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chardan

An American Attempts to make... English Pork Pie!

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Sometimes reason abandons us and there are no logical explanations for our actions.

After reading this amazing eGullet thread: fatmat's Great British Pork Pie!

...I realized that I had no choice: I was going to try to make a pork pie.

Now, I had never made a pie of any sort before. At all. When I made tarts, I just bought a good prefab crust and called it good. So this was going to be something of a challenge.

Needless to say, the bad news is that things did not turn out perfectly. The good news is that with the exception of an in places overly-thick crust and cloudy aspic, one thing that did turn out very well indeed was the taste: wow-- Delicious! I am definitely going to repeat!

So, first thing's first. A big "thank you!" to fatmat for inspiring us to try this! What a treat.

You may find the recipe from fatmat at the link above. I'm going to share some pictures, and also indicate a couple of things that I learned from trying this and could do better next time.

1. I don't think it is mentioned in the recipe, but fatmat uses an egg wash on the crust. This step is probably quite obvious to any experienced baker, but that's not me. So, we "sort of" added one toward the end of the baking. Not having a brush... well, it wasn't very even. But still a little more attractive than the gray color you get otherwise.

2. If you remove the paper before baking, your pie will probably "flatten out" a little. According to some sources (below) this is actually more traditional, but if you leave it on you'll have a more regularly-shaped pie. We took ours off, unlike fatmat's recipe (if I understood properly?)-- and I think next time, I'll be leaving them on.

3. Again, I had never made a true pie of any sort before, so I didn't quite get the "lid" applied correctly. Note that fatmat's recipe specifically says to leaves the cutter in-- we don't have any cutters, so they were not used and could not be left in. Happily, this doesn't seem to have mattered too terribly much.

4. The next time, I'll make the crust thinner, and be very meticulous about being sure the bottom especially is completely leak-proof. I had just a bit of seepage.

5. I'm pleased to say that Asian fish sauce seems to be acceptable (we used "Three Crabs" brand) as a substitute for English anchovy essence. You probably could try anchovy paste as well.

Some further reading:

Pork Pie Appreciation Society

A pork pie article.

Another Pork Pie Article

...well, I hope that I didn't embarass my countrymen too badly in my attempt. Although they aren't so pretty (a far cry from fatmat's beauties!), I'll bet that even a full-blooded Englishman wouldn't have minded a bite or two.

Thanks for reading about this experiment! I'll definitely be making more of these

during the hot Southern Oregon Summer! (Next time: Little ones to share with friends.)

Here are the makings of our jellied stock. Pork bones, leeks, onion, carrot, pig's foot, parsely, bay leaf, peppercorns, etc.. Also, the rind (skin) of the pork belly.

69093443-L.jpg

The filling was made from fresh pork belly and local bacon, with sage, mace, and other goodies (see fatmat's recipe):

69093419-L.jpg

Filling the coffins (are these called coffins, or does that term refer to something else?):

69093445-L.jpg

Ready for the oven. Obviously, I have got a great deal more to learn about how to build a

pie! I found getting the lids on especially problematic (in part because the crust had begun

to become a bit less pliable by this time), and the results weren't too pretty. My ladyfriend made

the decorated one, mine is on the right. In any case, this will be something I definitely hope

to improve for next time:

69093483-L.jpg

Here's one that's been baked (see above note about egg wash):

69344847-L.jpg

The moment of truth. Does total disaster await..?

69344763-L.jpg

I declare this pie ugly but damn delicious! I ended up serving it with three kinds of mustard,

a Ghentish one (bottom), Coleman's (powdered mix), and a Dijon. The crust was too think

in places, but otherwise, this was very tasty!

69344768-L.jpg

If you want to, you may read a little more about this near-misadventure here.

Anyway, this was fun, I learned a lot, and am feeling very full and content!

Thanks, again fatmat and eGullet!!

_Jesse Williamson ;-};

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WOW! Gorgeous.. I will do this recipe too. We need more pork pie in this world.


Edited by Hector (log)

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Thanks, Hector!

You are indeed a great hero. One who can proudly stand up for pork pie is absolutely all right in my book, sir!!

If only everyone could make a nice pie some night, of their vegetable or meat of choice-- sweet or not, how savory might that be... mmm.

_Jesse Williamson ;-};

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Welcome to the world of raised pies. You can get spring-loaded gismos in the UK to hold the pastry up which work well. This counters the ugliness (which has never bothered me). Try adding a strip of finely chopped leeks and herbs in the middle of the filling.

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chardan, you are mistaking symmetry for beauty. All hand-made foods have small asymmetries in them that are points for TLC to show through.

That is a truly beautiful pie.

Do you FedEx them?


I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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I also think it's beautiful. And I'm glad to hear it tasted good!

This is something that is on my "I-would-really-like-to-do-that-but-I'm-afraid-to" list (a very long list, that one).

Your report may have brought me one little step closer to trying it myself.. somewhere in the future.

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Well done! Meat pies are one of the great elements of British cooking - I'm so impressed you made one! (The ones over there look rustic, too - yours looks fine).

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WOW! Gorgeous.. We need more pork pie in this world.

Ditto.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that is a good pie.

Don't know about the mustard though, I would have chosen a nice piccalilli.

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Try adding a strip of finely chopped leeks and herbs in the middle of the filling.

Thanks! That's a good suggestion, I may give that a go for next time! These were a joy to make, lots of fun. -J.

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That is a truly beautiful pie.

Do you FedEx them?

Thank you very much for the kind words. Sorry, but I don't think

that FedExing them in this heat is a good idea... ;-P

-J.

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I also think it's beautiful. And I'm glad to hear it tasted good!

This is something that is on my "I-would-really-like-to-do-that-but-I'm-afraid-to" list (a very long list, that one).

Thanks for the compilment. I was pretty nervous about giving it a go... my track record with baking is not good. ;> I'm very glad I did-- I just couldn't take looking at fatmat's pie any longer. hehe.

By the way, I am enjoying your Dutch cooking thread!

-J.

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Well done!  Meat pies are one of the great elements of British cooking - I'm so impressed you made one!  (The ones over there look rustic, too - yours looks fine).

Whew! A high level of relief... Some lessons learned for next time.

Others might enjoy knowing that I served these to several of my friends (a couple were a bit squeamish about meat pies, even without knowing that a piggy's foot was involved), and without exception they were enjoyed! Perfect for hot weather. -J.

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that is a good pie.

Don't know about the mustard though, I would have chosen a nice piccalilli.

Thanks for the compliment.

I enjoyed the mustard... but now I've got to ask what piccalilli is! I mean,

I'm going to have to try making pork pie again, so I'd better know... ;>

-J.

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that is a good pie.

Don't know about the mustard though, I would have chosen a nice piccalilli.

Thanks for the compliment.

I enjoyed the mustard... but now I've got to ask what piccalilli is! I mean,

I'm going to have to try making pork pie again, so I'd better know... ;>

-J.

Loosely speaking piccalilli is pickled vegetables (cauliflower, gherkin and onion) in a mild mustard based sauce.

http://thefoody.com/preserves/piccalilli.html

The best raised pie I ever made was very similar to your first effort, however, I split the pork mixture with a few chicken breasts and covered that with rest of the pork.

Once you've mastered the pastry you can virtually use any type of meat.

Another variation is to omit the top crust and cover the pork with some cranberries that have been soaked in a light sugar syrup.

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I'm not entirely full blooded - or entirely English for that matter - but I have a proper pork pie in my fridge awaiting the bell to strike noon (about 15 seconds to go) and I would gladly go for a slab of your one insead.


Edited by MobyP (log)

"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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