Hubs has a hidden talent for Pork Pie making, though the talent wasn’t discovered until he was working with Seasoned to help them trial a pie course. Not a bad talent to have. He may have shouted at Paul Hollywood (on the TV) during the hand raised pie Great British Bake Off episode regarding his pie pastry advice. I suppose it is in his blood. He’s Derbyshire born and bred and pork pies are traditionally a East Midlands delicacy from Melton Mowbray.
Some pork pies are baked in a tin, but the traditional way is to hand raise them. By this you are slowly working a piece of dough up a piece of equipment called a wooden dolly. As the pie is baked it is essentially unsupported. You can use a wooden dolly to make a hand raised pie, but Hubs prefers to use a plain and simple pint glass. On GBBO Mary Berry mentioned how she uses milk bottles then fills the bottle with warm water when she wants to release the pastry.
Pork pies use a pastry called hot water crust pastry. It is a bit different from traditional pastry and when warm is pliable. If the pastry cools and gets difficult to use Hubs just blasts it for a few seconds in the microwave to warm it back through. To get the right texture inside the pie Hubs uses a mixture of pork mince and diced pork shoulder. You will also need to season more than you think you do. To check the mixture, season it then fry a small amount of the mixture off. Then taste it to see if it is seasoned to your preference.
I don’t like the jelly in pork pies, even before I knew it involved boiling pigs trotters, but do make the exception for these pies. I have eaten a deliberately warm pork pie before that was really nice. It wasn’t the type of warm pork pie that has been slowly heating up on the dodgy looking buffet spread that is increasingly likely to give you food poisoning. Come on, you know the type of buffets I’m talking about: the vol au vents, chicken legs, cheesecake, vol au vents, chicken legs, cheesecake affairs. Avoid like the plague and have more respect for the humble pork pie.
Once you have mastered the pastry you can really play around with the fillings. You can layer up different fillings or add the odd boiled egg to turn it into a gala pie. The cooked pies can be wrapped in greaseproof paper and foil then frozen for up to 6 months. When ready to eat, thaw for 48 hours in the fridge.
Hot Water Crust Pastry
Makes 6 pies
500g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1) Put the lard and water in to a saucepan and slowly heat until the mixture turns clear. When it reaches this point turn up the mixture until it is at a rapid boil.
2) In a large bowl sift together the flour and salt then pour in the watery lard. Mix until you have a rough dough, then turn out onto a floured surface knead until the dough is smooth.
3) Divide this mixture into 6 balls, then divide each ball into 1/3 and 2/3 (a bit like if you were making a pastry snowman). The 1/3 will be the lid and the 2/3 will be base.
Pork & Chorizo filling
300g lean pork shoulder, diced
300g pork mince
150g chorizo, diced
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 egg, beaten
4) Mix all the filling ingredients together. Fry a small amount of the mixture off and check the seasoning. It requires more seasoning than you think. Once you are happy with the seasoning, chill in the fridge (uncooked) until you are ready to use it.
5) Take the largest ball of dough and press flat. Lightly oil the dolly then place the dolly in the centre of the dough circle and slowly work up the sides until it is about 10cm high.
6) Using a sharp knife ease the dough off the dolly.
7) Take a 1/6 of your filling and roll it in to a ball. Firmly throw it in to the centre of the dough cup you’ve made (without destroying the shape!) This bit sounds mad, but it’s essential to do this to get all the filling in to the spaces and help knock out any air spaces.
8) Roll out the remaining smaller piece of dough until it is a few cm larger than the pie diameter. If you are cutting a shape out of the lid do it now. Brush the inside lip of the pie with beaten egg then place lid on top. Crimp the edges to secure it.
9) Cut a hole in the lid (if you haven’t cut a shape) to allow steam to escape and brush with egg.
10) Bake at 200°c for 10 minutes and then turn down the oven to 180°c and bake for a further 45 minutes. The pie is ready once it is golden. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack. and store in the fridge while you finish making the jelly.
Pork pie jelly
900g pork bones
2 pigs trotters
1 white onion
2 bay leaves
2 tsp cracked black pepper
2 tsp salt
11) Place all the ingredients in a pan with just enough water to cover them. Bring to the boil and simmer for 3 hours.
12) Strain the mixture to rid of all solids, then pass through a muslin to clarify the mixture.
13) Return to simmer until mixture has reduced by 1/3. The jelly is ready when a small amount of mixture put on a plate and chilled in the fridge, sets.
14) Once the mixture is ready, take off the heat.
15) One of the best ways to fill a pie with jelly is with a food grade syringe. A funnel can also be used. Fill the pies until you can see the jelly at the top. Refrigerate the pies for 20 min.
16) After 20 min, if needed, top up the jelly in the pies. The jelly needs to completely fill the pies. The jelly is there to help preserve the pies by making them air tight. Keep the pies in the fridge until you are ready to eat them and eat within 5 days of baking.