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fatmat

The Great British Pork Pie

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Hi Folks... lucky me, tomorrow I have a day off, all to myself. To celebrate, I'm going to have a go at making a proper pork pie, with hot water pastry and my own proper jelly (from bones and stuff).

I've never attempted this before. Seems like quite a mission, but I've got the time and nobody to hassle me, so why not?

I'm going to chart the day with pics, warts, disasters, triumphs and all.

If you've ever attempted this mission before (or known anybody that has...), please share your wisdom before I get started, so hopefully I'll avoid stupid screw ups, and be able to show you a fantastic pic of me eating glory pie - as opposed to humble pie.

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My Mother makes an excellent pork pasty (pork pie) she learned from my Scots/English Grandmother, (her MIL).

Half the trick is her crust, which she makes, most appropriately in this case, with lard.

SB (never dared attempt it myself) :raz:

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If you've ever attempted this mission before (or known anybody that has...), please share your wisdom before I get started, so hopefully I'll avoid stupid screw ups, and be able to show you a fantastic pic of me eating glory pie - as opposed to humble pie.

Jack did it here: Pork Pie

I love pork pie and it is one of the first things I ask my sister to buy when I get home on rare visits!


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Here goes...

Introduction

The pork pie comprises a savoury pork filling, surrounded by savoury jelly and finally a hot water crust.

There are several stages to building one…

1) Jellied stock

2) Filling

3) Pastry

4) Assembly

5) Cooking

6) Addition of stock

7) Cooling

8) Eating

The following instructions will give the what’s and where necessary the why’s for each of the stages – Enough for 2 pies

1) Jellied Stock

1 split pig’s trotter

2lb pork bones

rind from 2lb belly pork

1 leek

1 onion

1 large carrot

5 crushed juniper berries

1 blade mace

12 peppercorns

2 fresh bay leaves

Salt to taste

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Process

Roughly chop the veggies. Add all the ingredients to a large stock pan – except the salt. Cover with water, bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for 3 hours.

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After 3 hours, remove from the heat, strain through a fine sieve, return to the heat and reduce to one pint.

When the stock has reduced to the final concentration, taste and add salt to taste.

Set the stock aside to cool.

(my screw up – I took a shower when the stock was reducing. When I looked again, the stock had reduced too much and had formed a brown bubbly syrup on the bottom of the pan. I thought I had ruined it, but I added a pint of water to revive it, and discovered that it tasted fantastic)

2) Filling

2 lb pork belly with rind (use rind and any bones for the stock)

6oz smoked bacon (you can use unsmoked, but I think that smoked gives a better flavour)

2 tsp anchovy essence

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground mace

1 tsp nutmeg

½ tsp ground white pepper

5 juniper berries – finely chopped

1tbs chopped fresh sage

Salt to taste (don’t forget that the bacon already has salt, so you’ll need very little.)

Aim

The aim here is to create a filling comprised of meat chunks and meat paste – the paste helps to fill the gaps to ensure a solidly filled pie.

Process

Use a food processor to process half of the pork and half of the bacon until the mixture becomes a coarse paste.

Chop the remaining meat into ½ “ cubes. Mix the chopped and processed meat with all of the remaining ingredients. – You’ll need to get your hands in here to give the mixture a good squidge.

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Fry up a small piece of the mixture to test for seasoning. Don’t forget that your spices may have a different pungency to mine, so don’t be afraid to adjust to your taste. However, the mixture should not taste specifically of any one spice – take special care not to use too much pepper. Too much pepper is a common pork pie mistake.

Once the filling is ready, set aside in the fridge for later.

Point of interest – As well as adding flavour, the anchovy essence helps to keep the pork a lovely pink colour – stopping it from turning grey when it cooks.

