by Kelly Allard
When discussing pasties, the first thing that should be addressed is the pronunciation; otherwise we might be having completely different conversations which could result in a very embarrassing (but possibly hilarious) miscommunication. Pasty is pronounced by saying the words pass and tea. Pasty. Now that we have that covered we can get to the meaty details. Pasties have been a mainstay of Iron Range culture for many generations. During the 1800's and early 1900's, the mines were thriving and attracting workers from all around the world. Hibbing and the surrounding area became a confluence of culture; immigrants brought their recipes and traditions, but were also at the mercy of the weather and the seasonality of what was available. Pasties, which had come across the Atlantic with workers from Cornwall, were an ideal way to use the crops that thrive in northern Minnesota as well as a convenient lunch for the Iron Range workers to bring to work. Since these meat and veggie pies are also pretty darn delicious, they found their way to the dinner tables in the region and eventually beyond, as families moved from the Iron Range, bringing the tradition of the pasty with them.
My Finnish and Polish ancestors on the Range made pasties, and pasties have always been a mainstay in my home. My mom makes them, my grandma made them, my great grandmothers made them, you get the picture. I was fortunate to meet up with my great-uncle a few weeks back, and he gave me the pasty recipe from his mom (my great-grandmother). I was honored to learn this recipe that I'll share with you now.
Note: I was told that using organic was an important part of the process, so try to get organic produce and meat if you can!
3 boxes of pie crust or six of your favorite homemade crusts
¾ lb cubed or ground beef
½ lb cubed or ground pork
¾ lb red potatoes
¾ lb rutabaga
½ lb onion
½ lb carrots
2-3 cloves of garlic (optional)
Salt and pepper
Mary Manninen's recipe (as told by Hank Manninen)
Chop potatoes, rutabaga, onion, and carrots into ¼ inch to ½ inch cubes. Place vegetables (and grated garlic clove if using) in a bowl with the beef and pork. Mix well, adding salt and pepper to taste.
Roll out your dough into a circle and put 1/6 of the meat and vegetable mixture on the bottom half of the dough. Fold the top half of the crust over the filling, and crimp the edges. Pierce the top of the pasty with a fork three times, so the steam can escape. Repeat with the other five crusts.
Place the pasties on a greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake at 405⁰ for 50 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Let cool slightly and enjoy!
Like the recipe, the method of eating a pasty differs from person to person and family to family. Some people love them smothered in ketchup (guilty!), some in gravy, and some cut the pasty in half lengthwise and let a knob of butter melt into it. How do you eat your pasties?
Since pasties at their core and in their essence, were originally about convenience, another fantastic way to enjoy pasties is in pie form. Buy some pre-made crust, pack in the pasty filling, and top with a second crust. Bake the same time and temp as the recipe above. You can slice and serve it right away or freeze for another day!
p.s. If you are looking to really rile up a room full of Iron Rangers, start a discussion about how to make pasties. You'll get a lively debate about what should go inside (butter, rutabaga, celery, etc.), but overall, they'll typically agree on who makes the best ones:
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