June 19, 2024

Yooper Pasties

A 'Yooper' is a term for someone who is from or lives in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. This variation of a hand pie is called a pasty and is made of a melange of root vegetables and meat baked in pie crust. Yoopers who worked in the mines long ago would take these portable hand pies for their meals although they are still available in restaurants and roadside stands all over the UP nowadays. There is debate whether these pasties stem from our Cornish or Finnish ancestors, but each family had their own special recipe and used whatever ingredients they had on hand.

Yooper Pasties

Yooper Pasties

Serves: 8-16 | Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 30-55 minutes 

 
Ingredients

For the Pastry Crust:

  • Use your favorite gluten free double pie crust recipe – you’ll need enough to make eight 10-inch rounds of 1/8-inch thick dough. Try Better Batter’s recipe for Perfect Pie Crust or try the vegetable shortening method described below.  

 For the Filling:

  • Note: There is really no set recipe for the types of root vegetables which can go into a pasty. Peeled and diced rutabaga is common and pairs well with starchy potato and onion. I made some with grated turnip as well.  Use all ground beef or a mix of ground beef and ground pork. Some recipes call for finely chopped chuck roast but I prefer the ease of ground meat. Mix and match filling ingredients with what you have on hand, just like mining families did long ago.
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and diced fine
  • 1 medium onion, diced fine
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 small turnip, grated
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

 Others:

  • Rolling pin 
  • 4 sheets of parchment paper (two for rolling and two to line cooking sheets)

 
Instructions

Pie Crust Prep. Make your pie dough using your favorite recipe or follow these instructions for a easy all-shortening recipe. In a large bowl, place diced vegetable shortening and boiling water. The hot water will melt the shortening. Add 3 cups flour and salt and mix with a spatula to form a soft dough.

Divide in half and wrap well in plastic wrap.

Chill dough at least 90 minutes to firm up.

Make the Filling. In a large bowl, place diced potatoes, onion, carrot, and turnip. Add ground beef and break up into very small pieces with your hands. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Gently mix with clean hands to combine ingredients.

Set aside filling while you roll out dough.

Preheat and Prepare. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Roll. Divide pie dough into 8-16 pieces. * pieces will get you a pretty large pastie – suitable for a meal. 16 pieces will get you the perfect size to pack along on trips or lunches. 

Roll pieces of dough, sprinkled with just a tiny bit of extra flour, in between two pieces of parchment paper. Dough thickness will be thin, about 1/8-inch thick, into approximately a 10-inch circle (for large) or 5 inch circle (for small) .

Peel back top parchment paper. Using a measuring cup, scoop about 1 cup of filling (for large) or 1/2c filling (for small) from the mixing bowl and mound filling just off-center in pie crust. Fold over and crimp edge to seal.

Transfer to parchment-lined cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough pieces. I was able to get 4 large or 8 small pasties on a cookie sheet for baking. If necessary, chill second cookie sheet of pasties while the first one bakes.

Bake. Cut several slits on top of crust to vent steam if making large pasties. Bake pasties for 55-60 minutes (for large) or 25-30 minutes (for small), or until golden brown. Repeat with remaining unbaked pasties.  These are delicious served hot or even room temperature (on a trip). If making ahead, Cool completely on wire racks, then wrap tightly in foil.  If freezing, place in a plastic zip top bag. If cooking from frozen, it is best to thaw before re-heating in a 400 degree oven. Yooper pasties are traditionally served with ketchup. Makes 8-16.

Note. Some recipes call for making these hand pies larger – using a soup pot lid as a guide for the size of the pie crust round! Folded over, these massive pasties are more the size of calzones if you make them that large, but the baking time is approximately the same.
 

Adapted from Taste of Home and personal recipes. This recipe was originally tested and adapted from a recipe published by Jennifer Lathom in June 2020. Original photo of food by Jennifer Bigler.