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First try - cold pork pie. A pictorial


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I finally decided to have a go at making raised (hot water crust) pork pies. These are something of a British staple, and always eaten cold. I took my inspiration from the first resource I ever found on the internet, some years ago, for these, at Bernard Hall's site as well as a recipe at metfieldbakery.com (it seems the link is no longer active), and some reference to Jane Grigson's 'Good Things'.

Seems I'm kinda slow to action and I've kept up the theme by not making the time to do a write-up till now, since making the pies in June :smile:


I started with the pig-trotter stock for the jelly that eventually fills the space between filling and crust:


- I used 4 trotters, 3 bay leaves, 1 carrot, 20-odd peppercorns, and a sprig of thyme. Trotters in a single layer - covered with water, plus about an inch depth. Bring to boil & simmer for 4.5 hours, turning every hour or so.


Later it looked like this:


Finally, I did my best to clarify the stock using egg whites, with mixed results - more of which anon.

Filling - mostly following Bernard Hall, but with a couple of adjustments, some out of necessity, some by choice. I included some turmeric as an emulsifier for the fat, and to see what sort of contribution it'd make to colour. Commercial pork pies use nitrate/nitrite which keeps the meat pink as well as aiding preservation.

(all pork rindless)

0.5kg pork loin

0.5kg pork shoulder

0.5kg pork belly

1/4 nutmeg

3 cloves

4 berries allspice

1.5tsp black peppercorns

1.5tsp white peppercorns

1 small dried red chilli

2.25 tsp salt (sekka-en)

2tsp paprika

2tsp turmeric

1tsp dried sage

1.5tsp fresh thyme leaves, unpacked volume

1tbsp lemon juice & 1tbsp white wine vinegar

The whole spices for grinding:


In the background is the bag of 'sekka-en' salt, "high quality coarse sea salt" the label on the front says; on the back is 'product of China'. I hope I pronounce it right as 'sekka-en' in Japanese - it means "snow flower salt". Aww.

Salt & herbs / spices that don't need ground:


I got the grinder & tray ready to scald with boiling water:


...chilled and set it up ...


...and got grinding. I cut the lean eye out of the pork loin, cubed it and held it aside. The rest of the meat went through the 10mm grinder plate, then half of the belly mince made a second pass through the 6mm plate. I think I started with the remainder of the loin:


...then the shoulder ...


...then the belly


(in a standard Japanese apartment it's compulsory to have piles of documents on the kitchen / dining / office table).


That just left the mixing:



...and reserving for a couple of hours (2 - 24 should be OK). This mixture seemed highly seasoned in the bowl, and when fried-and-tried, but turned out just right in the finished cold pie.

Next: pastry, assembly, baking.

Edited by Blether (log)

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Good work, will be very interested to see how you get along with the pastry forming. Regarding the use of nitrates, the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie (which now has Protected Geographical Indication (PGI)status)doesn't have any nitrates added, just pork, so the meat cooks to a grey colour, generic pork pies mostly contain nitrates and have a bright pink interior. I like the idea of all the spices though and will be interested to read how you describe the taste.

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Thanks, Adam. You're right about Melton Mowbray pork pies, of course. Isn't it funny how now, under Europe's stewardship, they're to have a protected origin that they never enjoyed under the UK's ? Funny how the world turns, but yes, 'generic' is more to the point than my choice of word, 'commercial'. We'll come to the taste description presently :wink:

Pastry / Hot water crust

The bad news is, I forgot to take any pictures of the pastry making till I'd made a batch of pastry and it was already resting in the fridge.


I struggled with whether to follow the no-egg recipes or the recipe with eggs. I cut back on the amount of fat & eggs in Bernard Hall's recipe, but left in some egg, if for no other reason the price of butter round here. The formula I settled on was:

(can prepare in advance and keep refrigerated)

900g flour

100g lard

100g butter

1.5tsp salt (reduce slightly if using wet mustard ?)

200ml water

2 eggs

1tbsp of mustard powder or wet mustard (I used wet)

1(.5 ?) egg beaten for sealing the case and glazing

In a bowl, (mix in the mustard if powder, and) create a well in the flour, break in the eggs (and add mustard if wet), and stir them into and then through the flour using a knife or fork.

