Making Pork Pies

I have to admit, these Melton Mowbray-style pork pies aren’t something you just throw together, but for the serious pork pie enthusiast they are well worth the time and effort. To make them the old-fashioned way you’ll need an old-fashioned piece of equipment called a pie dolly plus some rendered leaf lard, for without good quality lard the side walls of the pie won’t stand up in the oven. Oh yes friends, these pies are baked free-standing, didn’t you know? Forms are for sissies. At least they are in Melton Mowbray.

That said you absolutely can adapt this recipe to more conventional ingredients and equipment. A standard hot water pie crust or even an American-style pie crust can be used along with a muffin tin or other form. They’ll come together in an afternoon. Personally, once I read about this technique I couldn’t resist trying it, even if it took three days. The result was the pork pie of the gods.

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English Pork Pie Recipe

A classic pork pie has three components: crust, filling and “jelly” or a gelatin-thickened stock which is poured in through a hole in the top crust while the pie is still warm from the oven. Why the jelly? Because these pies bake for a good 90 minutes. In that time the fresh pork is going to lose some if its moisture. The jelly is a way of putting back some of that moisture, as well as adding extra flavor. Notice my recipe calls for powdered gelatin. If you prefer you can make the stock the traditional way by adding two fresh pork trotters (feet) to the stock. Me, I’d just as soon let the good folks at Knox smell up their kitchen with feet, that’s what I pay them for.

For the Stock

2 pounds pork bones
1 bay leaf
about 20 black peppercorns
1 carrot, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 celery rib, diced
small bunch fresh parsley
several sprigs fresh thyme
powdered gelatin (one envelope [2 1/4 teaspoons] per 2 cups of stock)

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