Cornish pasties, figgyhobbin, and tea biscuits. You must be in Iowa County, Wisconsin! Ethnic food – Cornish, in Iowa County’s case — is a key ingredient in a community’s history and culture.
Authors of regional fiction often weave in food, and ethnic traditions, to color their stories. In our Kitchen and Culture recurring feature, we share recipes and traditions from the settings of Harold William Thorpe’s books — Iowa County, Door County, and Butte des Morts, Wisconsin. We’ll tap local restaurants for recipes. And we invite e-newsletter subscribers to share your recipes and your ethnic traditions.
This recipe, and photos, for Cornish pasties are graciously shared by the Red Rooster Café in Mineral Point, Wisconsin.
Red Rooster Café Cornish Pasties
6 medium raw potatoes, sliced thin
1 small raw rutabaga, sliced thin
2-1/2 pounds raw sirloin steak, cut into small cubes
1 onion, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Butter to taste
1 cup lard
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup cold water
½ teaspoon baking powder
3 cups flour
Cut dry ingredients into lard. Add water to form dough.
For individual pasties (lead miner style): Divide dough into six balls. Roll out each ball into the size of a dinner plate. On one half of the rolled-out crust, add the filling in layers – first the potato, then the rutabaga, then the meat, onions, salt and pepper, and a few dots of butter. Fold the crust over to make a half-circle, and crimp the edges. Bake 45 minutes to one hour at 350 degrees.
For pan-style pasty (family style): Roll out half of the dough and place it in the bottom of a 9-by-13 pan. Add the filling in layers – first the potato, then the rutabaga, then the meat, onions, salt and pepper, and a few dots of butter. Roll out the rest of the dough and layer it on as a top crust. Cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours. Remove foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until brown.
The Red Rooster Café serves pasties with chili sauce, but some people prefer gravy or ketchup. Hamburger can be substituted for the sirloin steak. Pasties freeze well.
In the O’Shaughnessy Chronicles novels, descendants of southwest Wisconsin’s hard rock-mining, nineteenth century Cornish immigrants weather early twentieth century change. These award-winning books are available through Amazon, the publisher Little Creek Press, and many local bookstores. You can also download a sample chapters from this website today.
All images ©2014 Terry McNeill