Cooking with Kids: Cornish Pasties

"Giving your children the right amount of the heart-healthy oils is just as important as keeping them from eating lard." —Missy Chase Lapine, from 'The Sneaky Chef'

part of a Serious ThanksgivingThat's funny, because in preparation for Thanksgiving, I just sent my wife and daughter to pick up some leaf lard. We buy our lard from a local farm, Skagit River Ranch. It's certified organic and, if you care about this sort of thing, loaded with the exact same monounsaturated fat found in Lapine's beloved olive and canola oils. More important, Skagit's lard is of superb quality, elevates every food it touches, and is essential to the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving table: Cornish pasties.

Why pasties? My wife, Laurie, traces her roots to Penzance, Cornwall—known for its pirates and pasties. And pasties are very much in the spirit of Thanksgiving: comforting, starchy, nap-inducing.

The proper Cornish pasty is a football-shaped pastry crust (made with lard and butter, although margarine and shortening are frankly also authentic), stuffed with beef, sliced potatoes, onion, and rutabaga. The filling is never precooked. I like mine with HP sauce, which is to the U.K. as A1 is to the U.S. While I'm not dogmatic about local eating, it does seem appropriate to the holiday, and Seattle-area farmers grow all of these ingredients in November. (Not counting HP sauce.)

When Laurie and I visited Penzance a few years ago, before our daughter, Iris, was born, we took to snacking on child-size pasties, often labeled "for the cheel." So since Iris's first Thanksgiving, when she was 11 months old, I've been making her a little pasty. This year she'll help make her own. Maybe she'll master the crimping of the dough, something I've never gotten quite right in several years of pasty-making—our tradition is the top crimp; the Burton family frowns upon the calzone-style side crimp (as seen in the Wikipedia entry for "pasty").

As for side dishes, I'll probably make Michael Romano's great hashed brussels sprouts again. There will be pumpkin pie. That will be plenty.

How does your family monkey with Thanksgiving?

About the author: Matthew Amster-Burton lives in Seattle. His work appears frequently in the Seattle Times and Seattle magazine. He also maintains the blog Roots and Grubs. His favorite food is pad Thai.

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