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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.


(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

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.


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.
05:33 pm - Sun, October 9 2016
Bobbie nolan said:
We used to have an assembly line when making these! Would make dozens for the freezer! Never added turnip, but did add a bit of pork. Great hot or cold! Living in Lead was like living in many different customs and ethnic dishes!
05:47 pm - Sun, October 9 2016
Scurvy P Hansen said:
You can get them at Fresh Start in Spearfish but I highly recommend you don't. They're sold cold only there (at least the last few times I looked) and taking them to the microwave is a far cry from what they taste like fresh. Central City Fresh Start is the place to get em done right.
07:20 am - Mon, January 23 2017
Linda said:
I remember going to the Moose lodge with my grandma seems to me to make these.
I love pasties, still make them like grandma did.
06:55 pm - Sun, February 26 2017
Kim Martin-Adams said:
My dad's mom taught my mom how to make these. One of my favorite meals growing up.
I thankfully have the recipe passed down.
04:38 pm - Wed, March 1 2017
Cora Hoskins said:
We always have pasties when we have special company and for some of our holiday meals. They are special, but made a little different than the above recipe.
04:35 pm - Wed, December 6 2017
Walter Olson, Ph. D. P.E. said:
I grew up in Butte. I grew up eating pasties,

The recipe is fairly authentic except maybe for the parsley. I make pasties fairly regularly. I prefer elk as the meat. But when that is not available, I used chuck.

There are a couple of keys to good pasties. First use lard, not shortening. Second, use the coldest water you can. Third put a couple pats of butter on the filling before closing the pastie.

I just made pasties this past Monday. While I now live in Central Wyoming, I gave some to an elderly couple from Anaconda and Bozeman that live near us. They said these are best they have had, better than the restaurant pasties they got in Butte during a Summer trip. So I think I have amvery good recipe and method.
12:16 pm - Fri, January 26 2018
Craig Anderson said:
I grew up in Lead, SD in the 70's and 80's and loved the original pasty's at Kings Grocery, across the street from the cyanide plant of the Homestake Mine. Fresh in a small warming oven.

I worked at the mine on the weekends while attending SDSM&T. I would buy a couple extra and take back to school with me.

I was back in the hills to sell my grandfathers house last year and a friend told me the Fresh Start in Central City sold them. A trip down memory lane!
12:34 pm - Tue, May 21 2019
Matt said:
If it has rutabaga it is a pastie.
If not it is a pasty.

We ship everywhere.
10:27 am - Sun, June 13 2021
Vickie Anderson said:
I'll be coming out to Rapid City in October. Where can I get some pasties yo take home. I love them but can't find any worth eating around here.
11:13 am - Sun, August 15 2021
Debbie Newman said:
Do they make a variety box now? Being we cant buy them frozen, uncooked any more? I don’t want a full case of just one kind.
11:34 am - Wed, January 5 2022
Kelly said:
My Uncle Bill andAunt Donna worked for the King place years.Donna and Bill made a LOT of these hand pies. And they lost my cousin Danny when he fell to death at the Hoomestake Mine. My roots are in these hills.
11:35 am - Wed, January 5 2022
Kelly said:
My Uncle Bill andAunt Donna worked for the King place years.Donna and Bill made a LOT of these hand pies. And they lost my cousin Danny when he fell to death at the Hoomestake Mine. My roots are in these hills.
08:52 pm - Thu, August 18 2022
Debbie said:

Well, half the people on here talk about "their" recipe and how good it is. However, none of you have shared YOUR recipes! I'm from Oklahoma and would love to try these.....I just can't get to Leads to do it! Share please?????
08:55 pm - Thu, August 18 2022
Debbie said:

Pastie (pass-tee)

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