BVC Cooks US vs UK: Meat Pie

usuk Raiding my Nana’s recipe notebook again.


Sometimes on a cold wintery day you just need something hearty and chewy and full of fat and protein for your comfort food. At the Highland Games, people make individual size of these hearty treats and call them pasties (soft ‘a’ so you don’t confuse them with stripper garb). My Nana just called it meat pie. At the Games, you are more likely to find minced meat (hamburger and sausage,) cooked in oversized muffin tins with more gravy than meat. Some people add potato chunks to the meat and call it Cornish Pastie.

I don’t know how authentic any of these variations are. You could probably do it with mutton and have similar results. Can we hear from Chaz and Chris?

If you don’t know how to make a pie crust, or don’t care to, you can buy them now. Saves a lot of work.

You will need:

pie crust for a top and bottom crust on a 9” pie plate

1.5-2 lbs stew meat

1 onion chopped

Extra flour to make a gravy

Roll the meat chunks in the flour. Brown it with the onion in a heavy pan. Then either throw it in the pressure cooker with 1 C water and cook for 12 minutes under pressure, or put it in a crock pot/stew pot for 12 hours until fork tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Line the bottom of the pie plate with 1 crust, dump in the meat mixture. If you have a lot of left over liquid, add more flour to it and whisk over medium heat until it thickens. Dump that in too. Cover with top pie crust, pinch the edges together, brush with milk and make a couple of small slits to vent. Bake for 30 minutes at 375’ or until crust is brown on top and flakey.

Serve with mashed potatoes and tinned peas. Makes 4-6 portions (one if you have a teenager.)

If you want to get creative and aligned with modern diets you can add garlic, mushrooms, and thyme to the meat mixture. I don’t need more carbs than the crust so I forego the potatoes. A green salad on the side completes the meal and lightens the denseness of the pie.

Still, on a hot and sweaty afternoon on the field of the Highland Games having tossed the caber and thrown the hammer, or piped your lungs out, or danced your feet off, or just wandered the interesting vendor booths, nothing tops that first bite of the rich meaty mixture with gravy running down your chin to replenish the body, mind, and spirit.

Can you tell I’m in the middle of writing a cozy mystery set at a Highland Games?


About Phyllis Irene Radford

Irene Radford has been writing stories ever since she figured out what a pencil was for. A member of an endangered species—a native Oregonian who lives in Oregon—she and her husband make their home in Welches, Oregon where deer, bears, coyotes, hawks, owls, and woodpeckers feed regularly on their back deck. A museum trained historian, Irene has spent many hours prowling pioneer cemeteries deepening her connections to the past. Raised in a military family she grew up all over the US and learned early on that books are friends that don’t get left behind with a move. Her interests and reading range from ancient history, to spiritual meditations, to space stations, and a whole lot in between. Mostly Irene writes fantasy and historical fantasy including the best-selling Dragon Nimbus Series and the masterwork Merlin’s Descendants series. In other lifetimes she writes urban fantasy as P.R. Frost or Phyllis Ames, and space opera as C.F. Bentley. Later this year she ventures into Steampunk as someone else. If you wish information on the latest releases from Ms Radford, under any of her pen names, you can subscribe to her newsletter: Promises of no spam, merely occasional updates and news of personal appearances.


BVC Cooks US vs UK: Meat Pie — 8 Comments

  1. Pasties are shaped completely differently to individual meat pies – and with a more robust pastry. The filling in a pasty should be raw, not a pre-made stew and to be a Cornish pasty I believe *must* contain swede and skirt steak.

  2. I, too, have heard that the ingredients for a pasty have to be raw to be authentic but I have always been a fan of meat pies of various persuasions (pirozski, empanada, whatever) so I know that there are all kinds of variations on the main theme. And then a further thought: what a great reason to make a bigger than usual pot roast, to be able to have leftover meat to make pasties later (individual ones, to be frozen for lunches later, maybe?). And if they are not going to be traditional, maybe we can come up with a different name, as so many chefs do right now, so no one can quibble with how authentic we are.

  3. Northern Michigan was populated with miners from Cornwall, and they brought pasties with them. Now northern Michigan restaurants routinely make and sell them as a regional dish. They were designed for miners to slip into their pockets for lunch, so the crust is heavier and there’s no gravy, but aren’t raw. I’ve never heard of that!

  4. The idea of having -no- veg in the meat pie does not sound appetizing to me, but what do I know. It clearly is a -meat- pie. I have a recipe for veal-and-ham pie which involves baking the raw meats in the crust, and then adding a quantity of meat gelatine so that all the meats are embedded in a solid jelly. This is so that you ca slice it and serve it cold — quite a pretty effect on the plate.
    There is a Cornish Pasty store in Vienna, VA that I have always believed to be authentic (everyone behind the counter is bluish-white of skin and red of hair). They have all kinds of oddball variations, like curry chicken or steak portobello. Here is the link:
    Anyone want to comment on their authenticity?

  5. Pasties are big in the California gold mining country, too, because of the Cornish miners. They do not go in a pocket but in your dinner pail. They are like turnovers, not pies, triangular in shape. In a pinched-off corner you can put a bit of jam for a sweet.

  6. The pasty (Hoggan or Oggie – in Cornish) had another advantage for miners – you could eat them when your hands are covered in arsenic (very common in the Cornish mines which were usually for tin or copper). You’d eat 95% of the pastry and all the filling then discard the bit you were holding. This had the added incentive that you could treat the discarded portion as an offering to the little folk (knockers) who lived in the mine. Presuming the knockers were immune to arsenic:)

    You could also have the pasty divided into a savoury section and a dessert section.