I love pork pies. I don’t eat them very often because I’ve had plenty of bad ones, but every now and again at a farmers market or in a traditional pub, I might treat myself to one.
I’d always appreciated them, but I certainly never entertained the idea of making my own, it seemed like far too much effort. Then for Christmas last year I was given a copy of Dan Lepard’s book Short and Sweet and it contained a recipe for pork pies. After reading how to make them I decided that perhaps it wasn’t as difficult as I had initially thought and I decided to give them a go.
I’ve now made this recipe about four times and they’re delicious. So whilst these aren’t really associated with Patisserie, they are made of hot water crust pastry, so I thought I would include them in the blog…because I can.
Hand raised pork pies originate from Melton Mowbray and they have been given protected status so that the pies which carry the ‘Melton Mowbray’ name have to be produced within a specified geographic area.
These pies are made without a tin and the hot water crust pastry is shaped around a dolly (or a jar with clingfilm wrapped round it), then filled with meat, sealed, cooked in the oven and filled with jelly and left to cool.
Hot water crust is a warm pastry made from a mixture of water, flour and melted butter and lard. This is combined to form a rough dough and left to cool to room temperature. I love working with this pastry because I have really hot hands and I struggle to work quickly enough with most other forms of pastry. However this pastry needs to be worked with while still warm, which makes it so much easier to shape and mould, it also has a really nice texture for working with.
The pastry is then rolled and folded to smooth it out, it’s then shaped around a dolly. These are incredibly expensive to buy, so I use a clean jar with clingfilm wrapped around it. which does the job just as well.
The shaped pastry cases are then put in the fridge for 5 minutes to firm them up, before the pastry is gently eased off the mould and filled with the meat filling that has been marinating overnight. The cold temperature of the meat also helps the pie to keep it’s shape.
A pastry lid is added, brushed with egg wash, and some strips of greaseproof paper are tied round the sides of the pie to help support it whilst it cooks. The pies are then placed in the fridge for a further 30 mins before cooking for 1 and a half hours.
The cooked pies are then left to cool for around 30 minutes before they’re filled with a pork stock flavoured jelly and left to cool completely. While some elements of this recipe differ from the traditional melton mowbray pork pie, they’re pretty close to the original. Normally strips of paper wouldn’t be used when cooking and I haven’t tried cooking the pies without this, but I think they would just bow outwards.
I also drew the line at boiling up my own bones to make a jelly and instead opted for some leaf gelatine to fill these pies. Perhaps that’s a cop out, but one I’m more than happy to admit to.
Here’s the detailed recipe from Dan Lepard’s book, which I highly recommend, it’s got some great recipes and the bread section is fantastic.
- ***Hot Water Crust Pastry***
- 100g Unsalted Butter
- 325g Strong White Flour
- 325g Plain Flour
- 125g Lard
- 175ml Water
- 2 Tsp of fine Salt
- ***Pie filling***
- 175g Gammon
- 1 Tsp Dried Sage
- 1 Tsp White Pepper
- ½ Tsp Ground Mace
- ½ Tsp Ground Ginger
- 75ml Cold Water
- 675g Boneless Fatty Pork Chops
- 1 Stock Cube (pork/chicken/vegetable)
- 150ml Boiling Water
- 150ml Warm Water
- 4 Tsps of Powdered Gelatine (or 4 large or 8 small sheets of leaf gelatine)
- ***To Finish***
- 1 Egg
- Flour for rolling and shaping
- Put 50g of the gammon, chopped into small pieces, into a food processor with the sage, pepper, mace and ginger. Add the cold water and blitz this to a smooth paste, then put it into a bowl with the pork chops and remaining gammon, both cut into 1cm cubes and stir well. Chill the filling for at least four hours, preferably overnight.
- Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Place the lard and water in a saucepan and heat gently until the lard has melted and the mixture is hot but not boiling.
- Add the salt, stir until it dissolves, then pour this over the flour and mix quickly into a dough. Work it with a knife to begin with, then as soon as it is cool enough to get your hands in, knead the dough well with your fingers until it is mixed evenly and formed into a ball.
- Press the dough out onto a plate, cover with paper or clingfilm and leave until barely warm (about 24-26C).
- Lightly flour the work surface and roll the dough out to about ½cm thick. Fold the dough in thirds (like a letter), then repeat this roll and fold again.
- Leave the dough to cool to room temperature (21C),
- To shape each pie use clean jam jars, wrap them in clingfilm. Roll the pastry out to about 1cm thick and cut out a circle larger than the jars.
- Turn the jars upside down drape the pastry over the jars, press the dough against the sides of the jar with your fingers working it to remove any pleats from the pastry, stretch to about 5cm in length.
- Repeat with another jar until you have 6 pies.
- Place the pie moulds in the fridge for about 5 minutes. Remove them from the fridge and carefully prise the pastry off the jars using a blunt butter knife.
- Pack the pies with the filling, then roll out the trimmings to make a lid. Brush water around the inside of the rim of the pastry shell, then lay the lid in place and press it down so that it fits tightly against the filling. Pinch it together firmly with your fingers.
- Wrap some strips of non-stick baking parchment around the middle of the pie and tie snugly with string, this will stop the pie bulging.
- To finish brush the lid and lip with a little beaten egg and cut a hole in the centre of the lid, make sure it's the size of a fingertip.
- Repeat with the other pies.
- Chill the pies for 30 minutes heat the oven to 180C and bake on a foil lined tray for 1½ hours, or until the centre of the pie reaches 75C. Let the pies cool for 30 minutes, then make the jelly by crumbling the stock cubes into the boiling water in a jug and stirring well.
- Sprinkle the powdered gelatine into the warm water, stirring until dissolved (or cut the leaf gelatine into small pieces and soak in the warm water until soft). Stir this in with the stock and cool slightly. Pour enough jelly into each pie through the hole in the top and leave to chill overnight before eating.
- The pies can be quite fragile when still warm, so it is best to leave them on the tray they were cooked on and fill them with the jelly and leave them there overnight.
Do like pork pies? Or are you more of a Scotch Egg or Cornish Pasty fan? Let me know in the comments.
Thanks for reading.