I grew up in an Irish Catholic neighborhood in northeastern Pennsylvania with plenty of other-denominational churches around as well. It seemed all of them had a weekly “Pastie Day” where the Altar and Rosary Society (or equivalent) would get together and make them to sell that afternoon. Of course this is back when women didn’t work. As time went on, women got jobs and that was the end of Pastie Day!
Very rarely my mom or my aunt will come across a church that still sells them. Last time, they shared with us. I was bound and determined to figure out how to make them. And I did. They’re super simple and taste just like I remember growing up.
As an aside, pasties are very popular in Northern Michigan as well, though they are a bit different. These are classic northeastern Pennsylvania church pasties. It’s the only way I know how to describe them! This recipe makes four pasties.
1 to 1-1/2 lbs. ground sirloin
1 large onion
2 to 2.5 lbs. potatoes, any variety
salt and pepper
2 packages refrigerated pie crust dough (each package contains two crusts, so you will have four crusts altogether)
1 tablespoon water
Remove pie crusts from packaging and unroll each onto a cutting mat or piece of waxed paper. Set aside (if they are out of the refrigerator for a little while, they’ll be easier to work with.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Chop onion and set aside.
Peel potatoes, then thinly slice or cube. Keeping the size of the slices or cubes fairly uniform and fairly small will allow them to cook evenly.
In a large bowl, combine the onions, potatoes, and (uncooked) ground meat. Mix until very well combined. You may even prefer to use your hands. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Especially pepper. Remember you are seasoning four meals.
Once mix is well combined, divide between four crusts.
Fold each crust over and pinch edges.
Cut a few slits in each pastie for venting, and place on a baking sheet (foil optional). In a small bowl, lightly beat egg with water, then brush onto each pastie. (You won’t use it all.) This helps the pasties brown nicely, but you can skip it if you prefer. Sprinkle a bit of coarse salt on each.
Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.
- Using ground sirloin instead of ground beef is not only healthier, it will help with the grease since you’re not pre-cooking/draining the meat. It’s slightly more expensive, but worth it for these.
- We eat these as is, but some prefer to serve with ketchup or brown gravy.
- You can add anything you like to the filling! I’ve heard of them made with carrots and/or rutabaga included, but have never tried either. Just chunk up any additional ingredients about the same size as your onions and potatoes and everything will cook at the same rate!
- A print-friendly version of this recipe can be found here.