3) Pastry

2 lb Flour

2/3 pt milk and water

8 oz lard

Notes

Hot water pastry is easy to make, can be handled brutally and is very forgiving. It forms a soft pliable dough that feels very silky. It’s special property is that it is mouldable, and will form a case that will hold it’s shape before cooking, without a mould. Take care not to let the mixture get too cold, as it will crack when you shape it.

This mixture gives you too much, but allows for screw ups, different shape moulds and varying filling volumes.

Process

Bring the lard and liquid to the boil, remove from the heat.

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Add the flour and stir. The mixture will be lumpy and floury.

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Get your hands in bring the dough together, kneading until smooth.

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4) Assembly

Meat mixture

Paste

Grease proof paper

String

Dredging flour

Lard

4lb kilner jar or similar for shaping case – 4 ½” in diameter

Notes

The aim is to mould a lump of pastry around a jar to form a case, leave it cool a little so it hold’s it’s shape, stuff, top and bake. The reality was slightly different because the case took ages to cool enough to hold it’s shape. Also, I ended up rolling the pastry first before moulding to help ensure an even thickness, which is difficult if you mould the pastry blob by hand.

Process

You have enough mixture for two pies – For ease, assemble one at a time.

Halve the mixture, and set half aside in a warm place for later.

Cut ¼ off the remaining paste and keep warm. This will be used later to form the lid.

Take the jar, grease with lard and cover in flour. Form the paste into a round ball, roll out into a circle, 3/8” thick. Dredge this circle very well – otherwise you will not get the paste off the mould later.

gallery_21383_2334_15137.jpg

Carefully lift the pastry and drape over the base of the jar. Use your hands to form the circle into a case around the jar – work quickly and firmly, but don’t be afraid – the paste is tolerant and will take remoulding if you screw up. You will end up with a smooth surface.

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Watch point – Take care when working on the corner between the base and the sides – there is a risk of making this area too thin.

Now trim the edge, to leave a side of about 3 ½ - 4”. Use a pastry cutter, pizza cutter or knife to do this.

In theory, the paste should be left to cool a little, to firm up – It should then hold it’s shape independently. I found that this seemed to take forever and I got bored waiting. Whenever I removed the case, it just collapsed and annoyed me

Instead, I gently tied a double thickness of greaseproof paper around the case to help it hold it’s shape. It is important to be very gentle, otherwise the case won’t slide off the jar. This is also where you discover if you floured the paste well enough after rolling!!

Now invert the jar, and hopefully the case will slide off – probably with a little encouragement.

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If you have excess baking parchment, trim it down to 1/2" below the top of the pie.

Fill the case with the filling, to within ½“ of the top edge. The case is quite robust, so you can pack the filling in well, leaving no spaces.

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Roll out the remaining ¼ that you cut off earlier on, into a 3/8” thick round the same diameter as the pie. Cut out a hole in this using a small metal cutter.

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Lay the top onto the pie, and pinch the edges together firmly, into a pretty pattern!! Now return the cutter to the hole in the top – this will help keep the hole shape during cooking

Stand back and admire your work. Difficult bit over, and not that difficult after all.

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5) Cooking

Preheat your oven to 200 C (180 in a fan oven). Place the pie on a baking tray and bake for ½ hour

Reduce the heat to 180 C (160 in fan oven) and cook for a further 1 ½ hours.

6) Adding Jelly

Using a funnel, pour the liquid jelly into the hole in the top, until the pie is full – the jelly will fill all the spaces left by the shrinking filling. You will probably need to make several additions of jelly, as the liquid settles.

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7) Cooling

Leave the pie in a cool place to cool overnight – the jelly will take ages to set, so don’t be tempted to open up early (like me), as you will end up with a flood over the kitchen counter.

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8) Eating

The next day, slice open, stand back, admire and feel proud. Then eat with mustard, pickles and beer!! Enjoy.

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Looks yummy! Well formed

A few comments.

I'd leave the pigs trotter whole, then take it out when the stock is done, bone and stuff it, or breadcrumb and grill it

Pork pies should be grey inside, and very peppery. I'd have used more pepper.

