Food And Football – Enjoy A Michigan Pasty While You Hope The Huskies Will Beat The Wolverines

For this week’s football game, we are going to take a look at the Washington-Michigan game at 8pm on ABC on Saturday night. Both schools are struggling for relevancy at this time, and a marquee time slot will focus the spotlight on both programs.

Washington is, of course, coming off an embarrassing home loss to FCS-underdog Montana last week. The Husky offensive attack was anemic, and the defense wasn’t much better. After the loss, head coach Jimmy Lake all but begged fans to return for future games at Montlake, obviously understanding the financial import of happy fans, to say nothing of his own desire to achieve success on the field.

Michigan is coming off cascading layers of fan disappointment. After last winning the Big Ten in 2004, Michigan has plowed through a series of coaches who have tried in vain to restore the program to the glory days under former head coach Bo Schembechler. Michigan went 2-4 during the disastrous 2020 season, and now head coach Jim Harbaugh is coaching not just for his job but, arguably, his reputation in general.

Michigan did handily win against an inferior opponent last week, Western Michigan. Think of Western as analogous to Montana. Therefore, in the simple math of football, Michigan took care of business last week, while Washington didn’t.

What should we expect this week? Expect Washington to play better, but probably not well enough to overcome the “Maize Out” crowd of 110k+ at “The Big House,” aka Michigan Stadium. Michigan will likely have just enough to get past Washington, though a reputation in fifteen years’ worth of tatters can’t be restored in a single game.

Likewise, the Huskies need to win to feel relevant on the national stage, where they have been embarrassed in the past, most notably during their poor showing against Ohio State in the College Football Playoffs in 2016.

If the Huskies lose, not only will it send their fanbase into a tailspin, but it will call into question the almost-two-year-old reign of head coach Jimmy Lake. Washington will be absolutely desperate to win this weekend. Cue the cliché about wounded animals being dangerous animals.

Now let’s talk food. Michigan has plenty of unique food options. (Remember, there will be plenty of future opportunities to focus on PNW food). 

We have selected a lesser-known Michigan food that we think could help both programs to … beef up their aggressiveness, both for now and the future.

Say hello to the pasty.

The what?

The first thing to get a handle on is the pronunciation of this strange and delicious food item. Don’t say pasty so that it rhymes with waste-y. Say it like: “We’re not talking about the future here, we’re talking about the past-y.”

The short history of the pasty is that Cornish miners brought it from England to the U.P. in the 19th century as a stick-to-the-ribs sustenance provider for those working not in the proverbial coal mines but the actual ones. It’s a meat-and-potato savory hand pie in a delectable, handmade crust.

But wait a minute. We used the abbreviation U.P. What gives? The U.P. stands for the Upper Peninsula, that … upper peninsula of Michigan that weather forecasters are perennially mislabeling as belonging to Wisconsin, or, worse, Canada.

The U.P. is where Yoopers live. Unlike Trolls, who live under the bridge, aka the “Lower Peninsula,” which connects to the U.P. via the Big Mac, aka the Mackinaw Bridge.

Just understand that a typical conversation among Yoopers might go something like this. And you’re going to want to dial up the North Woods Accent to an eleven for this one.

“Hey, how are you doin’?”

“Good, thank you! I was just about to pick up some pasties before I go and shovel the snow!”

(See the excellent movie Fargo for a deeper exploration of this regional accent and way of life).

Let’s get back to the pasty. Here’s a video showing how to make them, if you prefer your cooking directions in a visual format. But here is the basic process in written form:

  • Make a pastry dough out of flour, lard, oil or butter, and water
  • Wrap the dough in plastic film and refrigerate while you make the filling
  • Make a filling out of beef, potato and onions. Feel free to season and adjust ingredients as desired. After cooking the filling, chill in refrigerator 
  • Roll out dough into thin, small circles
  • Place a scoop of filling into the center of each dough circle, and use water or egg wash to seal each dough circle into a half moon shape
  • Place your pasties on a baking sheet, brush with egg, and bake for 45 minutes, until dough is golden brown

Yes, making pasties at home is a bit of work, but they freeze very well. And, every bit of effort you put into their preparation will pay off when you are stuffing your face with them.

If anyone has a connection to either Jimmy Lake or Jim Harbaugh, perhaps apprise them of the pasty. Who knows, both programs could restore themselves to their former glory faster than most people could find the U.P. on a map.

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About Paul Redman 122 Articles
Paul Redman is a writer and chef in Seattle who grew up in the Midwest. His work has appeared in print and online, including San Francisco magazine, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and Contrary. He eats too many chicken wings and cracks way too many dad jokes and food puns. Follow him on Twitter @predman.