Hobbits aren’t known for adding bells and whistles to their mixing bowls. A sprinkle of sage – or here, rosemary – never hurt Frodo or his Halfling comrades, however, and sets this particular pasty apart from those baked outside of Farmer Maggot’s kitchen.
My lack of a pie plate caused some good, old-fashioned improvisation, and thus pointed me to the art of the pasty.
A word concerning pasties: this buttery, golden, and folded-pie-esque morsel has relatively unknown origins, but is documented as far back as the 13th century during the reign of Henry III. Herring-filled pasties were considered a payment to the King from the townspeople of Great Yarmouth. Fast forward to the 17th and 18th centuries, and the pasty became a meal more appealing to the working class desiring a hot and filling victual to provide energy for long hours as tin miners and similar on-the-go folk who bore no utensils for cutting and spooning (source).
Pasties aren’t particularly referenced by Tolkien, but I wouldn’t doubt that Farmer Maggot’s table held them every so often during a wintertime dinner gathering, or for when fellow hobbits arrive at his doorstep to repent for stealing mushrooms off his lands, in their more youthful years.
Rubbing rosemary into the pasty crust provides a robust scent to your hobbit hole as well as a tangy hint to the course once cooked. I took one modern liberty in the crust and reverted to oil instead of butter, as I did not have enough butter on hand. Both work equally well. The filling is good and hearty, containing the most important item in a hobbit’s larders – mushrooms – as well as onion, ‘taters, carrots, and a few simple, old-style seasonings for interest. Even Gollum can’t resist the temptation of Maggot’s homemade delights – and, if all goes well, neither will you or your family and friends.
Farmer Maggot’s Rosemary-Vegetable Pasties
For the pastry:
3 cups flour
1 cup oil
2 tsp salt
4 T cold milk
1-2 T dried rosemary
For the filling:
1 onion, finely diced
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
3/4 cup shredded carrots
1 potato, diced
1/2 cup shredded cheese
2 T melted butter
1-2 tsp garlic powder
Generous dose of salt and pepper, to taste
ASSEMBLY: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare dough first. Mix flour, salt, and rosemary in a medium-sized bowl; add oil and milk, and stir until a cohesive and non-sticky dough forms. Roll into a ball, wrap in plastic, and stow in the fridge whilst prepping vegetables.
Chop and shred vegetables and place in a large bowl. Add garlic, salt, and pepper, then add melted butter and cheese and toss until vegetables are evenly coated. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Remove dough from fridge and break into four even sections. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or brushed/sprayed with butter, flatten each ball of dough into a circle about 7 inches across. Add about 1/4-1/3 cup of filling to one side, leaving about a half-inch between filling and the edge of the pastry. Fold the other end of the circle over the veggies (like a taco) and crimp edges where they meet – use a fork to close edges further. Poke top of the pastry with a fork or slash a few times with a knife to create ventilation holes. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until an even golden-brown in color. Serve warm.
Makes 4 pasties.
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