If you have ever traveled through the beautiful Upper Peninsula of Michigan you may have noticed the word “Pasty” (pronounced “pass tee”) on the signs of many small restaurants and fast food joints. My family is from the UP (Upper Peninsula) and if you are a “Yooper”, then you had a Grandmother or Mother that made Pasties for dinner on a regular basis.
For those of you that may not be familiar with Pasties, they are nearly as common in the UP as hotdogs. They were brought to the region by Cornish Miners who came to Michigan in the 1800’s to help build the Copper and Iron Ore mines scattered throughout the area. The Pasty is a self-contained meal with minced or ground meat, root vegetables, onion, and some basic seasoning wrapped in pie crust and formed in the shape of a “D”. They are much like Spanish Empanadas or a portable “pot pie”. The women rolled the seam of the pie crust around the edge of the pasty very thick as it was used as sort of “handle” or way to hold the pasty when it was being eaten. The miners hands were often contaminated and dirty from mining so they could hold them by the outer crust and then discard the crust which was soiled by their hands when they were finished eating. The different fillings inside the Pasties were often identified by the type of crimping done to seal the pie crust around the filling. You can see by the photo that the vegetables are diced in small cubes for even cooking. The most authentic Pasties contain “swede” or Rutabaga (Swedish Turnip) in addition to potatoes, carrots, and meat. The cool thing about Pasties is that you can customize the filling to your own taste. I have even had “Pasties” filled with pizza ingredients (like a Calzone) or filled with just vegetables for a healthier alternative.
One of my favorite Pasty places is Jean Kay’s in Marquette Michigan. They do a great job making a variety of authentic Pasties that are so delicious. Chef/Owner Brian Harsch makes them the way his Grandmother did (and my gram as well). Many of my family who have moved from Michigan, make it a point when visiting to stop by Jean Kay’s and buy boxes of frozen pasties to take back home with them to enjoy later.
If you would like to try making your own pasties at home, then here is a great Taste Of Home recipe for Michigan Pasties that is very similar to my Grandmother’s. I think you will love them, and for anyone that tries this recipe, I will declare them an official “Yooper”. Enjoy!
- 2 cups shortening
- 2 cups boiling water
- 5-1/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 12 large red potatoes (about 6 pounds), peeled
- 4 medium rutabagas (about 3 pounds), peeled
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 teaspoons pepper
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1/4 cup butter
- Half-and-half cream, optional
- In a large bowl, stir shortening and water until shortening is
- melted. Gradually stir in flour and salt until a very soft dough is
- formed; cover and refrigerate for 1-1/2 hours.
- Quarter and thinly slice potatoes and rutabagas; place in a large
- bowl with onions, beef, pork and seasonings.
- Divide dough into 12 equal portions. On a floured surface, roll out
- one portion at a time into a 10-in. circle. Mound about 2 cups
- filling on half of each circle; dot with 1 teaspoon butter. Moisten
- edges with water; fold dough over filling and press edges with a
- fork to seal.
- Place on ungreased baking sheets. Cut several slits in top of
- pasties. Brush with cream if desired. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or
- until golden brown. Cool on wire racks. Serve hot or cold. Store in
- the refrigerator. Yield: 12 servings.