Monday, February 27, 2012

Recipe: Turkey & Ham Pasties with Fresh Beet Salad

On the Continent people have good food; in England people have good table manners. – George Mikes, British author

Does this look like bad food to you?
I don’t know if I agree entirely with that statement… some British food is excellent.

I went to the grocery store this morning because I had a craving for something British. Has anyone had the Cornish Pasties from The Old Triangle in downtown Halifax?

This is the filling. It can be made ahead and refrigerated.
Absolutely amazing. It used to be a Sunday ritual in a past “life” of mine to go there for dinner. That stage of my existence has long ago ended and for some odd reason so have the trips to the Triangle.

That’s OK, because pasties are actually quite easy to make at home. And almost as good… I say “almost” because at the Triangle they make their own puff pastry. Perhaps later this year I’ll have the intestinal fortitude to try it. They do a really good job.

So frozen puff pastry has to do, at least for me.

The filling is, well, filling. Moist chunks of chicken (turkey in this case), meaty mushrooms, ham and veggies all in a creamy sauce wrapped in flaky pastry. What’s not to love?

You can make endless variations on this recipe: all chicken, all ham, add potato, turnips, or even cabbage. Traditional pasties (Cornish Pasties from Cornwall in the UK) contain beef, onion and potato wrapped in shortcrust (pie) pastry. To them there is no other.

Four pasties feed four people.
I like the combo of chicken and ham – and the puff pastry. Why the turkey? I couldn’t bring myself to pay what they were asking for chicken at the grocery store. 

How do people feed a family? Over $20 for six boneless skinless chicken breasts and in the mid teens for boneless thighs. We have enough trouble just affording food for the two of us. That’s just crazy. I only buy when it goes on sale.

As you can imagine, turkey thighs are cheaper. I bought two decent sized ones for $6.50 and the recipe only used one so I’ll transform the other into something in a day or two. I already have an idea…but for now try these pasties. They're excellent.

Turkey & Ham Pasties
Prep: 30 min  |  Cook: 30 min  |  Serves 4
Puffed and golden.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 rib celery, diced
6” carrot, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 portobello mushroom caps, chopped
1/2 lb turkey meat, chopped
250 g sliced ham, chopped
3/4 cup milk
1 tbsp cornstarch, mixed with 2 tbsp water
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 package pre-made puff pastry, thawed*

Filling can be made ahead and refrigerated.

Sauté the vegetables in the olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes. Then add the mushrooms and sauté for a further 5 minutes. Add the chopped turkey and cook until no longer pink, a further 5 minutes. Then add in the ham, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Stir well to combine and then pour in the milk. Bring to a boil and then add the cornstarch mixed with the water.

Let the mixture cook until thickened. Taste for seasonings and adjust if desired. At this point the filling can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Dust a pastry board (or your counter) with some flour. Roll out one half of  package of pre-made puff pastry to a rectangle 8” x 16”. Cut into 2 equal squares.

Place 1/4 of the filling on the middle of each square. Wet the edges of the pastry with water. Bring the four corners together to the centre and pinch. Then pinch the edges together to make a square. Flute the edges.

Repeat with the remaining puff pastry and filling. 

This beet salad is amazing. Even if you don't like beets try this.
The Italian parsley and orange juice transform it dramatically!
Place each package on a cookie sheet. Vent the pasties before baking by poking fork holes in each one. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serve with a side salad. The following one is amazing. How about…

Fresh Beet Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
Serves 4
3 raw beets, sliced thin and cut into wide sticks
1 medium onion, sliced thin
1 large carrot, sliced thin and cut into matchsticks
1-1/2 cups Italian parsley leaves, left whole
for the viniagrette
1/4 cup blood orange juice (or orange)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

* if you wish, substitute the puff pastry for a recipe of pie dough for a double crust 8" pie.


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