Traditional English Lamb and Mint Pasties
Despite having grown up in many different places I still consider the town where my parents live home. The small town of Ellesmere is nestled between seven lakes and is well known locally for its beautiful country walks along the meres and its incredible delicatessen with their traditional English pasties.
Situated at the end of the Llangollen canal and between the cities of Shrewsbury and Chester, Ellesmere is a hidden and often forgotten enclave of North Shropshire. Wandering into the town centre you’ll find no fewer than seven pubs, a butcher, plenty of gift and antique shops as well as the famous Vermeulans delicatessen.
It is to Vermeulans that the locals flock in their droves to snap up warm fresh baked loaves of bread, sweet cakes, cheeses, cured meats and of course their famous pasties – which are available hot from Pete’s cafe next door.
This recipe for lamb and mint pasties pays small homage to the Vermeulans ladies whose baking is known far and wide in the region. They are a little taste of home and I always cook them with happy thoughts of Ellesmere in mind.
Makes: 4 pasties
Prep time: 1 hour
500g lamb mince
1 large potato
1 brown onion
1/2 cup peas
2 tsp plain flour
240ml beef stock (chicken or vegetable are fine too)
1.5 tsp dried mint
salt and pepper
2 sheets shortcrust pastry
Pre-heat your oven to 180˚C.
Begin by peeling the potato and chopping it into 1cm cubes and roughly chopping the onion. In a large heavy based frying pan heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil over a medium heat. Fry off the onion until it begins to soften before adding in the potato, cooking for a further 2-3 minutes before removing from the pan and setting aside.
Wipe the pan clean with a sheet of kitchen towel and add another glug of olive oil. Add the mince to the pan, season well with salt and pepper, and cook through completely – continually breaking down the chunks of mince with the back of a wooden spoon as it cooks. You don’t want any big lumps of meat, rather, fine grounds that will later melt into the gravy and coat the vegetables.
Next, sprinkle over the flour, completely coating the mince. This will need to cook out for a couple of minutes before you add in the stock, half at a time. Stir continuously until a thick gravy coats the meat. At this point add the potato and onions back in and mix well to combine. Season to taste, add in the dried mint and peas and cook for a couple of minutes more before removing from the heat and setting aside to cool.
Once the mince mixture is cool enough to spoon onto the pastry, cut each pastry square in half so that you have four triangles. Spoon a quarter of the mixture into each. To seal the pasties, run a little warm water across the pastry edge using your finger, then fold the triangles in half and pinch together the open edges. Brush with egg wash and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is rich and golden.
Turn the pasties over halfway through cooking to ensure an even bake.
You could add in some chopped carrot if you wanted.
For me, this pastie is complete on its own. My husband, however, would never eat a pastie without tomato sauce. I try hard to ignore him when he defiles these delicious pasties in such a way.