Monday, November 28

Pork Pie

These are incredibly easy to make, very forgiving and way beyond any shop bought pie in terms of flavour. Pork pies fall into two camps on both the meat and pastry front. Some 'cured' pork pies have pink fillings after cooking due to the addition of saltpetre or other anti-oxidant agents. Mine are more natural and will go greyish - it is what pork does after mincing and cooking, why add chemicals? With regards pastry, many commercial offerings will have soft flabby spongy casings. Not these - the pastry will be firm and crisp and will stay that way for several days uncovered in the fridge. So its a case of pink and flabby vs natural and firm folks......I'll leave you to make your choice. 

Pork pies should have jelly. No matter how full you fill the cases, the meat will shrink during cooking and the jelly is added to fill the resulting void. I'm not a massive fan of meat stock jelly so I went for the option of melting down some crabapple jelly and using this instead. I am sure it would work really well but in a rush to photograph and eat, I didn't let my pies cool and the jelly ran out when I cut them - dumb ass!  It did however get me thinking that any sort of fruit or wine jelly would work well - redcurrant, medlar, dessert wine with added gelatine.... I'll describe what I did here but feel free to experiment. For four individual pies:

Pork belly or shoulder - 400g after trimming rind and gristle 
Spring Onions - 4
Sage - 1 small bunch
Nutmeg - 1/4 of a nutmeg, grated
Salt & black pepper
Lard - 150g
Plain Flour - 300g
Water - 150ml
Crab Apple Jelly - 50g

Set your oven to 200c. Put the pork, spring onions, sage, nutmeg, 1tsp salt and 1tsp pepper into the bowl of a food processor and blitz to a rough mince. Bring the water and lard to the boil, add a good pinch of salt, then add to the flour. Using a spatula bring together to an oily pastry and when cool enough to handle, form into a ball with your hands.

Divide the dough into 6 balls, then push 1 ball into the bottom of a small, individual 125ml dariol mould or cupcake tin, or what ever you have that will make a decent sized pork pie). Squeeze the pastry up the sides of the mould to just above the rim making sure there are no holes and the pastry is roughly an even thickness all over. Repeat three more times resulting in 4 pastry cases. Divide the meat mix into 4 balls and stuff each into the pastry cases pushing down well but taking care not to split the pastry. Divide the remaining two pastry balls in half and use to make lids - squeeze out a rough circle and place on top of the pies. Crimp the lids with your fingers, cut a large steam hole in the top of each lid and bake for 50 mins to 1 hour. To check they are cooked, inset a fine knife through the steam hole into the centre of the pie. Leave for 5 seconds then touch the knife point to your lips. If it is very hot then the pies are cooked, if only warm cook for another 15 mins.

Warm the crabapple jelly in a pan to melt then carefully spoon into the holes in the tops of the pies until they can be filled no more. You may need to re-open the holes after baking as they sometime close up a little. When the pies have cooled, refrigerate to set the jelly then de-mould. If the pies refuse to come out of the tins, this is probably due to the fat setting. Put the whole tray back in the oven for no more that a minute and the fat should melt and the pies release. In the pub we use a blow torch to release all kinds of things like this from chocolate mousse to pannacotta and of course pork pies - top tip mate.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,

I was just talking to B about making a pork pie the other day and would love to give it a go! Couple of questions: a) can I get minced pork from the butcher and use that instead? b) what would recommend for general pie moulds? Would like something versatile I can use for other pies, too. Not sure where/what to get - any suggestions? Look forward to trying this.