Almost a Pork Pie

After 8 hours of cooking at work yesterday I got home pretty exhausted, and embarked on the process of making some Pork Pies. I was intending to wax lyrical (draft and all had been written, now deleted) about the ease and wonder of making a pork pie.  Then I made some and they looked like this, somewhere between a pastie and pie:

They may not look the part, but they have one redeeming feature and that is that they’re very tasty.  However, I might be hard pushed to label them ‘Pork Pies’.  They’re certainly not prize pies, but pleasing nonetheless.  I think the principal problem is that I spread the pastry a bit thin and I’m about 80% certain that with a bit of tweaking I will post in the near future a slightly more succesful attempt.  It’s not the first time I’ve made them (and they were better the last time, I promise), so I know it must be possible.

I don’t really recommend you follow this recipe, unless of course you want to make some pies that are WITHOUT DOUBT homemade.  The reason I even started on it was that I wanted to do something a bit more interesting with the rest of my chicken stock, I was excited by the idea and I had some pork in the freezer and more or less the rest of the ingredients to hand.  I’m sort of in love with them; they’re not beauties, but they kick ass on the character front - they remind me of a question my sister Sophie once asked me; “would you rather be an impala or a warthog?”.  A warthog, I replied without hesitation.  So here goes the recipe for the warthog of pies.

There are three components; pastry, jellied stock and filling.

Pastry

125 ml water

60g butter

60g lard

340g flour

1 tsp salt

2 eggs, beaten

First off, you need to line the outsides of your moulds.  I’m using five ramekins.  Cut five strips of greaseproof paper to fit round the sides and 5 discs to go on the base. Do one ramekin at a time; secure the greaseproof layer with a little tape and then wrap in a double layer of clingfilm.  Neatness is not important, this is simply to make sure the pastry doesn’t stick to the mould.

Put the water, butter and lard in a saucepan and bring slowly up to the boil.  In a separate bowl, sift in the flour and salt.  Make a well in the centre and crack in the beaten eggs and cover them with flour.  Pour the boiling liquid in around the edges, mixing as you do so.  Flour your hands and knead the dough until it is completely smooth – it should be quite a wet and sticky dough.

Divide it into two portions, one of a third and the other of two thirds.  Put in the fridge for 20 minutes.  Remove the larger portion from the fridge and divide into five, roll these into circles large enough to cover each of the dishes, drape it over the top and shape to cover the dish, a bit of overhang is a good thing.  Put in the fridge uncovered to set for 1 hour, until the pastry has dried out and hardened.

Once the pastry has hardened, remove the ramekins, paper and clingfilm.  Roll the remaining third of pastry into discs for the lids.  It is now ready to be filled.

Filling

To make up for the other more complicated parts, the filling is super easy as it gets cooked in the pastry.

650g pork shoulder, diced

1/2 onion, diced

5 sprigs thyme, leaves picked

6 sage leaves, chopped

100g lardons

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

4 juniper berries, crushed

Simply mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.  Season very well – this is the all important part, so be generous, especially with black pepper.

Fill each pastry case with this mixture and squash it right down into them.  Wet the rim of the pastry and put a lid on each pie, make sure they’re well sealed and crimp around the edges with your thumb under the lip and two forefingers above.  Make a hole in the top of each pie.

Put into the oven at 190c for 15 minutes.  Turn the oven down to 170c and cook for a further 35 minutes.  Glaze with a beaten egg and then return to the oven for 20 minutes more.  Remove and now it’s time for the jellied stock.

Jellied Stock

My chicken stock was not a jellied stock, traditionally you stuff a pigs trotter in there as they are very gelatinous, instead I’ve used some gelatine – probably a bit of a cheat, but it does the job.

500ml chicken stock

15g powdered gelatine (1 sachet super cook)

I would prepare this while the pies are doing their last 20 minutes in the oven.  Sprinkle the gelatine into a saucepan and pour over about 100ml of the stock, leave it to ‘sponge’ for about 5 minutes.  Then pour over the rest of the stock and put over a low heat until it has all dissolved – do not stir it and do not let it boil.

With the help of a funnel pour the jellied stock into the holes on top of the pies, leaving it to subside before pouring in more.  This may take a while, but you basically want to fill up all the space betwee the chunks of pork.  Put into the fridge to set overnight.

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