  Cook lentils and cool to room temperature

Cook 1/2 cup lentils in 2 cups of vegetable stock.  Let cool to room temperature.

3.  Chop veggies and mix with lentils

Chop into 1/2 inch dice:
2 turnips
3 carrots
1 onion
3 potatoes

Season with salt and pepper
Mix with lentils

4.  Roll out pastry dough

Clean and lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin.  Roll out the dough, starting by rolling out a bit, turning dough 1/8 turn to the left, rolling out a bit of dough, turning dough 1/8 turn to the left, and repeating until dough is rolled out flat enough that you can cut a 10-inch round using a plate as a guide.  

Rolling out dough on floured work surface
10-inch round cut from rolled dough
5.  Fill dough and shape into pasties

Place about 1 cup of lentil filling on the dough and fold dough over the mixture.  Crimp the edges together and seal.  Cut several slits in the pastry dough and lightly glaze with an egg wash.  If you have any extra pasty filling, put it in a casserole dish and bake it alongside. 

Adding filling to the dough

Folding the dough over

Ready-to-bake, with slits cut into pastry and glazed with an egg wash
6.  Bake pasties

Bake in 350 oven for about 40 minutes.  Check on your dough and pull your pasties when they are looking delicious and golden brown.  Cool slightly on a wire rack before serving.  Pasties can be served hot or cold.

Cooked pasty, resting on a wire rack--before being devoured!

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