Welcome to the first installment of a semi-regular series that shines the spotlight on one of Michigan’s most delightful gastronomical treasures: the pasty. The pasty is Michigan’s iconic and delectable “pot pie without the pot“, considered “an identifying cultural mark that gives Michigan, especially the Upper Peninsula, its own identity.”
Here is where the Awesome Mitten community can share Michigan’s favorite pasty recipes and vendors, as we review some of those Pretty Awesome Pasties sold throughout our fair State.
- Made famous in the UP, pasties originate from the Cornwall region of England.
- In the mid to late 1800s, Finnish and British immigrants adopted the pasty for use in UP copper mines.
- More facts about Cornish (UK) pasties are here, including this nugget: a good pasty was thought to be strong enough to drop unharmed down a mine shaft.
Rating Michigan’s Pasties: Introducing the Key Pasty Indicators
A main feature of these blog posts will be reviews of Michigan-made pasties using a proprietary rating system developed just for the Awesome Mitten blog.
The following five Key Pasty Indicators (KPIs) are unique standards carefully developed as pasty measurement criteria. We’ll be regularly rating pasties made by some of Michigan’s vendors using this KPI system (which goes from one to 11 just to keep things interesting!).
Key Pasty Indicators (KPIs)
- Crust to Filling Ratio – is there a good balance between the outer pastry crust and the savory filling?
- Filling Consistency/Flavor – is the filling mostly recognizable chunks; also how are the texture, ingredients, spice and overall flavor?
- Price Consideration
- Flake-O-Meter – how flaky is the crust?
- Overall Savory Index
Rating Uncle Peter’s Pasties
To get us started, our first review is of a beef pasty from Uncle Peter’s Pasties in Orion, Michigan. The beef pasty reviewed was made up of potato, flour, beef, lard, butter, onions, carrots, rutabaga, salt and pepper.
About Uncle Peter’s Pasties
Uncle Peter’s Pasties makes approximately 2,000 pasties per week. We found out, via this Oakland Press article, that Uncle Peter’s pasties are made with hormone- and antibiotic-free meats, as well as Amish-grown chicken and turkey. Their pasties are prepared with preservative-free vegetables, and no hydrogenated shortening or preservatives are used in the pastry dough.
Generously sized at 12 ounces, they offer beef, chicken, turkey, broccoli and cheese, spinach and feta cheese, buffalo, and venison pasties.
Uncle Peter’s KPIs:
- Crust to Filling Ratio = 9 … Excellent balance between pastry and filling.
- Filling Consistency/Flavor = 10 … We easily recognized carrots, rutabaga and onions, along with delicious beef, spice and overall flavor. We are always happy to see rutabagas in the filling. Kudos, Uncle Peter’s!
- Price Consideration = 6 … At $7 a pasty, this seems like a pretty steep price point.
- Flake-O-Meter = 8 … Crust flakiness was adequate.
- Overall Savory Index = 9 … Overall, this was one delicious pasty!
Based on the criteria above, we give Uncle Peter’s Pasties an overall KPI of 8.6, which rounds up to 9 – well done, Uncle Peter!
Our next post will offer up another review and more highlights about pasties. In the meantime, please share your ideas for pasty vendors to review, recipes or any Pretty Awesome Pasty-related fact!
Beth Baerman & Julie Rogier, Contributing Writers