Pasties and Beef Gravy | Make Ahead Monday

Way back in 2008, one of the first recipes I ran on Foodie With Family was for my beloved pasties. (Pronounced PAH-steez, not PAY-steez, thankyouverymuch!) Today’s Make Ahead Monday recipe is a feature of those absolutely wonderful meat pies along with a (tada!) printable recipe and another for *gasp* beef gravy. Read on for why I’m all a-twitter over the gravy.

I was talking with my stepmom, Val, on the phone the other day when she said, “Oh no! Beccy! I have to go!” I said, “Are you alright, Val?” She responded, “I forgot I have to pick up our pasty order from the church. They’re going to close in a couple of minutes.”

All my sympathy and concern that I had queued up for her flew right out the window.

She got to scoot half a mile down the road to pick up a half dozen of the finest Finnish grandmother produced, hand-made, Yooper pasties. I got to drool.

I indulged in a certain amount of self-pity and then roused myself to action. I wheeled on my heel when my husband entered the room and announced, “There WILL be pasties. And it WILL be soon!” imperiously.

While on the whole I find it against my nature to march around making pronouncements, pasties warrant a massive exception. I queened it up big time.

“You must find me a rutabaga! A big one!”

My husband looked at me askance.

“…And we’ll need ketchup!” I added in my most royal tones. Then I said, “You know, Val eats her pasties with gravy. I love her anyway.”

That is where he revolted. “Hey. I know you Yoopers eat ‘em with ketchup and everything, but why? I’d give anything for some gravy with a pasty.”

My every fiber screamed, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”*

 *And here, perhaps, it is time for a brief cultural lesson. People who live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan are referred to –both by themselves and those below the bridge- as Yoopers. Yoopers love pasties. But even more than Yoopers love pasties, they love ketchup on pasties. Why? I haven’t the foggiest idea, but we do. And the quickest way to find out whether someone is a Yooper by passing them a gravy boat and a ketchup jar. Watch them carefully. A moment’s hesitation, a feint for the gravy boat, and you know without a doubt that you are not in the presence of a honest-to-goodness Yooper.

It was my turn to look askance. And askew. And aghast. “What do you MEAN you want gravy?”

He responded, quite reasonably, “I’m not saying YOU can’t have ketchup, but really, we’re talking about a meat pie with potatoes and stuff. What could be better on that than gravy?”

I had to admit that I didn’t have anything other  a traditional leg to stand upon in the argument.  There was no way I could deny him gravy. I’m not ashamed to admit, though, that my head spun a bit as I whipped up the beef gravy. Through my head whirled jokes family members had made about gravy-on-pasty eaters. I remembered a story my dad told about being at a county fair and overhearing some folks talk about being from the U.P. He then approached the couple and said, “Excuse me. I just have one thing to ask. Ketchup or Gravy?” They clapped him on the shoulder and said, “KETCHUP!” They became fast friends.

I put pasties on plates. I put ketchup and –horrors- a gravy boat on the table and watched quietly as all my offspring and my husband poured gravy on their pasties. I reached for the ketchup and scooped a generous portion onto my plate. (Another argument, but one for another day, is whether you put your ketchup on the side or on top of the pasties. What can I say? It’s cold and very rural. We do what we can to keep things interesting.) And then. Then they looked at me and used on me the argument I always use on them, “Aren’t you even going to try it?”

I sensed my authority hanging in the balance and said, “Oh ALRIGHT. Gimme the gravy boat. I’ll try it.” (I was less than gracious about it, but there’s only so much going back on tradition a woman can take with equanimity.) I poured a bit on the corner of my pasty and took a hearty fork full. And then I about died.

It really was not bad. In fact, it was pretty alright. Oh dang. It was good.


I won’t have you believe I chucked my Yooper card and ate it wholesale with gravy. Oh no. I still had my ketchup, too, but I grudgingly admit the gravy will be on the table every time I make pasties.


Yoopers, look away.

In this fresh printable version of the old Yooper Pasty post, I’ve included a lovely beef gravy recipe. Just in case, ya know, you wanna freak out a Yooper you love. Or eat a pasty with it. Sigh.