Put the lard, butter and salt into a saucepan with 3/4 of the water and gently heat until the fats are melted. Do not allow to boil (it leaps out of the pan !)

Make a hollow in the flour mix, add the melted fats, mix in and start adding the rest of the water little by little as needed, stopping when the dough comes together in a ball (I used 200ml at first and it was ample, maybe too much). When it is thoroughly mixed it should not be greasy but a firm dough. If it appears greasy add a little more flour and knead some more until it feels non greasy.

My notes say to wrap the dough and rest in the fridge for at least 2 - 3 hours, and that it'll take 1/4 - 1/3 of the pastry to make lids.

Now, 900g of flour is all very well, but there's no such thing as all-purpose flour in Japan. There's strong and there's weak. What I did in the first place, was decide that, since I was going to get to choose, I'd use all cake flour (don't laugh), and give it a work-out in the breadmaker to develop as much gluten as it had. Tender, I reckoned. I mixed up the batch and in the end added another 200g of flour at the "if it's greasy" stage. The machine kneaded it to a lovely glossiness.

It was as i stood looking into that empty mixing bowl, that a memory came back to me from last summer, when I was working with shortcrust and had gone through a similar thought process. I ended up with Forfar bridies / meat turnovers featuring a crust that was like eating warm fat bulked out with Polyfilla (household filler). So, the good news is that in a panic I set the all-cake-flour hot water crust aside and made up a new batch, 1/3 cake flour and 2/3 strong flour, more like a standard all-purpose flour ratio. Seen here with the egg and mustard mixed in, ready to add the hot liquid:


I didn't have much bandwidth (or hands !) available for taking pictures anyway. I kneaded this batch briefly by hand only. Which gave:


After a couple of hours rest for the pastry, I was ready to roll:


- placed on the pastry here you can see a round pastry cutter that's 10cm / 4" across and 4.6cm / mumble" high, and a plate that's nicely about the same width as the cutter + (2 x the cutter's height), with about 2cm extra. A rolling pin lurks in the foreground.

Edited by Blether (log)

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I must admit that I am in two minds over Protected Geographical Indication status and food. In theory it recognises a particular food item as having a association with a specific location and allows people that have tradionally been associated with a product to gain the greatest benefit from the commercialisation of that product. However, as the product has to be defined in a specific way then in some ways that is the end of the story for it. The Cornish Pasty Association has applied for PGI status, but they have defined A genuine Cornish pasty as having a "distinctive 'D' shape and is crimped on one side, never on top. The texture of the filling for the pasty is chunky, made up of uncooked minced or roughly cut chunks of beef (not less than 12.5%), swede or turnip, potato and onion and a light peppery seasoning.". Ten minutes on a Google search will inform anybody that is interested that in Cornwall pasties contained all manner of fillings, with beef being relatively rare. So in the end it limits tradion of the food item in question for commercial objectives.

Pork pies are more straightforward as the recipe hasn't changed that much since it was developed, although the name has.


Cut the pork up in square pieces, fat and lean, about the size of a cob-nut, season with pepper and salt, and a small quantity of sage and thyme chopped fine, and set it aside on a dish in a cool place. Next, make some hot-water-paste, using for this purpose (if desired) fresh- made hog's-lard instead of butter, in the proportion of eight ounces to the pound of flour. These pies must be raised by hand, in the following manner:—First mould the paste into a round ball upon the slab, then roll it out to the thickness of half an inch, and with the back of the right hand indent the centre in a circle reaching to within three inches of the edge of the paste; next, gather up the edges all round, pressing it closely with the fingers and thumbs, so as to give to it the form of a purse; then continue to work it upwards, until the sides are raised sufficiently high; the pie should now be placed on a baking-sheet, with a round of buttered paper under it, and after it has been filled with the pork—previously prepared for the purpose, covered in with some of the paste in the usual manner. Trim the edges and pinch it round with the pincers, decorate it, egg it over and bake it until done: calculating the time it should remain in the oven, according to the quantity of meat it contains.

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Yes, and I can remember Melton Mowbray pressure being exerted through television back in the 70's or early 80's. I do like that recipe - Leicestershire, Melton Mowbray - getting more and more parochial despite the advent of modern transport and communications ?!

I had to look up cob-nut - a hazelnut or kind of hazelnut, it says here.

