Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pork Pies

The history of the world, my sweet --
Oh, Mr. Todd,
Ooh, Mr. Todd,
What does it tell?
Is who gets eaten, and who gets to eat!
And, Mr. Todd,
Too, Mr. Todd,
Who gets to sell!
But fortunately, it's also clear
That [L: But] ev'rybody goes down well with beer!

I googled various Pork Pie recipes but ended up using the Hand-Raised Pork Pie recipe from Mary Norwak´s The Farmhouse Kitchen.

I really wanted to try the hot water crust, which I´ve never done before. I have to say - it worked great! Much faster and more straightforward than the traditional cutting in of cold fat and then adding miniscule amounts of cold water to get the right consistency.

I made 2 using minced pork and 2 using cubed just to see if there was any noticable difference. I also added a dash of Worcestershire, because I can´t do anything strictly by the rules.

I even went to the trouble to make the stock, using some roast pork bones I´d put in the freezer for a future occasion, but when the pies came out of the oven, they didn´t have any space between the top of the crust and the meat - so that was wasted effort. I guess I´ll freeze it for stew.

350g/12 oz self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
100 g / 4 oz lard
150 ml / 1/4 pint water
1 egg

575 g / 1 1/4 lb. shoulder pork
1/2 teaspoon powdered sage
Salt and Pepper

450 g/1 lb pork bones or a trotter
1.1 Litre/2 pints water
1 onion
1 tsp gelatine

Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl. Boil the lard and water in a pan. When dissolved, pour into the centre of the flour while hot. Work all together until a smooth dough is obtained. Cut off a third of the dough and reserve for the lid. Work the remainder on a floured board, gradually moulding to form a bowl shape. (A cake tin can be used as a guide.) Put on a greased baking sheet and fill the centre with the diced pork, sage and seasoning. Roll out the reserved third for the lid, brush edges of the pie with beaten egg and seal on the lid. Use trimmings to form leaves for decoration. Make a hole in the top and brush the pie all over with the egg. Bake at 400 F, 200 C, gas mark 6 for thirty minutes, then reduce heat to 360 F, 180 C, gas mark 4 for a further one and a half hours. Make a jelly from the bones, water, onion and seasoning by boiling for about two hours. Strain, and add the dissolved gelatine. Allow to cool but not set. Pour enough into the hole in the lid when the pie is cool to fill it, leave to set before cutting.

Well that whole thing about forming the dough around a shape was a non-starter. First of all, I don´t own anything bowl-shaped that isn´t smaller at the base than in the middle - I finally tried a clamp topped preserves jar as a last stab, but the whole thing slumped flat onto the cutting board when I tried to slip it off. So I did what I remember my Mom doing - separate base, sides and top and sealing all the seams. They were fondly called ¨Elephant´s feet¨ at our house.

And they stuck like the Dickens to the cookie sheet, and leaked pork juice all over the oven. I´ll be very curious to see if they´re done all the way through. Traditionally, they´re eaten cold for lunch, so I´ll let you know tomorrow.

My childhood friends listened in fascinated horror to my descriptions of Bubble and Squeak, Toad in the Hole, Steak and Kidney Pie and, I swear to God, Spotted Dick. The Farmhouse Cookbook has absolutely wonderful sounding things. I´m really looking forward to Bedfordshire Clanger, Kentish Huffkins, Yorkshire Fat Rascals, and Tyneside Singin´ Hinney. Join me?


  1. The bottom of a wine bottle kind of works for pork pies, but they do slump a bit. thats part of the charm though.

  2. Well I do usually have bottles of wine - but this was more along the lines of utter collapse. I did wonder if I was supposed to refrigerate it and let it rest before rolling out, but the instructions did not say to.

  3. Where did you manage to get the lard? I've looked everywhere for it, I needed it when I was making Calendula ointment but ended up having to buy pork fat and rendering it down.

  4. Ahora Mas has it in tubs here, from jamon iberico, in the cooler section. Manteca is what you´re looking for. I think you can get it by weight from the butcher´s counter or the stall with embutidos (sausage, cheese etc.)as well - along with butter. But you can´t get suet - I asked last year for Christmas puddings, but they told me that after the mad cow scare it´s no longer available.

  5. Hi Coco, I will look. Now I can help you with the suet,if you asked your butcher for rinyoles [I think that's how it's spelled]con grasa [ kidneys with the fat] you will have your suet! just grate it up and use as you would the stuff in a packet. It doesn't matter which animal it's from but it would normally be beef kidney, then you can make yummy steak and kidney pie or pudding.It will keep for about a week in the fridge and you can freeze it.

  6. ¨Riñones¨ is the word you´re looking for. Thanks!

    As it turns out - the pies are just so-so. The crust isn´t particularly flakey (probably due to overhandling). The pork tastes good, but is too dry (probably because of all the juice leaking all over the oven - oy) and the meat shrunk from the sides, not from the top. Don´t know how you could fix that with the gelatine. We ate 2 and put the other 2 in the freezer.

  7. Hi Coco, my recipe says to leave a gap at the top of the pie before putting on the top but I would have thought the lid would collapse inward, it doesn't say anything about leaving a hole in the top, that comes when the pie is cooked and cold, then make a small hole to get the gelatine in, leave for 24hrs before eating.Shrinking from the sides would be the norm for a proper pork pie as there was always gelatine the sides as well as the top. I've got some suckling pig in the freezer, I will give it a go soon, like most Brits, we love pork pies.