Back when I changed my blog name to The Yooper Girl, I knew that I wanted to start incorporating more things from my homeland, the U.P. I know a lot of people are confused as to what “Yooper” means, so here’s a basic explanation.
yooper: a native or resident of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan
It really means so much more than that, but I’ll get into it some other time!
I’ve talked to so many people that don’t even know that Michigan is made up of two peninsulas. It really makes me sad when I talk to Trolls (people from the Lower Peninsula:) and they’ve never even been to the U.P. It’s incredible up here.
I’m not kidding when I say the U.P. is the Midwest’s Best Kept Secret. There may not be any Trader Joe’s or Chipotle’s, but what we lack in urban franchises, we more than make up for in all the pure beauty. You can go the west to the Porcupine Mountains, north to the Keewenaw Peninsula, east to the Soo Locks or Mackinac Island, or south to my hometown! I could go on and on but I’m not going to talk about all of the charming sites we have to offer because in the future I’m going to do separate posts on them. 😀
While the U.P. differs widely in cultures and landscapes, go to any place and every single person there will be able to tell you about a pasty.
A pasty (pronounced pass-tee!) is a traditional Yooper food. Back when mining was huge (think 1860’s), the miners would take pasties with them down into the mines for lunch because of their easy portability. The legend says they heated them up on their shovels over a candle! Pasties were originally brought here by the Cornish, but over time the Finnish adopted them and made them their own. This was an interesting article to read on the pasty!
As the article says, a pasty isn’t just food, it’s a way of life. One of my all time comfort foods is a warm pasty, straight out of the oven. The traditional way to eat them is with your hands, starting at one end and making your way around.
The dough of a pasty is simple – flour, water, salt, and lard (I use shortening:). It’s simple, but nothing beats the buttery, flaky layers when you bite into it. The hand pies are traditionally filled with meat, potatoes, onions, and sometimes rutabagas and carrots, which is what I’m sharing today. Nowadays at pasty places you’ll find plenty of innovative filling ideas like pizza, breakfast, ham and cheese, chicken alfredo, Mexican, veggie, and even vegan pasties. That’ll be my experiment next time I make them!
Pasties freeze beautifully so it’s great to make a big batch then take them out as you need them. I made these with my friend Mary and it made 18. One recipe makes 6 pasties so we tripled it. To reheat them, you can throw them in a 350F oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until they’re nice and warm all the way through!
- 3 cups flour
- 1 1/4 cups crisco
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 pound beef (round, sirloin, ground chuck, etc)
- 4 cups of 1/2 inch cubed peeled potatoes
- 1 cup of 1/4 inch chopped onions
- 1/2 cup of 1/4 inch chopped rutabagas
- 1/2 cup of chopped carrots
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender until it resembles pea sized crumbs. Add in the water all at once and mix with a spoon or fork until you have a clump of dough. It will be moist. Add in a little bit of flour to make it pliable and soft, if needed.
- In another large bowl, add in all the chopped veggies. Add in the meat, salt, and pepper, and mix it all together with your hands.
- Flour a cutting board. Take out a small fist size of dough and roll it out, about 1/4 thick. Try to make it in an oval shape.
- Take a 1 cup measure of the uncooked meat filling and place it on one side of the dough (see picture). Fold it over with your hands and crimp the edges so they don't come apart.
- Repeat for the rest of the pasties and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in a 375F oven for 45-50 minutes. Either eat immediately or let cool, then wrap with tinfoil and place in freezer safe bags and place in the freezer.
- Substitute veggies as you please. Add cheese, spices, or any other flavorings you wish!
- Ketchup is very popular to squeeze all over the pasty as well. Yum!