Assembly & baking

"Roll out pastry, cut a circle for the case (~21cm for 10cm pie ring), and a lid using the ring. Make a case in the pie ring, fill, brush edge with egg, cover with lid, press seal and crimp with fork. Wrap with single-layer ring of baking paper, fixed with a paper clip on a stub of the overlap, folded up."

As above, and:


I picked up the pastry-cutter idea a while ago, from a video on Youtube about making Scotch Pies. I couldn't find it again - I think it's been deleted. It's more trouble than I'd imagined, though - wrestling the extra folds of pastry into a uniform pie-shell-side takes some effort. I did get a good shape in the end. And where a pie *tin* would give trouble getting the case out, using a ring like this, you just upend it and the pie slides gratifyingly out of into your waiting hand.



Allow to stand for an hour (in fridge if possible) for seal to cure. Preheat oven to 200C. Line tray with baking paper and bake for 30 minutes, turning tray round once. Turn again and bake at 170C for 1.5 hours (no turning round needed).

Remove paper rings, brush with beaten egg and bake for 10 mins further at 190C, turning round once.

(*** For non-paper-wrapped, egg wash to start, and first 30 mins at 220C then bake out at 170C, works well)


In the oven:


- by this time of night, in June with a hot oven, you'd have your shirt off, too. Specially notable in this shot is the 1980's-vintage, bright green vacuum cleaner, bottom right, followed closely by the 2000-vintage NTT docomo mobile phone.

I suspect I baked these too long. I'm resolved to use my cooking thermometer next time to call a halt by temperature. That said, the pies weren't noticeably impaired in the eating - perhaps they retained just a little less fat than ideal.

Nor did these five pies account for the whole of the mixture - I still had plenty of meat left, but as Bob Seger said, "I know it's late, I know you're weary". That batch of all-cake-flour pastry hove once again into the view of mind's eye - I *did* give it a machine-kneading, after all, and what was a pie case originally, anyway, if not a handy disposable meat container ?

Haunted by visions of middle-school pottery, I fired up my trusty fist and shaped the ball of weak-flour-paste around it freehand, finally setting it on the workboard and working the sides up to get:


(Yodobashi camera gold (gasp !) point card - credit card size - shown for scale).


I formed the lid from some of the 'all-purpose' flour pastry batch, and made dirty great flutes with my thumb:


It's you & me, pie-face. "We've got Tonight".


Next: results

Edited by Blether (log)

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The baking paper stayed on some - it eased its way up and off others as they baked. The pie in the centre features a lid made of too-often re-rolled pastry.

You can also see 'wings' developing from the sides in many places. That's because of forming the shells from a larger disc of pastry, that had to be folded into the pastry-cutter I used as a pie form. I didn't use milk or egg inside the folds to help them unify. In the midst of my hot-water crust enthusiasm, I also made up some scotch mutton pies (picture lower down), using some of the egg wash to seal the folds, and those shells baked completely smooth.

No such problems with the large pie:



In the whole pie-making process, I had most trouble with the trotter jelly / aspic. It was my first attempt. For the life of me, I could not get it clarified very well, despite two attempts at clarifying with egg whites, the second one after really reading the procedure thoroughly. In the end I got some clarity, seasoned it off with some fish sauce and was satisfied (I chuckled wistfully at Elizabeth David's picture of two kitchen chairs, one upside down on top of the other with a teatowel fastened between the legs). My jelly came out very thick - my best guess is that I used far too little water to cook it. Next time I'll take that improvement as a starting point: I'd appreciate any advice anyone has on trotter jelly and clarifying. I want to make jelly like this:


(Thanks to

Wood-Fired! for this photo)

But I diluted the jelly I had a little and filled the pies with it - no pictures, but in inconsistent light, the finished article:



I wouldn't bother again with the cubes of loin - they ended up as rather dry, solid interruptions in an otherwise lush filling. My plan for next time is 50/50 belly and shoulder meat, with perhaps some of the shoulder in cubes nearer to 1/2" than 1". The spice mix was excellent - I judged it both authentic and delicious :cool:

Shared with friends who were kind enough to lay on some pickles:



The pastry came out rather thicker than I'd intended, but was flavourful and had great texture. It seems to bake out to about 2/3 thicker than when formed; the quantity of pastry I used vs. the quantity of filling of course bears that out. I need to pay more attention to the admonition to use equal volume of pastry & filling, and to make the crusts that much thinner next time. Of course the large pie started out with a crust that was geared more towards using up an amount of pastry, and started out thicker still. This pie was still good eating, with as much of the shell eaten as desired and the rest given the deep six:


As it turned out, the all-cake-flour pastry was very good - light & tender. It did go soft more quickly (~one day or one and a half days) than the 'all-purpose' version, which had better keeping qualities.