Paper collars are for wimps. A hand raised pie should bulge a bit.

I raise the case (called a coffyn) by easing the dough out from the central ball, then putting the jar (originally a wooden former or dolly) on top of the ball and working the sides up. Your method looks easier, but not authentic...

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Looks yummy! Well formed

Thank you

A few comments.

I'd leave the pigs trotter whole, then take it out when the stock is done, bone and stuff it, or breadcrumb and grill it

Split it to let gelatine flood out

Pork pies should be grey inside, and very peppery. I'd have used more pepper.

Not entirely sure about 'should be grey'... the anchovy essence bit is an old ingredient as far as I can gather - I also think that pink is more appetising than grey.

Paper collars are for wimps. A hand raised pie should bulge a bit.

I'm a wimp... however, I liked the trim finish that the collar gave.

I raise the case (called a coffyn) by easing the dough out from the central ball, then putting the jar (originally a wooden former or dolly) on top of the ball and working the sides up. Your method looks easier, but not authentic...

I like your idea, I'll try it next time, although in general I like easy too - don't make it difficult when you don't have to :biggrin:


Edited by fatmat (log)

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i think that thing looks great. but then again i don't have a real frame of reference.

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Wow Mat that looks incredible. How did it taste? Was it worth the effort and are you going to do it again? I also have no frame of reference for a pork pie, but it looks to me to be the sort of thing one would slice wedges off of for the better part of a week.


A island in a lake, on a island in a lake, is where my house would be if I won the lottery.

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Wow Mat that looks incredible.  How did it taste?
It tasted great - as it should but better somehow
Was it worth the effort and are you going to do it again?
It was a lot of effort the first time, but fun. Next time it will be a lot easier, I've got a few ideas for improvements and different fillings - would like to try home corned beef for a start.
I also have no frame of reference for a pork pie, but it looks to me to be the sort of thing one would slice wedges off of for the better part of a week.
Yup!! - with beer

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Matt that looks effing incredible. How was the crust? Did it have a good crunch to it? And what did you think of the spicing for next time?


"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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Matt that looks effing incredible.
Thanks Moby
How was the crust? Did it have a good crunch to it?
It had a good crunch, and for a first time was great...but it wasn't quite as short as I would have liked - it was a tiny bit hard instead. I'm not sure what to do here. I'm going to experiment with lard quantities, liquid/fat temperatures and cooking temperatures. Does anybody have and suggestions/recommendations for this one?
And what did you think of the spicing for next time?
I was really pleased with the spicing - I may add a little more mace/nutmeg/ginger, but it was nicely spiced as it was.
Edited by fatmat (log)

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Excellent looking pie! This demo wonderful, better then the one in "Time-Life. Terrines, Pates & Galantines", and very few people in the last 30 years have managed that. A traditional variation is to put a layer of apple in, which is nice, but the pie doesn't store as long.

If I ever get the time for yet another cooking project, I will do a demo on how to make really big free standing hot water crust pies.

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Excellent looking pie! This demo wonderful, better then the one in "Time-Life. Terrines, Pates & Galantines", and very few people in the last 30 years have managed that.
- That's high praise, many thanks
If I ever get the time for yet another cooking project, I will do a demo on how to make really big free standing hot water crust pies.
By 'really big', how big do you mean?

What recipe do you use for your pastry? What are the factors that affect shortness in a hot water crust?

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Great work! Is the milk/water ratio 1:1?

1:1, but I have no idea what happens if you alter the ratios. Does anyone have any ideas?

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Excellent looking pie! This demo wonderful, better then the one in "Time-Life. Terrines, Pates & Galantines", and very few people in the last 30 years have managed that.
- That's high praise, many thanks
If I ever get the time for yet another cooking project, I will do a demo on how to make really big free standing hot water crust pies.
By 'really big', how big do you mean?

