The Epicurious Wanderers!

Traditional British Pork Pies

I love a good pork pie, the problem is so many of the ones you buy are pretty average. They can be soggy, tasteless and lack a decent filling. My solution this weekend was to bake my own, I normally shy away from pastry work as I’ve not had a great track record. After much searching I found the recipe below and decided to give it a crack.

Hot Dogs Water Crust Pastry
350 g plain flour – sieved
140 ml water
110 g lard
1 tsp salt
1 egg – beaten

Pork Pie Filling
500 g pork shoulder – diced
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Pork Pie Jelly
1 pig trotter
1 litre water
1 onion – halved
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper

Making the Hot Water Crust Pastry

Preheat the oven to 180C

Sieve the flour into a large, ovenproof mixing bowl and pop in the oven to warm.

You’re not trying to cook the flour, just warm it and the bowl through, so reduce the heat as necessary if you don’t get to work on the pastry straight away.

Place the water and lard into a saucepan.

Gently bring to a boil and when the lard has melted, pour into the flour and salt mixture.

Stir with a wooden spoon until well combined.

Working quickly, knead the dough when it is cool enough to handle.

It will feel just lovely!

Place on a floured board and cut off 1/3 of the dough.

Replace this into the mixing bowl with a tea towel over the top to keep the heat in. This off-cut will be the ‘lid’ to your pies.

With the remaining 2/3 you are going to make the ‘body’ of your pie.

If you are making one large pie, keep it as is. However if you are making smaller pies like I have in the pictures, divide the pastry into as many pies as you are making.

Work on one portion of dough at a time, keeping the rest in the warm bowl.

Making the Pork Pie Jelly

I use pigs trotters for my savoury pork pie jelly, but you can also use gelatin sheets if you prefer.

Place the cleaned trotter into the slow cooker along with the water, onion, salt and white pepper.

Cook on high for 4 hours, or on low overnight.

I like to split the trotter halfway through the cooking time to allow more of the gelatin to be released into the cooking water. I got my butcher to split the trotters length ways for me.

Once cooked, drain well, keeping all of that wonderful stock. It’s so rich.

The debris can be disposed of and any extra stock can be frozen in ice cube trays and used in soups, stews and casseroles to enrich and boost nutrition.

Making the Pie

Dust a Pork Pie Dolly or an upturned glass with flour, then mould the warm pastry into an even layer with your hands. This can be tricky, especially when you try to wrap in paper and tie them, next time I’m going to use a muffin tin. I’ll place a baking paper strip into the bottom, form the pastry in the moulds, I can then lift out part way through baking.

There should be a small overhang to seal the lid on, and you don’t want any gaps or splits.

Repeat with the remaining dough.

Carefully remove the pastry from the glass, and tie a strip of folded baking paper around the ‘belly’ of the pie to help hold it up.

Mix together the pork, sage, salt & pepper. Carefully fill each pie with 1/3 of the mixture, pressing down as necessary and leaving the meat in a dome shape in the middle. Again next time I think I will form meatballs and place them in the pastry shells, will make it easier to add the jelly later on.

Divide the ‘lid’ pastry into as many pies as you are making, and roll each piece out into a circle.

Brush the overhang area with the beaten egg, and place the lids on.

Now seal the edges of the lids and body pastry together. You can simply press the pastry together firmly, or crimp it as in the pictures.

Using the tip of a sharp knife, pierce a hole in the pastry and twist the knife to make the hole round & a little larger.

This is where you will pour in your stock once baked, so the hole needs to be big enough to fit your funnel tip.

Baking the Pies

Brush the pies generously all over with egg wash. The more egg used, the shinier the pies will be.

Bake the pies in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

Then reduce the oven to 160, and continue cooking for a further 50 minutes.

Halfway through the cooking time, take out of the oven, remove the baking paper sleeves if using, and brush again all over with egg wash.

Return to the oven to finish cooking.

It is essential that pork reaches a minimum of 65C (150F) to be safe to consume. Feel free to test the centre temperature with a digital thermometer if you have one.

Set the cooked pies to cool on the kitchen counter.

When at room temperature, move to the fridge to let cool fully.

Filling the Pies with Jellied Stock

Take your cold pies and gently insert the tip of the funnel into the hole in the lid.

Pour your hot stock into the hole slowly. Mine were too full, making it hard to get the jelly in, I ended up making a another hole near the edge to help.

You don’t want it to overflow so allow it time to soak down into all the gaps and crevices.

When the pies are full of stock, return them to the fridge to fully cool again.

Do not cut into them until the stock has had plenty of time to solidify, preferably overnight.

When ready to eat, cut the pie into wedges to see your work of art, and enjoy!