Make your Own Traditional Raised Pork Pie
Nothing says a sumptuous tea-time like a home made pork pie with pickles and salad. Indeed there is nothing quite like an afternoon spent making traditional raised pork pies, from the bubbling jellied stock containing pork bones and pigs trotters; the chopping and bashing of the pork shoulder; the moulding of the warm dough and the proud moment of unveiling a home-made, heavy pork pie.
A home-made pork pie is something to be savored in both the making and the eating.
There are many recipes for pork pies around many which involve more spices and combinations of pork shoulder, belly and bacon, but the recipe below is a family recipe that yields a simple yet delicious pie that goes well with pickles and makes for a very good spot of supper.
For the Jellied stock:
Bones from the pork
2 pig’s trotters
1 large carrot
1 small bunch thyme
4 bay leaves
4 large stalks of celery
1 lemon halved
6 black peppercorns
Pinch of sea salt
Get your butcher to remove the bones from the pork shoulder and ask for a couple of pigs trotters to go with these bones, for together they will make a most excellent jellied stock. The jelly making takes a few hours to complete so it’s best to start this off first and it can be cooking in the background whilst you get on with making the pie.
In a large saucepan place the bones, trotters, vegetables and seasoning and cover with 2 ½ pints of water. Bring to the boil and the place on the lid and reduce to a gentle simmer for two hours. After two hours strain the stock through a sieve and return the resulting liquid into a clean pan and boil rapidly until the liquid has reduced to around a pint in volume. Season to taste and decant into a jug to cool. When it is cold it should be nice and thick, but if you should find it to be too runny then simply pop in back in a saucepan and boil rapidly again for another ten minutes.
Tip: This will keep in the fridge for four days, so it could be made well in advance.
Please Note: The quantities in this recipe will yield enough jelly and filling for two pies, but as the pastry needs to be worked whilst warm the pastry will only yield enough for one pie, giving you time to create one pie and then repeat the process with fresh, warm pastry for the second creation.
1 ½ lbs boned pork shoulder
½ tsp ground mace
½ tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp mixed spiced
Making the filling is always an opportunity to vent your frustrations in life as it involves chopping and pounding. You can use a food processor or mincer but the texture will be much more interesting if you can manage to do it all by hand. Chop the pork into ½ inch cubes and then use either a meat tenderiser to bash the chopped meat with or do as I do and simply cover a heavy rolling pin with cling film and then reflect on the days irritations before letting loose on bashing the filling for a few minutes. We are looking for chopped filling not paste so don’t get too enthusiastic in your tenderising activities! Season the filling and then set aside, whilst you get on with the pastry.
For the hot-crust pastry:
Making hot-crust pastry is not like any other pastry making exercise; in fact to make hot crust pastry is to cast aside all the normal pastry making rules, it calls for boiling water and melted fat, prefers to be kept warm and appreciates being handled. The best tip I can give when working with hot crust pastry is to use the pastry when warm and pliable, but not too hot that it cannot hold its form.
Pinch of sea salt
Put the lard and water into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Sift the flour with a good pinch of salt into a large bowl. Pour the hot lard and water into the flour, mix with a wooden spoon, then leave until cool enough to handle.
Raise your hand for a Pie
I raise my pork pies by hand and because they’re unsupported when they bake, the sides drop slightly and expand outwards like a pot belly, giving them a plump and rather artisan look.
Now, there are people out there who call their pies “hand-raised” even though they are baked in a tin and although it does makes the process simpler, it’s not half as much fun. However if you don’t want to try raising the pie completely unaided you can employ the use of a wooden pie dolly or a jam jar.
Remember the pastry must be warm when you start to work it!
Knead the pastry into a ball and remove a quarter of the pastry for the lid. On a lightly floured surface, press out the remaining three-quarters of the pastry into a round.
Place a mound of filling in the centre of the pastry round and press together to keep it together as much as possible (a stickier, raw filling will be easier to mould).
Sculpt the pastry around the filling, trying as much as possible to make sure it is the same thickness all around and on the base. The first time you do this process it can be a bit fiddly, but with practice this becomes quite easy and it is rather enjoyable. Cup both hands under the edge of the pastry round and press it up tightly against the filling, building the sides straight up to the top of the filling. Work the pastry up the sides of the filling and rotate the pie on the floured surface with your palms to even out the sides and to make sure the filling is packed in, ensuring there are no holes in the pastry.
You need to work with the pastry whilst it is warm and malleable, once it cools it will become difficult to sculpt and will be prone to cracking and crumbling.
Brush a little water inside the rim of the pastry. Place the lid on top of the filling and press the edges of the pastry together to seal, with the rim slightly rising above the lid. Rotate the pie on the floured surface while pressing the sides gently
Place the pie on a lightly greased baking tray and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.
You will now need to make another batch of pastry and repeat the process with the remainder of your filling.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/ gas mark 6
Brush the lids of the pies, but not the crimp with egg wash, create a hole in the centre of each pie. Cook for 25-30 minutes and then wrap a little baking parchment around each pie (to prevent the pastry over-browning), reduce the temperature of the oven 160°C, gas mark 6 and cook the pies for a further 50 minutes.
Allow the pies to cool slightly and then pour the jellied stock carefully through the hole in the top of the pastry. A funnel is invaluable in this process, but if you don’t have one a cone made from grease-proof paper works fine. Leave the pie to cool, then refrigerate overnight.