Sunday, May 19, 2013

Timeless Goodness

One of the nice things about going back East to visit at my Mom's is that I often get to talk cooking with family members who are equally passionate about food. In some cases I'm pretty sure they are more passionate than I am.

One of these is NoHandle and he offered to do another of his wonderful guest posts. Read on and find out what he has put together because I think you will find this the perfect thing to bring on picnics, as we did.

NoHandle writes:
It all started as I was reading “The Minstrel Boy” a sequel to “Blue Bells of Scotland” by Laura Vosika. The tale is about medieval Scotland, at least in part, and they talked about a portable meal called a Bridie, which seemed to be the Scottish version of the Pastie, but without potatoes or other root vegetables. The author of Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie, hails from the place in Scotland where these are famous. One suggestion for the origin of the name is that these were popular finger food at wedding celebrations.

I was casting about for something to blog about, and I had an up-coming pot-luck party to provision, so this looked like a great opportunity. I also had some leftover puff pastry sheets, called for in one of the recipes, so using them was another plus. If you are unfamiliar with Bridies or Pasties (I was) I will tell you that it is a light dough surrounding a seasoned ground meat center. It takes a bit over an hour to prepare, with most of the time devoted to baking the finished product. I should also warn you that sampling the meat before adding it to the pastry can be addictive. It is an experience much like tasting raw cookie dough, if you swing that way, but meat-based and cooked. You have been warned.

I have blended this recipe (“Forfar Bridies”) from two sources, both claiming a measure of authenticity. The differences are minor, and reader comments were incorporated too.

The first thing you should do is defrost the pastry sheets. This is said to take about 40 minutes, but may be 10 minutes less. Once that is started, I saute the onions in a cast iron skillet, although the original recipes called for cooking the meat first. I also chose ground beef for the first try, mostly because I'm the only one in the household who likes lamb. I'm going to try a blend next time, with other consumers. Once the onions are soft, add the ground meat and seasonings. When the meat is browned, drain most of the fats and juices (it's mostly fat) and add the flour, stirring it around to form a roue. Then add the beef stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Check the taste, adding salt and pepper if needed (I go light on the salt and heavier on the pepper, but that's just me). This would be a good time to pre-heat the oven to 375. Remove the skillet from the heat and let the meat mixture cool while you prepare the pastry sheet(s).

The recipe calls for ½ cup of the meat mixture for each Bridie, and thinks you can get six from a frozen pastry sheet. I couldn't; I may have used a few more ounces of beef, but the pastry was a problem. I was able to build four full size Bridies and one demi-Bridie from the scraps. This is where indulging in tasting may pay off, you don't need as much filling. On my second attempt, I managed five full-sized ones.

The other issue is fitting ½ cup of filling in a six-inch round of pastry dough. I had to stretch the dough some to even partially seal the product, and even then it was, shall we say, rustic. This is not a bad thing, as the filling must be vented anyway and this just adds to the venting opportunities to the two or so holes where you pierce the dough. If Peter Pan walked up to a passel of Bridies, he would recognize the ones with two vents as containing onions, and those with a single vent as being “plain”.

You can be creative here so people can distinguish different fillings, if you choose to make more than one kind, like one vent for beef and two for lamb. If you want to make the entire thing from scratch (of course you do), a flaky pie crust is said to work well, and will provide plenty of pastry. Another option is to make more smaller ones; I suspect that three-inch circles would take a tablespoon or so of filling, perhaps two. This size would be better as cocktail snacks as a full Bridie would be enough for a lunch for many. Let me know if you find a size and proportion that works better for you.

Once the pastries are sealed (using the usual water method) apply an egg white wash, and bake for about 35 minutes. Remove when “golden brown and delicious.” Serve as quickly as you can, especially at altitude. They are best piping hot. If there are leftovers, you can freeze them in individual plastic bags and reheat in the microwave. About two minutes should do it. Leave them right-side up when reheating or the pastry will get flattened and a bit soggy; they will still taste great.

The Bridie was the Hot Pocket® of it's day, and can be eaten that way today. Enjoy!

The Bridie
makes about 5-6 lunch sized Bridies

• 1 tablespoon of butter
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 12 ounces ground lamb (or beef, or a combination)
• 1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons beef broth
• 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
• ½ tablespoon dry mustard
• 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
• 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
• 1 package or frozen puff pastry or 1 recipe flaky pastry for double-crust pie
• 1 egg white, lightly beaten

In a large heavy skillet (I prefer cast iron) over medium heat, saute the onion. Add and cook lamb (or beef) until evenly brown; drain excess fat. Add the flour and stir for a minute or two. Remove from heat, and stir in beef broth, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Allow the meat mixture to cool for about 20 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, roll pastry out to 1/8 inch thickness (or unfold thawed puff pastry sheet). Cut into 6 inch rounds. Place approximately 1/2 cup filling on each. Stretch and fold the pastry over the filling, and crimp edges to seal. Brush lightly with beaten egg white, and cut two or three slits in the top to allow steam to escape. Place on a lightly-greased (baking spray will do) baking sheet.

Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown.

To take on a picnic, bring in an insulated bag, or put into a casserole, wrap that in newspapers and put into a cardboard box lined with crumpled newspaper, or into a cooler and fill in with crumpled newspaper.


  1. I think a Birdie sounds like it belongs in my basket, several actually 😉

  2. Anonymous12:17 AM

    A bridie? I'd marry a woman who would make make me that. ♨