Truro Pasties

A big weekly market used to be held in Truro, the county town of Cornwall. The market sold livestock, cereals, butter, cheese and cream, leather and cloth, china, glass, pots and pans and whatever fruit, vegetables, fish, cakes or other foods that the local inhabitants might bring in. There was always a stall that sold fish pasties, kept hot in a tin oven over a little fire, for everyone’s dinner. These were made not individually but in a long strip, with the head and tail of each fish protruding from the pastry. The stallholder would cut off the number of fish required by a customer and put the rest back to keep hot. St Austell, north-east of Truro, was well known for similar pasties made with skinless sausages.

Ingredients

  • 6 mackerel or pilchards, gutted, or 12 skinless sausages
  • ½ to 1 lb (¼ to ½ kg) puff pastry or flaky pastry
  • 1 tablespoon mild mustard, such as Tewkesbury or Urchfont, mixed with 1 tablespoon milk or cream
  • 2 teaspoons dried tarragon or chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped mint
  • 1 beaten egg

Method

Roll out the pastry into 2 oblongs, each about 14 inches (36 cm) long and 8 inches (20 cm) wide. If pilchards or sausages are being used, make the oblongs half the width.

On one of the oblongs lay the fish ¼ to ½ inch (0.5 to 1 cm) apart, heads all pointing one way, leaving about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of pastry at each end. Spread the upper side of each fish with the mustard mixture and sprinkle with the herbs. Put the second piece of pastry over the top and press down between each fish and along the ends. The heads and tails will protrude on either side. If you prefer to remove the heads and tails, seal all the pastry edges.

If you are using sausages, lay them in pairs along the pastry strip and omit the tarragon. Leave the ends just protruding from the pastry to become deliciously crisp and brown.

Brush the pastry over with the beaten egg. Bake in the middle of the oven at 450°F (230°C, Gas Mark 8) for 30 minutes.

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