Sunday, August 31, 2014

Yooper food

 If you, like me, grew up in Michigan, maybe your parents were like mine and thought it was unnecessary to go anywhere on vacation but northern Michigan. (No, Mom, I am not complaining about that!)
If you have been in northern Michigan, perhaps you have ventured across the Mighty Mac to the vast wilderness known as the Upper Peninsula. There you will find the culinary treasure known as the pasty. (pass-tee, not paste-ee...those are something else. The pasty is thought to have originated in Cornwall, according to Wikipedia, but can only be referred to as a Cornish pasty, it must meed several requirements including being made in Cornwall, according to the Cornish Pasty Association.
Because 2014 was the first year that I can remember that I wasn't able to make the journey north, I decided to make my own, and was happy to find that the end product did not fail miserably, and my husband and daughter actually said it tasted good. (that is a big deal)

My version of the pasty commonly found in the Upper Peninsula was inspired by the pasties my family has enjoyed for years from Lehto's, a little hole in the wall place you should check out should you ever find yourself in Saint Ignace, MI. It's a few minutes outside of town, but worth the drive. While you're out there, stop along US-2 for miles and miles of wonderful, sandy Lake Michigan beach.The recipe I came up with was quite simple:

  • 1 lb. skirt steak (I chopped this up and then put it in my food processor)
  • 4 potatoes, peeled and sliced very thin
  • 1 smallish rutabaga, also sliced very thin
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 pkg Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust (I know, I know, not authentic, but I didn't want to deal with the time and mess of making my own pastry dough.
I heated my oven to 350 degrees, and cut each pie crust in two. I filled each half of the crust with the above ingredients, folded it over, and crimped the edges. I put the pasties on parchment paper on a baking sheet and baked them for about 45 min. Keep in mind that these should cool on a wire rack for quite some time. Back in the day, miners would keep these in their pockets to eat during their lunch time, because they would stay nice and warm.

Was the end result perfect? Not quite. Was it as good as Lehto's? Not even close. But it did taste pretty darn good. It was enough to satisfy my craving without spending hours in the car and hundreds of dollars on gas. It invoked fond childhood memories and gave me a small taste of Michigan, my beloved home state. Next time, I might attempt the made-from-scratch crust, but why mess with a pretty good thing? Happy baking! And if you are looking for a memorable family trip full of natural beauty and lots of fun, visit the coasts of Michigan's peninsulas.