Pork pie r squared

The pork pie saga started with a thread on Allotments 4 All about offal. One of the contributors posted a link to a recipe for Finnish blood pancakes. I’d never heard of such things, but my Swedish brother-in-law confirmed that Sweden has them too. And we got to talking about brawn and other delights.

Now this chimed with another plan, to “adopt” a pig. I’d come across a company called Samphire, website here which does a scheme called My Little Porkie. They rear the pig, and arrange for it to be slaughtered and butchered. You get to feel good about contributing to free range farming, and to eat scrumptious rare breed pork.

But of course a whole pig isn’t just chops and legs and shoulders and prime cuts. There’s belly, and trotters, and the head, and tail, and liver, and kidneys, and more. And thinking about what we might make from the extremities inspired me to think in terms of a pork pie. And the more I thought about it, the more I fancied pork pie and salad for supper.

I enjoy cooking, but my skill with pastry is legendary for its absence. So when required Jean gets roped in to make the pastry, while I make the filling. Or I resort to Jus-Rol (cries of “Shame!”).

Now we do have a loaf tin with hinged drop-down sides, ideal for pork pies, but I’d recently bought a silicone springform cake tin, which I was eager to try.

The problem was that I hadn’t really considered the sheer size of the thing. It’s 10″ in diameter. That is one BIG pork pie. It worked really well, as you can see.

Mmmmmmm. Home made pork pie, Colman’s English mustard, and a nice green salad. And a glass of Cotes du Rhone, or, perhaps even better, a nice hoppy English beer.

Well, it looks like pie for supper for the next few days.

For the recipe, I looked up a few books and websites. The recipe we used was based mainly on the Melton Mowbray pie described by Dorothy Hartley in her wonderful history called “Food in England”. It’s been reprinted in paperback, and is well worth reading. She explains that the unique characteristic of a Melton Mowbray pie is the use of anchovy essence. Her recipe is based on a stone of flour, which was a bit much even for my giant cake tin.

So finally, our recipe. If you’re using an 8 inch tin, πr2 says that you’ll need two-thirds of the quantities. If a 7 inch tin, then half.

Stock
Put a couple of trotters into the slow cooker, and add a pint or so (600ml) of chicken stock, or water with onion and carrot.  Add a few sage leaves and marjoram (we used dried), a couple of bay leaves and a teaspoonful of peppercorns.  Bring up to the boil on High, then simmer on Low for 2-3 hours.  Allow to cool.

Filling
I used a food processor for speed, but you have to be careful. The idea is that the meat should be chopped, not minced. Don’t do too much at once, and process only for a second or two at a time.

3lb (1500g) of pork shoulder, weighed after removal of bones, skin, and gristle. If you bone it yourself, you can add the bones to the stock. Chopped to around quarter inch (5mm).

2lb (900g) belly pork, trimmed and diced as above.

6oz (175g) unsmoked bacon, rind removed, and minced finely with the seasonings: a few sage leaves, some marjoram, a teaspoon of salt, a couple of teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper (it’s more genuine to use white pepper, but we prefer the taste of black, and don’t mind the black specks). I also added a couple of dashes of Cholula (or you could use any other tasty hot sauce). Finally don’t forget a decent tablespoonful of anchovy essence. You can also use a third of a small tin of anchovies, but add them to the food processor first, before the bacon, so that they get whizzed up finely.

Mix all the meats together with 3 tablespoons of the stock.

Hot Water Pastry
Put a pound and a half (700g) of strong flour into the mixer. Add about half an ounce (15g) freshly ground sea salt and an egg and mix with a dough hook until the egg is incorporated in the flour. Bring to the boil 8oz (250g) lard and 16oz water (500g). Start the mixer and steadily pour in the boiling liquid. Beat at low speed for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth. Wrap it in cling film and allow to rest for 15 minutes, but keep it warm.

Assembly
Roll out two-thirds of the pastry, and cut a circle the size of the base of your tin. Use baking parchment if it’s a metal base. Then roll out the offcut into a rectangular strip and line the sides of the tin, making sure that there’s no gap at the bottom (otherwise it’ll leak).

Fill the pastry case with the meat mixture, leaving no gaps, but not packing it down too hard.

Roll the remaining third of the pastry into a circle to form the lid. Press the top into the sides to seal the pie.

Bake for 30 minutes at 220C (200C fan oven) then turn the heat down to 180C (160C fan oven) for another hour. Brush the top with beaten egg to glaze and return to the oven for up to half an hour more until done. If you have a meat thermometer, the filling should be at 165F (74C).

Allow to cool slowly (in the warm oven) for another hour, then carefully add the warm strained stock through one or more holes made with an apple corer in the lid. This will form the jelly.

Leave in the fridge for 24 hours for the jelly to set and the flavours to combine. If you have the self-control, that is!

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