An authentic Michigan food, the original Cornish beef pasty was brought to the Michigan Upper Peninsula by the English copper miners of the 1840s from their native Cornwall. The miners would place the pasty on top of their shovel and warmed it over the headlamps deep in the copper mine. This versatile meat pie can have a million variations, but we like to stick with the original beef pasty recipe from Michigan Tech.
Why Michigan Loves the Beef Pasty
Michigan has a strong cultural connection to the beef pasty, a pastry filled with beef and vegetables. The beef pasty became a popular and economical food for miners in the Upper Peninsula, and its popularity has continued to this day. Additionally, many local restaurants and bakeries in Michigan specialize in making beef pasties, which contributes to the dish’s cultural significance in the state.
Over 180 years later, this once ethnic dish is baked every day to create this authentic Michigan food. The Beef Pasty is a flaky crust with meat and veggies inside to keep you warm. They contain a hearty variety of beef, pork, potatoes, rutabaga, and carrots in a flaky crust.
Once prepared, these tender, flaky pasties can be warmed in the oven for just a few minutes to truly enjoy the taste of Michigan.
The One True Orginal Beef Pasty Recipe
You can make authentic Cornish Beef Pasties in your home kitchen. The recipe is arranged by the relative proportion of each ingredient – a good shortcut of time, especially when using store-bought pie crust. In addition, we’ve included shortcuts that use pre-made pie dough or even commercial puff pastry (although you do lose the flavor).
Michigan Technological University was first established as a mining college in Houghton, Michigan. Their recipe for pasties is considered authentic genuine, and straightforward recipe passed down locally from the Cornwell miners to their college kitchens.
If you’re a student at Michigan Tech, you can expect to see the Pasty in your freshman dorm cafe.
Michigan Tech Dining Services Famous Pasty Recipe
This recipe makes ten pasties. Put about 12 oz of filling in each crust.
3 1/2 flour
9 oz. shortening
10 oz. cold water
1Tbl + 1 tsp salt
3 1/2# potatoes, peeled
1 1/2# coarse ground pork
12 oz coarse ground beef
9 oz diced onions
8 oz diced carrots
7 oz diced rutabaga
Preparation of the Original Beef Pasty
Chop the carrots and onions. Dice the potatoes and rutabagas in 3/8-inch dice. Mix all the filling ingredients and set them aside. Mix the flour and salt. Cut in the shortening for pie crust. Add the water and mix gently until the dry particles are absorbed; do not over mix.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On a floured surface, roll 4-ounce balls of dough into circles about the size of a dinner plate. Put about 12 ounces of filling on one half. Dampen the edges, fold the crust over the filling, and seal. Place on greased baking sheets (or use baking paper). Place in oven and bake for one hour. Serve with either catsup or gravy.
Variations of the Original Pasty Recipe
You can fill the pasty with many different variations of ingredants. The original Cornish pasty can include other meat such as lamb, chicken or even rabbit! What ever you have on hand. Turnips and parships can be a substitute for rutabega and potato. You can experiment with cut fruit, fruit preserves and jams.
What to Serve With a Beef Pasty
The entire purpose of a beef pasty was that it was a complete meal all to itself. However there is an ongoing debate on what you can put on top of an original beef pasty if you are not deep in a mine in Northern Michigan. The two most favored toppings on a beef pasty is gravy or ketchup. Gravy can be made of the drippings from the cooked ground beef and pork.
*Featured Photo of the beef pasty is by Scott Eckersley
Final Thoughts on the Michigan Beef Pasty
The Michigan Beef Pasty has been identified as one of the 10 Hometown Foods That Scream You’re From Michigan. While we love the original recipe from MTU its obvious that there are a million ways to make this tasty meat pie and we want to try them all. From Presque Isle Park in Marquette to Detroit there are great shops that make this tasty treat.