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Monday, December 21, 2015

Homemade Pork Pies....

Today's recipe is for an English speciality pie ~ known as a pork pie. I only make these once a year, at Christmas. The filling is a mixture of different textures of meat, the fatty parts add succulence, if you used totally lean meat the filling would be hard and dry and not as tasty. We usually eat it on Boxing Day, cold with a salad and pickles, chutneys etc. It's a very substantial pie and will feed a large crowd, it's always best when served fridge cold.

It's a bit of a faff to make, in fact the faff was sourcing all the ingredients this year. No pigs trotters to be found for miles and miles. I phoned 7 butchers shops this morning and no trotters were to be had anywhere, that was until I rang the Oxford butcher and lucky for me he had some.

I also had problems getting lard, which is essential for hot water crust pastry. Could not get any of this anywhere, so I improvised and used home made pork dripping. The pastry is so easy to make, it goes against everything you will have ever been taught about pastry making, but it works and is delicious.

You will need a 25-27 cm springform tin
I used a 20 cm one today and also made a mini pie in a 10 cm tin.

For the pastry:
100g lard
100g butter
200ml water
550g plain flour (you may need a bit more)
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

For the pie filling:
1 kg shoulder pork cut into 1/2 cm dice (tedious but essential for the proper texture)
250 g streaky bacon, finely chopped
250g fatty pork belly, minced
12 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
2 sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped
1 heaped teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
pinch cayenne pepper
1bay leaf

1 beaten egg for the glaze

For the jelly:
2 pigs trotters (ask butcher to cut them in half lengthways
1 carrot
1/2 onion
stalks from the herbs
teaspoon black peppercorns
water to cover

Put both the fats and water in a small saucepan and heat gently until the fat has melted. Do not boil it. Meanwhile, put the flour and salt in a bowl and add the eggs, start to cut this in with a blunt knife and then slowly add the liquid mixing until you get a nice workable dough. You may not need all the liquid and I usually end up adding a little more flour. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead briefly. Wrap it and rest in the fridge for 2 hours.

While the pastry is resting start on the meat prep:
Cut the shoulder pork into 1/2 cm cubes. Put all the filling ingredients in a large bowl and mix it thoroughly, your hands are the best tool for this job.
Cover the bowl and chill while you line the tin with pastry.

Cut off 2/3's of the pastry and roll out until the right size for the tin, it will be fairly thick, much thicker than when you make shortcrust pastry, but that is how it is supposed to be. Line the tin and let the excess hang over the top. Pack the meat in, keep pressing it down and make sure there are no air pockets. Fill it right to the top, then roll out the pastry for the lid. Use a bit of beaten egg to brush around the top of the pastry to seal the lid on. Trim off excess pastry then crimp the edges together. Make a good size hole in the centre of the lid, for the steam to escape and for pouring in the jelly later.

Bake at 180 degrees for 30 minutes, then 160 degrees for a further 1 hour 15 minutes. Take the pie out of the oven, remove the outer ring and brush all over with beaten egg, return to the oven and bake for a final 30 minutes. Remove and leave to cool.
While the pie is cooking make the stock:
Put all the ingredients in a large saucepan and add just enough water to cover the contents. Pop on the lid and bring to the boil then simmer gently for 2 hours. Strain through a fine sieve lined with kitchen paper and let the liquid cool slightly. Once the pie is cooked and has cooled for about an hour, use a funnel to pour the jelly stock into the pie. Do this slowly, let it settle for a few minutes then add more and so on until the pie can't take any more. Leave to cool to room temperature then put it in the fridge. Once it is chilled wrap the pie in baking paper and then put into a plastic bag. It will keep for 2 weeks uncut but once cut it's best eaten within a week.

Don't worry if the meat juices ooze out and over the top during cooking. This is how they should look.

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