Home Cooking: Michigan Pasties

By: Michael Fossbakk | April 22, 2020

Beef and pepper jack cheese pasty. Photo courtesy of Uncle Peter's Pasties.

It’s tough to imagine a Michigander that has never eaten a pasty. The Cornish pasty is ingrained in Michigan culture, particularly the culture of the Upper Peninsula. See, the pasty comes from the Cornwall region of England, an area known for its mining operations. For hundreds of years, miners would often eat pasties for lunch as the shape and structure of this meat-filled pastry made them easy to handle and transport.

In the 19th century, the Upper Peninsula was home to many Cornish immigrants, who were working in the iron mines. Thus, pasties became a staple of the Michigan region, too. Typically, a Cornish pasty consists of rutabaga, onions, potatoes, and beef. Variations have been made thanks to the popular baked good being introduced to new immigrants. A Finnish pasty, for example, might substitute carrots for rutabaga.

Today, pasty shops can be found in just about every corner of The Mitten State, but if you want to try making your own pasties at home, we’ve sought out a few recipes.

Lake Superior Magazine has shared two recipes. The first recipe from Mercella Norman uses a ground pasty meat mix of beef and pork that favors the beef. There are also potatoes, carrots, celery, onions and more. The second recipe comes from Holy Spirit Church and follows Norman’s fairly closely but also adds rutabaga to the filling.

You can find all kinds of recipes online from people wanting to put their own spin on the classic. Changing out the filling ingredients is seen as controversial by pasty purists, but can often lead to some interesting flavors.

If you’re not in the position to be baking up a pasty storm in your kitchen right now, there are places in Metro Detroit that are still serving carryout customers during the COVID-19 shutdown in Michigan.

  • Superior Pasties in Livonia are serving hot, ready-to-eat and refrigerated pasties for pickup. Call ahead.
  • Barb’s Pasties and Pizza in Clawson — sold hot, cold, or frozen. If you’re ordering on a Sunday, hot pasties are not available. While you’re there, why not grab a pizza and salad, too?
  • Uncle Peter’s Pasties in Clarkston, Lake Orion and Shelby Township touts 22 pasty flavors available to order for takeout and delivery
  • Calumet Pasty Company in Roseville is staying open for carryout orders. The good thing is they are also a Polish kitchen, so check out the rest of their menu while you’re at it.

Marquee Marque Pasties in Clinton Township…first off, great name. Second, in addition to beef, chicken, kielbasa, and veggie pasties, they also make apple, blueberry, and cherry pies. Dinner and dessert!