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I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bessie's Original Homemade Pasties

Bounded on the north by Lake Superior, on the east by St. Marys' River and on the south by Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, fresh fish is in abundance, especially whitefish in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The residents are referred to as Yoppers with many of them being of Finnish descent. Michigan's Upper Peninsula is also known for pasties (pronounced pass-tees). A pastie is a nutritious meal that was introduced to the Upper Peninsula in the mid 1800's by Cornish and Scandinavian immigrants who came to work in the iron ore and copper mines. The miners carried homemade pasties in a metal lunch pail. When the lid was removed and turned upside down a candle was used to heat the pasty. There is an annual pasty festival in Calumet in early July and pasties are so popular that many visitors to the Upper Peninsula take large amount of them home!


Ask anyone in St. Ignace where to go for the best pasties and the answer will be Bessie's. Bessie's "Original" Homemade Pasties in St. Ignace, Michigan has been at the same location for nearly 50 years. It was started by Bessie and Pee Wee Phelps in 1958. The business has been run by their son Pat and his wife for the past 27 years.


Traditional ingredients for the filling are diced steak, fine sliced onion and potato. Rutabaga and parsley are sometimes added. Carrots although often included in American pasties are a sign of inferior quality in Cornwall. The pastie filling is tucked inside the folded crust which is then sealed with a distinctive fold originally used as a handle. Miners could eat the pastie holding the folded portion without getting the rest of the pasty dirty then discard the dirtied folded portion.

Bessie's makes their crust from 100% vegetable shortening and Gold Metal flour using a recipe that has been handed down for years. They have earned the title of Best in the UP! We ordered the Yopper Man Pastie Plate that came with gravy and a side of fresh coleslaw for $9.95 to share for lunch. The filling consisted of lean steak, potatoes, carrots and sweet onions bake in their flaky, melt in your mouth crust. Trust me on this one, pasties are very filling! They are down home frugal cooking made with inexpensive ingredients.

Although they say the crust is flaky, found it to be less so than the pie crust recipe I use and I do recall reading somewhere that a denser crust should be used. The filling was quite good but needed a bit more seasoning so when I make these at home I'm going to kick the filling up a notch likely with a bit of Montreal Steak seasoning. Even my husband said they were a bit bland. Now in perspective and knowing the history behind the pasties, originally there wouldn't have been much more for seasoning other than salt and pepper. This really isn't a dish to fancy up too much. Keep it simple!

Pasty Recipe

3 lb potatoes, diced
1 c carrots, diced
2 c onions, diced
2 c rutabaga, diced
2 lb steak, diced*
12 4oz pie crust dough balls

Mix filling together. Roll each of the dough balls into a 10 - inch circle. Put about 10 oz of (a generous heaping cup) of filling on the dough rough. Fold the dough over the filling. Crimp the edge. Bake for one hour at 350ºF.

* can substitute diced fish or ground beef

5 food lovers commented:

mel said...

That pastie with gravy looks scrumptious! Gosh, I'm basically drooling now LOL too bad we don't have that being sold in shops here, thanks to your recipe, I might be able to taste that myself :)

Atniz said...

It looks yummy. Thanks for the recipe. I might try it when have time, maybe end of this week.

Merydith said...

I am drooling here. Will surely browse to your recipe and would try some of them. Thanks for the visit.

Lis said...

Glad to see other people love Bessie's too! We always stop at Bessie's when we go to the U.P. It's yooper by the way. I just stopped there yesterday on my way home to lower Michigan and brought home six. Warming them up now for dinner now. YUM!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipe! I brought home a variety of pasties from Bessies over the weekend and I'm looking forward to baking them tonight!