Lastly, a picture of those Scotch Pies:


- made with very cheap but good halal mutton from an online South Asian supplier (Baticrom, for anyone in Japan), these worked out very well. The meat was "frozen leg slices" about an inch thick: the meat and fat balance made an authentic mince, and the pieces of bone just the right amount of well-flavoured stock to finish off the filling. I want a pie press !

Pork pies elsewhere on eGullet:

Making pie crust with boiling water

fatmat's Great British Pork Pie

Pork Pie - It is not wrong

Edited by Blether (log)

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There is "chuu-riki" or "medium" flour, which tends to be expensive, but also flavorful (usually designed for udon).

Thanks for the mutton supply tip - local Hanamasa went bust, supermarket no longer stocks cheap, frozen sliced lamb (well, we'll call it lamb).

What's your favorite J flour for pastry making? I rarely make hot-water pastry because I have the same problem - tends to end up thicker than I intended!

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There is "chuu-riki" or "medium" flour...

Ooh, I hadn't ever noticed that, though I think I've seen 'udon flour'. Hi, Helen.

I've gone on enough about Hanamasa. I'd be lost without my local one - though funnily enough they got into fresh lamb in a big way - was it last year ? - only to get out of it again in under 6 months. Nisshin World Deli at Azabu Juban has expanded its fresh & frozen lamb offerings - they are my current pick for this exotic meat (and it's really really lamb, though they no longer carry exactly the frozen legs I used to like. They do still have whole legs, but another brand, and the bone below the 'knee' is gone; they've added another line in 'Easy Carve' legs, which to me are a waste of freezer space).

I keep a 1kg bag on hand of each of Hanamasa's strong flour (14% protein, the label says) and higher-quality weak flour / 薄力一等粉 (8% protein), if for no other reason than I don't want to wrestle with a 5kg flour sack every time I want an ounce or two.

I seem often to be writing on eG about buying flour in bulk from Hokkaido's Ebetsu Flour Mills via Shikisai ・ 四季采 - I like Minorinooka for pizza, Haruyutaka and Zenryuko separately or together for bread. Recently I'm even leaning towards Haruyutaka for pizza. I'm still experimenting with what works best for pastry, but in general I'm mixing some cake flour into one of the strong ones: 1/3 to 2/3 for shortcrust, and I'm going for 50/50 for the next hot water crust. The old bag, sorry I mean my dear old mum used to be famous for her choux, but I just ain't that fancy.

When I was first using the Haruyutaka, I remember having read that it was 11% gluten - strong but not that strong - and lamenting the non-availability of flour specifically labelled as northern climate hard wheat, or otherwise with a good high gluten percentage. Some time later I read through Sikisai's site in detail again and saw Haruyutaka listed as 14% gluten. I was confused. Minorinooka has a bit lower gluten, I don't remember what now.

Edited by Blether (log)

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I want to compliment you on your pie making, but I can't until I try one. Please send me one of each pie, and I will test them for you and give you an unbiased opinion on the fabulousness of your pies.

Really, cool takkyubin is only Y650! I love meat pies, and I never did make any after jackal's pork pie pictorial.

Have you ever tried Ameyoko-cho Center Building for lamb? The wet-market type place in the basement was where we used to go for lamb/mutton. There's still a stall that sells it, or at least there was last May.

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Please send me one of each pie, and I will test them for you...

Ha ha ! Will the cool-bin guys come quickly enough to catch some ? Maybe you should just come & help with the next batch :wink:

Ueno's not so far away, I could try Ameyokocho. Thanks for the tip. Have I missed another eG pork pie topic from my list ?

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All right, Rona, I'll put you at the top of the list. In the meantime, can you make do with having a Bob Seger reference in the write-up ?

Helenjp... and is your source a secret ? :shock:

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