“Bridies! Hot bridies!” A high-pitched screech cut through the rumble and racket of the hall, and Brianna turned to see an old woman elbowing her way robustly through the crowd, a steaming tray hung round her neck and a wooden spatula in hand.
The heavenly scent of fresh hot dough and spiced meat cut through the other pungencies in the hall, noticeable as the old woman’s calling. It had been a long time since breakfast, and Brianna dug in her pocket, feeling saliva fill her mouth.
Drums of Autumn
Though it uses the same short crust pastry as a Cornish pasty, a bridie’s traditional filling of beef, onion, and suet is lighter in texture than that of its southern cousin, which also contains potato and rutabaga. I have also included a vegetarian filling, because, while authenticity is important, most people these days understand the benefits of a vegetable-rich diet. If Claire were here, I’m sure she would approve.
Makes 8 (4 meat, 4 veggie)
In a medium bowl, mix together the minced steak, half the onions, 4 tablespoons butter, 1½ teaspoons salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. In a separate bowl, mix the potatoes, turnips, carrots, cheese, and red pepper flakes with the remaining onions, butter, salt, and pepper. Cover both bowls with a plate or plastic and refrigerate.
On a lightly floured board, roll out half of the pastry into a circle. Turn and loosen the dough occasionally as you continue to roll the pastry out into a circle or square that is an even ⅛ inch thick. Cut four 6-inch circles from the dough, then roll each circle to lengthen it into a slight oval.
Pile one-fourth of the meat filling (packed ½ cup) onto the top center of each oval, leaving a 1-inch border. Wet the top edge of the pastry sparingly with water, and fold the bottom half over to make a half-moon. Press the edges firmly together and crimp to seal well (see Notes). With a sharp knife, make a slit in the top of each pie to vent steam.
Repeat with the remaining pastry and the vegetarian filling to make another four pies.
Wrap and refrigerate the filled pies for at least 30 minutes, and up to overnight.
Move the racks to the upper- and lower-center rungs and heat the oven to 400°F.
Lightly beat the egg with 1 teaspoon water. Brush the tops of the bridies sparingly with the egg wash and bake on parchment paper–lined baking sheets for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown, turning and rotating the sheets halfway through. Cool at least 10 minutes on a wire rack.
Serve hot or cold. Pack into a basket along with a tartan blanket and flask of Laoghaire’s Whiskey Sour for an afternoon picnic on an imagined Highland hillside.
Store cooked bridies in the fridge up to 3 days.