What recipe do you use for your pastry? What are the factors that affect shortness in a hot water crust?

The biggest I have made was about 40 cm wide, but they can be made much bigger. The trick is to make a large sugar loaf shape (a round ended cone shape) of the dough, then cut the top on third off (to make into the lid). For the pie body you punch you hand into the middle and start drawing it out and froming a pie shape (a lot like making a pot). When it gets to the shape you want, fill it up, put the lid on and let it set hard before cooking. You can eat the crust, but it is really just there as protection for the filling.

I am not a pastry person, but in my experience the thing that effected shortness of the pastry the most was the amount of water added. To little and the dough fails as it too short and 'sandy'. I imagine that the water is important to get the gluten network to form (this could be bollocks though).

An example:

Hannah Glasse’s "The Art of Cookery".

Yorkshire Christmas Pie

FIRST make a good standing crust, let the wall and bottom be very thick; bone a turkey, a goose, a fowl, a partridge, and a pigeon. Season them all very well, take half an ounce of mace, half an ounce of nutmegs, a quarter of an ounce of cloves, and half an ounce of black pepper, all beat fine together, two large spoonfuls of salt, and then mix them together. Open the fowls all down the back, and bone them; first the pigeon, then the partridge, cover them; then the fowl, then the goose, and then the turkey, which must be large; season them all well first, and lay them in the crust, so as it will look only like a whole turkey; then have a hare ready cased, and wiped with a clean cloth. Cut it to pieces; that is, joint it; season it, and lay it as close as you can on one side; on the other side woodcocks, moor game, and what sort of wild fowl you can get. Season them well, and lay them close; put at least four pounds of butter into the pie, then lay on your lid, which must be a very thick one, and let it be well baked. It must have a very hot oven, and will take at least four hours.

More pie stuff - scroll down to see the Yorkshire Pie

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Thanks Adam, you've given me some ideas.

I loved the link - those pies are amazing - I've a long way to go yet mind... but it's good to have something to aim for

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Matt that looks effing incredible.
Thanks Moby
How was the crust? Did it have a good crunch to it?
It had a good crunch, and for a first time was great...but it wasn't quite as short as I would have liked - it was a tiny bit hard instead. I'm not sure what to do here. I'm going to experiment with lard quantities, liquid/fat temperatures and cooking temperatures. Does anybody have and suggestions/recommendations for this one?

Hi Mat,

I don't have much experience with hot water pastry, but I know that overworking the dough (and developing the gluten) will make it tougher. Could this be why the pastry was a bit tough? (I do remember kneading hot water pastry before, though...)

I am wondering if perhaps using cake flour or adding a few tablespoons of cornstarch to your all-purpose flour (to lower gluten content) will yield a more tender pastry crust.

I assume that the milk adds protein to your dough for structure? I use a beaten egg in my pie crusts instead, or a few tablespoons of sour cream.

Is the hot water dough traditional (and necessary) for a pork pie? Is the pastry supposed to be flaky and light (for example, like in an apple pie?)

AWESOME DEMO, btw! :wub:


Edited by Ling (log)

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Glad you've brought up the topic of hot water pastry - the photos are most instructive too. I tried it only once when I was very young, with a miserable lack of success, and have often thought of trying again now that I live in a pork-loving country!

Beautiful pie!

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That looks sooo good! What beer were you drinking with that?


If only Jack Nicholson could have narrated my dinner, it would have been perfect.

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Excellent presentation indeed. Thanks.


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Is the hot water dough traditional (and necessary) for a pork pie? Is the pastry supposed to be flaky and light (for example, like in an apple pie?

Hi Ling, Many thanks for your ideas. You've come up with some good stuff. I need to do some experiments.

The hot water dough is traditional - I think that originally it was used as a means of keeping the meat tender and juicy, and would have been thrown away, but eventually people started eating the crust as well (a little like the batter for fish).

The pastry is meant to be firm but crisp - almost like a biscuit...almost

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