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Lead's Meat Pies

The humble pastie from Cornwall has become a Lead tradition.

 

Immigrants from around the world came to work in the Homestake Mine in Lead when it opened in 1876. Along with a desire for a better way of life, they brought a diversity of customs and cuisine. Several ethnic foods continue to be local favorites, including the Cornish pastie (pass-tee).

Pasties are similar to the meat pies found in today’s frozen food section without the variety of fillings. The old-fashioned pies were usually just meat and potatoes wrapped in a crust. Pasties were a perfect food for hungry hard rock miners who didn’t see the light of day until their shift was over. The filled pie fit easily into their oblong metal lunch buckets, and provided a complete meal — meat, potatoes and bread.

Some say the thick-crimped crust of the pastie was more handle than food. Cyanide, arsenic and other toxins were often used to extract gold and tin so the miners knew their hands might be contaminated. To be safe, they held the pastie by the crimped edge. After eating the rest of the pastie, superstition compelled them to leave “the handle” for the ghosts they believed lived in the mines.

Although the Homestake Mine closed years ago, Lead residents carry on the pastie tradition. In our Jan/Feb 2009 issue, pastie-making members of Christ Episcopal Church shared a scaled-down version of their recipe.


 

Pasties were a popular lunch for miners in the Northern Black Hills.

Pasties

(makes six) 

3 cups sifted flour
1 cup shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups cut up top sirloin steak
5 1/2 cups sliced potatoes
1/2 cup onions
Dried parsley
Salt and pepper
Butter

Cut shortening into flour and salt. Add water bit by bit to work into a paste you can handle. Refrigerate one hour. Divide dough into six equal pieces. Roll each piece into a nine-inch circle. Mix potatoes and onions together. Put 1 cup potatoes and onions in center of dough. Spread ¼ cup well-packed meat over potatoes and onions. Sprinkle with dried parsley. Salt and pepper to taste. Put pat of butter on top. Pull dough over top and seal edges. Snip air hole in top. Baste with melted butter. Bake in 350 degree oven for 45-50 minutes. After removing from oven, baste with melted butter.

 

Editor’s Note: This story is revised from the Jan/Feb 2009 issue of  South Dakota Magazine. To order a copy or to subscribe, call 800-456-5117.

Comments

09:48 am - Thu, January 26 2012
Chad Coppess said:
One of my favorite meals when I'm in the Northern Black Hills is a beef pastie from the Fresh Start convenience store in Central City. Great stuff for the photographer on the go!
12:31 pm - Mon, January 30 2012
Bill Stone said:
Thanks for reposting the PASTY story. Note that singular is just the 'y'
06:36 am - Mon, April 2 2012
Karen Kubal said:
After reading your magazine story on the pasty, I placed the miners' meal on my Black Hills "must do" list. We finally found them at the Fresh Start in Central City thanks to a nice lady at the Homestake visitors' center. It was quite an adventure though to track them down!
06:45 am - Fri, January 22 2016
Rob Trewhella said:
Pastys have been given protected status here in Cornwall. The recipe is skirt or chuck steak( sirloin too expensive) potatoes, turnip, onions, salt and pepper, never put in carrots. Use shirt crust or puff/flakey pastry. Crimping is the difficult part,
Some old ladies use their false teeth !!!! Joke.
06:47 am - Fri, January 22 2016
Rob Trewhella said:
And it's Pasty or Pastys, not pasties. I love educating the colonials haha
07:25 am - Fri, January 22 2016
Sarah Jenkin-Green said:
I'm a Penzance maid born and raised a true Cornish Pasty is
Skirt steak
Diced onion
Diced swede (large turnip)
Diced potato
Salt & ground white pepper (to taste)
Shortcrust pastry.

Always crimped on side NOT top bake in middle of oven gas mark 7 for 55 mins
07:43 pm - Fri, January 22 2016
Karen Ludeman Harvey said:
Using lard is better than shortning .(..but only Crisco)
Tis the secret!
07:47 pm - Fri, January 22 2016
Karen Ludeman Harvey said:
Clarification : IF using shortning only Crisco but better to use lard..but back off about 1/4th of a cup!!!!
08:03 am - Sun, January 24 2016
Jack Backen said:
These are excellent also known as "A LETTER FROM HOME"
12:05 pm - Sun, April 24 2016
Brian Carpenter said:
You can get them at Fresh Start in Sturgis, too. At least in the summer. Easier than Hill City for lots of folks.

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