Pork Pie sliced on a plate

Pork pies are one the oldest and most popular of all our cold savoury dishes. The recipe can be traced back to medieval times when cooked meats were often preserved in a simple water based pastry. As the meat shrinks during cooking, pork stock or hot fat was poured into the pie case to fill the remaining gap, thus keeping the meat sterile for longer. Today commercial bakers use a jellied stock of clear gelatin as a filling agent, which is more palatable.

One of the most famous of all Pork Pie recipes comes from the Leicestershire village of Melton Mowbray. Originated in the early 19th century by local shopkeepers Edward Adcock and Enoch Evans, Melton Mowbray pies are made with a hand-formed pastry and the meat is chopped not minced.

Ingredients for Pork Pie

The following will make a good family-sized pie or two smaller ones.

  • 20oz (575g) plain flour
  • 3rd pint (200ml) water
  • 6oz (175g) lard
  • 1 beaten egg to glaze
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sage and thyme finely chopped (optional)
  • 28oz (800g) of fresh finely chopped pork shoulder (uncured). Do not use bacon or ham.
  • 14oz (400g) of finely chopped belly pork.
  • half pint (250ml) pork stock (made using a stock cube or granules)
  • gelatine - enough to set a half pint of liquid

You will also need a dolly or former to make the pie case. If you don't have anything suitable, a clean 2lb glass jar will do.

Cooking time: approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes.

How to Make Pork Pie

NOTE: Using the traditional hand-form method below, the pastry will need to be prepared first and chilled overnight. However, if you are using a pie mould then the pastry can be used straight away.

Making the Pastry (Day 1)

  1. Sift the flour into a warm bowl. Gently heat the lard and water together in a pan, until just boiling. Season with a little salt. Add this to the flour and mix rapidly with a wooden spoon until the mixture is cool enough to knead.
  2. Knead the pastry well for around 15 minutes to exclude all air. Keep one quarter of the pastry aside to make the pie lid. Roll the rest into a ball, cover with foil and leave in the fridge overnight.

Making the Pie (Day 2)

  1. Remove the pastry from the fridge and allow to it to settle for a few hours before making the pie case.
  2. Dice and mix the fresh pork and herbs together, and season with a little salt and pepper.
  3. Take your dolly (or glass jar) and push it firmly into the centre of the pasty ball. This should push the wall sides up and outwards, ready for forming. Make sure you do not push the dolly right through the bottom of the pastry case!.
  4. Rotate the dolly whilst gently raising the pastry up the edge until the required even height and thickness is achieved, leaving no cracks. Once complete, ease the dolly from the pastry mould.
  5. Pack the seasoned and chopped fresh pork into the pastry case, until full.
  6. Roll out the reserved pastry for the lid and cut out a circular lid.
  7. Using the beaten egg, dampen the edged of both the lid and pastry case so they will form a seal.
  8. Place the lid onto the case and gently pinch the edges to seal them well. It is important to ensure the lid is securely sealed to prevent the pie case sides collapsing when baking.
  9. Chill the pie in the fridge for at least an hour before cooking.
  10. Make two small holes in the lid of the pie. These will allow steam to escape while cooking and will be used later to fill the pie with jelly.
  11. Place on a baking tray and bake at 200 deg C for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 160/140 deg C and cook for a further 90 minutes. Brush the top with the beaten egg and return to the oven for a further 20 minutes, until a rich golden brown.
  12. Once fully baked remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  13. Dissolve the gelatine in the pork stock as per the makers instructions. Cool this to room temperature.
  14. Using a small funnel, pour the mix into one of the holes in the pie lid, a little at a time, until full.
  15. Leave to cool further. Ideally, the pie should be left to cool overnight in the fridge before eating.

Serving Suggestions

Pork pie is normally eaten cold. Slice the pie into wedges and serve as a snack on its own, or with a picnic or a salad.

Other recipes to try: Cornish Pasties | Full English | Recipe Index

Recipe: traditional

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