Monday, January 11, 2010

Pasty training and ski sesson

A pasty is a uniquely UP (Michigan's Upper Peninsula) treat. The correct pronunciation was explained by a native Yooper woman at the Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium a few years back, an event featuring a pasty supper as part of the program. "A pastie (long 'a') goes on your boobs. A pasty (rhymes with 'nasty') goes right on your ass". Basically its a self contained pot pie where a pie crust is filled with beef, potatoes, and onions and then folded over, sealed, and baked. I don't believe I've ever seen it featured as part of the diet plate at any restaurant that serves them. Although I've eaten many over the years and even have my 'must stop' pasty spots all over the UP, I've never made one myself. This gap in my knowledge was rectified by the BessemerConvivialist on Saturday.

The plan was to arrive the BC's south Minneapolis estate around 11am and get down to production. We were then scheduled to ski Hyland Park Reserve at 3pm. The VOR and I arrived close to on time with a couple six packs (mandatory at any SKOAC Renegade function) and a large rutabaga. This was a bone of contention with the pasty chef and you can see the look of scorn on her face as she holds the offending vegetable. In the western UP only the basic meat, potatoes, and onion....lots and lots of onion.....are allowed. When rutabagas are added it becomes a Cornish pasty. The miners from Cornwall are thought to be the original group that brought pastys to the UP. They stay warm a long time and utensils are not needed to devour one, which made them the perfect lunch in the mine. Another quirk of the western UP pasty fan is a total disdain for anyone that would think of putting gravy on their pasty, yet slathering the thing with ketchup is perfectly acceptable.

A compromise was reached where 1/3's of the pasty production would have rutabaga and the balance would be rutabaga free. After lots of chopping and pie crust production the assembly process began. KleanDeckKate showed up and pitched in, but the rest of the crew was in the 'Little Red Hen' mode and met us at the ski trail. Even though the temps hovered around 0F (-18C) it was great skiing and the wind cooperated nicely. It was too cold to skate but classical worked just fine. The apres' ski was wonderful of course, with lots of homemade pastys and a beer or three to round out the day.

Now that I have the technology to produce these things I would suggest not purchasing any stock in Joes Pasty Shop in Ironwood. Share prices might plummet without my several times per year purchase of a dozen Cornish. On second thought, pasty making was a lot of work and took a lot of time. I think Joe's is pretty safe. Plus if you need one right away, they will ship them to your house this time of the year. They are the perfect cold weather meal and I can highly recommend giving then a try. Even the cat looks like he'd like one.


Nan said...

Wow. Thanks for the link. My first actual job after high school was at Joe's Pasty Shop -- I didn't know they had a website. They do have the best pasties in the western U.P.

DaveO said...

you probably didn't know that Joes now has a branch out on US 2, pasty drive up window and all. You can't get a Cornish at the window however, only the traditional.