I had a bit of a light bulb moment the other day. I was flipping through Niki Segnit’s fabulous Flavour Thesaurus, reading how the author delights in the combination of black pudding and onion, which she claimed works well in patties. I, however, read pasties and was suitably confused when I got to the end of the recipe thinking “where’s the pastry”? But why not make a pasty filled with black pudding and other goodies? I mean, really, if there’s one sure fire way to improve something, wrap it in pastry. (That’s where I stop though. If you want it deep fried and rolled in icing sugar thereafter, you need Paula Deen’s website, not mine).
So here they are, and they are fantastic, if I do say so myself.
Needless to say I take my lead from Niki’s recipe. But whereas hers calls for leeks and mustard powder, which I’m sure would work well, my butcher had some rather good looking morcilla on display rather than traditional English black pudding, and I had some red onions lying around at home, so I decided to create a more Iberian take on the filling. It’s not exactly traditional West Country fare but hey, we’re all Europeans now. Paprika adds some delicious smokiness.
For the pastry:
300g strong white bread flour
100g lard – which these days is a naughty word, but on no account substitute a different type of fat. Lard gives the pasty its ultra crisp, crumbly exterior.
140mL ice cold water
Pinch of salt.
For the filling:
2 large potatoes
2 red onions
1 red pepper
150g black pudding
½ tsp smoked paprika
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
- Put the butter and lard into the freezer. When hard, grate into the flour and salt. Gently combine with a knife so that the little shreds of fat are covered in flour. Do not rub the fat into the flour as you would with other pastries. Add the water and stir to combine. When the mixture comes together, turn it out onto a floured surface and gently knead, just enough to bring together in a ball. What you want is to still be able to see some “veins” of fat throughout the dough, but still for it to hold together. Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes at least. Do not under any circumstances be tempted to skip this step. Magical things happen to pastry when left alone in the cold and we humans should not question such mystery.
- Peel the potatoes, cut into large chunks, and boil in water with a pinch of salt for about 15 minutes or until mashable (i.e. when they slide easily off a knife when pierced). Drain. Crush the potatoes roughly with a wooden spoon.
- Peel and slice the onions. Slice the pepper (both should be of a similar thickness of slice). Fry in the olive oil over a medium heat until soft and caramelised (say, 15 mins, might be longer). Stir into the crushed potatoes with the paprika and some salt and pepper to taste. Crumble the black pudding or chop it into small chunks. Stir through the potato and onion mixture. If it’s looking a bit dry feel free to lube it up with a bit more olive oil.
- Divide the pastry into 4 pieces. Place 3 pieces back in the fridge and roll out the remaining one on a floured surface to form a circle about the size of a side plate (mine are 20cm in diameter – I daresay this recipe will give you enough mixture and pastry to make slightly larger ones if you wished). Indeed, used a side plate to trim it into a perfect circle. Place one quarter of the filling mixture (or as much as your pastry circle will comfortably hold) in the middle of the circle and mould it into a sort of torpedo shape. Bring the pastry up the sides and crimp it along the top (or roll it over as you might a paper bag with a sandwich in it). This is the Devon style of making a pasty, which I think is a bit more elegant than the Cornish method (in which the seam is at the side rather than on top). You may find it easier though to adopt the Cornish method, in which case place the mixture on the side of the pastry circle and fold the dough over and then crimp/roll up at the side. Repeat with the other 3 portions of pastry and filling.
- Place the pasties on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Brush beaten egg quite generously over the tops and sides.
- Bake for 15 minutes in an oven preheated to 220C. Reduce the heat to 180C and bake for a further 15 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the pasties in the oven for a further 10-15 minutes. Take them out and rest for 5-10 mintues before serving – the filling will still be extremely hot.
- Serve with a salad, perhaps one with some apple and celeriac through it?
Wine suggestion: anything red and Spanish. I’m quite into Bierzo at the moment. Or if you’re in a more West County mood, cider.