Pasties and Beef Gravy | Make Ahead Monday
This is comfort food at its finest; hand held meat and potatoes pies with rutabaga, carrots and onions. Traditionally, these pasties are served with loads of ketchup, but folks have been known to love (read:inhale) them when covered with good beef gravy, too.
Serves: 16 large pasties
For the Filling:
  • 1 large rutabaga and 1 small rutabaga
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 medium onions
  • 8 medium potatoes, preferably a waxy variety like Yukon golds or reds
  • 4 pounds lean ground beef
  • salt and pepper to taste
For the Crust:
  • enough sturdy pie dough for eight double crust pies (or eight boxes prepared refrigerated pie crusts) I use a double or triple batch of this pie crust.
For the Beef Gravy:
  • 4 tablespoons butter or beef fat drippings
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons browning sauce
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • a pinch of thyme and granulated onion
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Slice a sliver off one end of the rutabaga so that it stands sturdily on your cutting board. Then use your biggest, sharpest knife to lob it in half. If it’s freaking you out too much to try to hold a slippery, wax covered, round and really hard vegetable while trying to cut it, feel free to whack it in half with a hatchet or an axe. Just don’t do it on your kitchen counter!
  3. Once you have the brute opened, lay it on the flat side and dismantle it further so your original sphere is in quarters. Take another little bit off the bottom so you can stand the quarters up on their ends and use another sharp knife to remove the peel from the sides.
  4. Cut the rutabaga into ¼? slices and stack them like a deck of cards. Slice them into ¼? strips that will then be cut into ¼? cubes.
  5. Peel and dice the carrots, onions, and potatoes in the same way. Combine all diced vegetables in a gigantic mixing bowl. Break the lean beef over the top, add salt and pepper, and use your hands to mix thoroughly.
  6. Roll out a piece of pie crust to a diameter between 8? and 10?. Lay on a pie plate with the crust hanging over the lip of the plate by about ¼?. Use your hands or a large spoon to transfer as much filling onto the crust as you can, mounding and pressing down lightly with your hands, to fill the half of the crust that is hanging over the plate.
  7. Now fold the empty part of the pie crust over the filling, pinch the seams together, transfer to your countertop and crimp the edges with a fork.
  8. Transfer to a parchment lined pan and slice a couple of small vents into the top of each pasty.
  9. Slide those pans into the oven and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Since pasties don’t traditionally get an egg glaze, they won’t be a shiny brown when done, but a deep crispy looking golden brown.
  10. Serve immediately with beef gravy (see below) or cool completely, wrap with foil and freeze for later use.
To Reheat from Frozen:
  1. Place foil wrapped pasty in a preheated 350°F oven on a rimmed baking sheet for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, open the foil so the top crust of the pasty is exposed and heat for an additional 10 minutes, or until hot all the way through.
To Make the Gravy:
  1. Melt the butter or pan drippings in a heavy skillet or saucepan over medium high heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking often until bubbly and fragrant smelling, at least 2 minutes. Whisk in the cold beef stock, thyme and granulated onion and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Taste the gravy, adjust the seasonings and serve hot.


  1. Valerie says

    Ha!! Welcome to the dark (i.e., correct) side of the pasty! I am no longer alone! Actually, when Jim’s brother Tom and his wife Linda visit up here, the ketchup/gravy usage falls along gender lines. The guys, they loves their ketchup!

  2. Deborah Jennings says

    I am so ready to make some of these. Well, all except for the rutabagas. I don’t care for the taste of them at all. I may have to find something to substitute for them. =) Thank you for the recipe!

  3. says

    Hi! I’m a troll (I live “below the bridge” for those non-Michiganders among you) but I love me some pasties! My family lived on them when we camped in the UP. Thanks for an awesome recipe!!!

  4. says

    Traci, the browning sauce is also called Kitchen Bouquet, should be able to find it in the condiment ilse at the store. I use always use it to color my gravies, just a touch for turkey, alittle more for pork and a good glob for beef, just a matter of preference though. Rebecca, I wouldn’t qualify as a Yooper, I’d go for the gravy!

  5. Danielle says

    I come from a long line of Cornish ancestors and grew up in Grass Valley, California, a gold mining town with a rich pastie history. We have a fierce love for our pasties! In my entire life I’ve never seen them eaten with gravy. Ketchup yes, but never gravy. That said, it looks delicious and I hate to admit it, but I might have to try it.

    PS. My husband, who is neither Cornish or from Grass Valley, like his pasties with melted cheese on top. Oh the horror!!!

  6. says

    Hi! ^_^
    Totally love this post. That ketchup or gravy thing was hilarious!! Sometimes we had to try new things just for the sake of trying. Traditions were made to be broken anyway… Gonna make this sometime soon though.

  7. Karen says

    I was raised in the UP, in Iron Mountain, MI and I ate pasties that my Mom made.
    These look very similar to my Mom’s. I’m going to try this recipe.

  8. Kathy says

    I’m a Yooper and grew up on loving pasties. By the way those who live below the bridge are know as Trolls! I eat my pasties with lots of butter. No ketchup or gravy.

  9. tracie says

    thank you so much for this recipe. i found you through pinterest. great story i really got a kick out of it! pasties… in the middle of making them i decided i better double check to see if i was making them correctly. it’s only been oh… probably 25 years since the last time.
    and gravy for my family… under the bridge and all. never even knew ketchup was an option, sheltered childhood! hahaha
    i live in helsinki, finland but both my husband and i are michigan folks. i thought it would be fun to suprise my husband with some homemade pasties for dinner tonight. he wount know what to do with himself!
    and now that i think about it he went to college in houghton. maybe he will want ketchup instead of gravy. hmmmm.
    thanks again for your recipe!
    best wishes, tracie

  10. kelly says

    Spent many summers in the UP as a kid. My parents still go every summer and bring home pasties to share. Ketchup? No thank you. I always put mustard on mine.


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