This is one of the first recipes I created to fit my calorie-counting diet, and it’s the recipe I think I’m most pleased with! I grew up with Corned Beef Pasties as a staple snack, piping hot straight from the school cafeteria; greasy pastry, warm oozy filling – perfect!! Now, on visits back to the UK, a corned beef bake HAS to be purchased at the first motorway service station outside the airport en route home. They’re not “a thing” here in Quebec, so homemade it has to be. My version uses a whole block of puff pastry, but it’s rolled thinly to reduce the calories and make at least 12 pasties – this gets you a full-sized pasty for 177 calories. When you compare this with the “uk high street equivalent” (you know what I mean!) at 409 calories you can see why I’m particularly happy with my version!
These are great straight from the oven, I prefer them when they’ve cooled a bit, and they’re also very good cold the next day (but re-heated in a toaster bag works well too).
I usually make up a full batch of 12, sometimes include four smaller ones (half portions) and leave a batch unbaked to refrigerate or freeze for baking fresh another day. Once baked, they don’t last long because they’re eaten too quickly! There’s nothing technically difficult in this recipe, but you will have to allocate some time to it – it’s well worth the effort!
These instructions use one tin of corned beef, but the quantity of filling you will get is enough to save half of it for another time. One packet of puff pastry makes 12 pasties using half the total filling.
Start by making the filling. You can make this in advance – one tin of corned beef goes a very long way… enough for two for three batches of puff pastry, so I make up the whole tin and refrigerate or freeze the rest of the filling for another baking session. It keeps for ages. The filling needs to have a greater proportion of potato to corned beef, it might seem like too much potato at first, but I’ve tried different ratios and this makes the best flavour and texture.
Peel and cut up the potatoes (so they cook quicker) and set them to boil. I don’t add salt at this point as you’ll need to season it well later when you can taste and adjust. Finely chop the onion – or you could grate it if you have a texture aversion – and set it aside till the potatoes are cooked. Open the tin of corned beef (hope you didn’t lose the key!) and scrape away any visible fat that sometimes gathers at the corners and edges. Roughly chop it up to help with mixing.
Once the potatoes are soft, drain the water away and return them to the pot to let them air dry for a minute. Add the chopped onions to the pot while the potatoes are still hot, then mash everything together. Do not be tempted to add milk or butter here… the mash needs to be quite dry. It doesn’t have to be a smooth mash either, a few lumps will lend texture to the finished pasty.
Now add the corned beef to the pot and mash together till well blended but not overmixed – you don’t want an amorphous blob of filling, rather you want to be able to see the difference between the potato and the corned beef.
Add onion salt, regular salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Mix with a wooden spoon. You’ll need to be generous with the seasoning or else the filling will be bland. Keep checking till you have it right to your taste.
This can all be done in advance and refrigerated or frozen till you’re ready to make and bake.
Preparing your pastry: I’ve never made my own puff pastry. I keep telling myself I’ll do it one day, a quick rough puff! But I’m not sure I ever will… the pre-made frozen stuff is so good. Defrost the pastry according to the packet instructions, but keep it cold for as long as possible. I prefer the blocks of pastry so that I can roll it to my own dimensions, but the ready rolled ones are ok too, personal preference. I cut the block in half and work with one half at a time keeping the other half in the fridge till I’m ready to use it.
Dust a smooth rolling surface with a little flour and start rolling out, gently and consistently… try not to get the edges to splurge. I want to get at least 6 big pasties out of each half so I’m going for a rectangle measuring 10½ inches by 18 inches, so that you can cut them into 6 equal rectangles of 3½“ x 9” each – see diagram.
You can make your pasties any size you like. I often do some big, some little (and adjust my calorie count accordingly – for little ones, I’ll record it as 0.5 of a pastie). This way the guys can inhale the big ones and I’m fine with the little ones and don’t feel like I’m missing out.
Cut out your rectangles of pastry, brush the edges with a thin line of beaten egg, and spoon some filling onto one side of the rectangle. Shape the filling onto a rough rectangle a little less than 1cm thick at the middle. Fold the pastry over to encase the filling and press the edges together with a fork to seal.
At this point in the process, you can stack the unbaked pasties between layers of parchment and refrigerate or freeze them for another time.
To cook them right away, place the pasties on a parchment-lined baking sheet, score light diagonals across the top, and brush with beaten egg. Bake in a preheated oven at 200C / 400F / Gas 6 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
When they’re golden and crisp, remove them from the oven and take them off the baking sheet onto a wire rack to cool. Now watch them disappear when the family realizes they’re ready!!
Recipe: Corned Beef Pasties 177cals
Makes 12 pasties, with filling to spare (freeze) for another batch later.
You will need a parchment lined baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F / Gas 6
- 1 standard can (340g)of corned beef
- 720g (approx 4 medium) floury potatoes (peeled weight 550g)
- 130g (approx 1 large) onion, finely chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
- 1-2 tsp salt (to taste)
- 1 tsp onion salt
- 1 block of puff pastry (approx weight 400g)
- 1 small egg, lightly beaten
- Peel and chop the potatoes, boil until soft. Drain and return to the pot, allow to steam dry for a minute.
- Peel and finely chop the onion, add to drained potatoes while they’re still hot.
- Mash the potatoes and onions together (but stop before they’re smooth – small lumps are good. Do not be tempted to add milk or butter to the mash – it needs to be dry.
- Remove the corned beef from the tin, scraping away any of the pale fat that sometimes collects at the corners. Roughly chop it up to help with mixing.
- Add the corned beef to the mash and gently mash together. Stop mixing before it becomes a homogeneous mass… you need to be able to see the distinct mash and corned beef and keep some texture.
- Now season with the salt, pepper and onion salt to your taste. You need to be fairly generous or the mixture will be too bland. Add gradually and taste-test till you have it just right.
- Now roll out the pastry into two rectangles measuring 10½ inches by 18 inches, so that you can cut them into 6 equal rectangles of 3½“ x 9” each – see diagram
- Brush a thin line of beaten egg around the edge of each rectangle, then spoon some filling onto one side of the shape. Arrange the filling into a rough rectangle shape just less than 1cm thick at the middle.
- Fold the pastry over to enclose the filling, and press firmly along the outside edge with a fork to seal. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. *
- Using a sharp knife, very lightly score diagonal lines across the tops of the pasties, and brush with beaten egg.
- *At this point you can stack the uncooked pasties between layers of parchment paper and refrigerate or freeze to bake later.
- Bake at 200C / 400F / Gas 6 for 15 – 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and crisp.
- Remove from the baking sheet onto a wire cooling rack.