Saturday, 28 April 2012

Big British Pasty with Northern Irish Champ (Food for Diamond Jubilee Celebrations)

It can scarcely have failed to escape the attention of anyone in the United Kingdom - and many far beyond - that 2012 is the year in which Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her Diamond Jubilee. Celebrations have been taking place, are taking place and will continue to take place throughout the year but it is on Tuesday 5th June that the United Kingdom formally celebrates the occasion with a special national holiday.

A big part of any celebration is of course the food we eat. While most of us can only dream of sitting at the table to partake of one of the many lush state banquets which will take place, this does not mean that we cannot create and enjoy meals appropriate to the occasion. Bearing this in mind, I wanted in the run up to the big day to look at some simple food creations that anyone can prepare at home, symbolic of the Queen, the occasion, or simply of the United Kingdom.  Where better to start in this respect than with a simple, inexpensive dish, the principal ingredients of which represent the four component parts of Her Majesty's Kingdom.

The beef in this pasty is Scottish, the pork is English and the cheese is Welsh cheddar. The prepared pasty is then served with that delicious, creamy comfort food from Northern Ireland, champ, and a glass of Victory Ale, created to commemorate the achievements of the great British naval hero, Admiral Lord Nelson.

Full Ingredients List for Two Servings

4oz Scottish minced beef
4oz English minced pork
2oz Welsh cheddar cheese
8oz puff pastry
Salt and black pepper
Flour for rolling pastry
Beaten egg for glazing
1lb floury/starchy potatoes
3 scallions/spring onions
2oz butter, plus extra for greasing baking tray
2 fl oz milk
White pepper


Put your oven on to preheat to 200C/400F and grease a baking tray with some butter.

Dust a clean, dry surface with flour and roll out the pastry to a square of slightly more than 13". Use a 13" dinner plate as a template to cut a circle in the pastry. Mix the beef and the pork together and season with salt and black pepper before laying on one half of the pastry - leaving a 1" border - as shown in the photograph below.

The cheese should then be coarsely grated and carefully laid on top of the meat.

Glaze the border of the pasty around the meat and cheese with a little beaten egg. Fold the empty half of the pastry over the filling and carefully crimp the edge to seal. Be wary of stretching the pastry too much - you don't want it bursting in the oven!

A spatula or fish slice is ideal for carefully lifting the pasty on to the baking tray. Glaze it fairly liberally all over with more beaten egg and be sure to make a 1" slit in the top with a sharp knife. This is imperative to allow steam to vent during cooking. Otherwise, the pasty will burst. Put the tray in to the oven and cook the pasty for about thirty-five minutes, until the pastry is beautifully crisp and golden.

When the pasty has been in the oven for about fifteen minutes, it is time to start preparing the champ. The potatoes should be peeled and chopped in to fairly large chunks before being added to a pot of cold, salted water. Bring the water to a boil before reducing the heat to achieve a simmer for about twenty-five minutes until the potatoes are soft.

When the pasty is ready, remove it from the oven and leave it to rest for about ten to fifteen minutes while the champ is completed.

Just before you drain the potatoes, chop the scallions/spring onions and add them to a small saucepan with the milk. Gently heat to bring to a simmer.

Drain the potatoes through a colander and return them to the empty pot. Leave them in the hot pot for a couple of minutes to help them dry out before mashing them with 1oz of the butter. Stir in the milk mix and season to taste with some more salt and white pepper.

Carefully cut the rested pasty in half before transferring to two serving plates with a spatula.

The champ can now be spooned on to the plates beside the pasty halves and half the remaining ounce of butter added to the top of each pile for some extra creaminess and Northern Irish authenticity.

I hope this is a dish you will try at home, whether to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee or simply to enjoy a tasty and nourishing meal. Please also come back soon to find more food ideas relevant to the big occasion in the run up to 5th June, all interspersed between the more usual and universal postings to this blog.


  1. I've never had a pasty, but it sounds good.

    1. Thank you, Mireya. I hope it is something you will try and that you enjoy it very much.