June 16, 2024

The Michigan Beef Pasty – There is Only 1 True and Genuine Recipe In Michigan

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 shovels and warm 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 Copper Miner – Library of Congress

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

Original Beef Pasty – Photo by Harry Grout

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

Making Beef Pasty Crust is a Labor of Love – Photo by congerdesign

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
1/4# butter
1Tbl salt
1Tbl pepper

Preparation of the Original Beef Pasty

Pastys Ready to Bake – Photo By Nora Hardy

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

Photo by Nick Fewings

You can fill the pasty with many different variations of ingredients. The original Cornish pasty can include other meat, such as lamb, chicken, or even rabbit! Use whatever you have on hand. Turnips and parsnips can substitute for rutabaega 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. 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 from the cooked ground beef and pork drippings.

Video: How to Make a Pasty at Michigan Tech

*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, it’s 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.

Paul Austin

Living in Michigan for almost 60 years has given me a lot of insight. I'm a contributing writer for Thumbwind Publications. His most recent project is developing edgy stories and content for Spice2Vice.com.

View all posts by Paul Austin →

8 thoughts on “The Michigan Beef Pasty – There is Only 1 True and Genuine Recipe In Michigan

    1. Yes. Use raw meat in the filling. The meat cooks and adds grease to the mixture as it cooks. It would be very dry with pre-cooked meat.

  1. Never never never put ground meat in a pasty!!! My grandmother was a Cousin Jenny from the CopperCountry and your recipe is not the best!!! No pork or carrots in a true Cornish pasty!

    1. LOL..You better march right up to Houghton and straighten out the kitchens at Michigan Tech. That’s where this recipe originates.

  2. My 2 daughters , one granddaughter and one great granddaughter and myself got together yesterday and made 37 of these Pasties. We precooked our burger with
    Onion and celery. Then we added our raw diced potatoes, carrots and rutabaga and seasonings. I also made a batch of gravy to add to the filling .Made the dough and put filling in and baked them for 35 min at 375°.
    Very good!

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