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 (use chicken if it’s easier…and it probably is)
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 1 teaspoons per cup of stock)

Place the bones, bay leaf and peppercorns in a large pot, pour in enough cold water to cover. Bring the water to the boil, then turn down to a bare simmer and allow it to barely bubble for 1 1/2 hours. Add the diced vegetables and simmer another half an hour. Add the herbs and simmer for a final 15 minutes or so. Turn off the heat, let the broth cool and strain it through cheesecloth. Let the stock cool and refrigerate it until needed.

On baking day measure the stock to find out how much you have (should be at least 1 1/2 quarts). Pour two cups into a sauce pan and set it over medium heat (reserve the rest for another use). Meanwhile, combine two teaspoons of gelatin with about two tablespoons if ice water and stir to moisten. When the stock heat to a low simmer, whisk in the gelatin mixture and make sure it dissolves completely. Remove the simmering mixture from the heat and allow it to cool (though it needs to remain liquid for the filling process).

For the Filling

1.5 pounds ounces pork shoulder (pork butt) cut in pieces
4 ounces slab bacon, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons anchovy paste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well chopped but not paste-like. Alternatley you can chop the meat finely by hand before mixing everything together.

For the Crust

One recipe hot water pie crust, chilled overnight then rested at room temperature for about three hours

To Shape and Bake

Shape according to the Making Pork Pies tutorial. Allow them to rest overnight in the refrigerator then coat with egg wash and bake in a preheated 400 degree (Fahrenheit) oven for 30 minutes. Rotate the pan lower the heat to 350 and bake a further 30-45 minutes until the crust is golden and the pies register 180 degrees or more on a digital thermometer. Allow them to cool completely, refrigerate them overnight and while cool, pour in the finished stock to fill. Let sit at least 10 minutes before serving, they’re best if they’re allowed to warm to room temperature.

33 thoughts on “English Pork Pie Recipe”

  1. You’re not going to use the pastry warm?? Are you crazy? That’s half the fun, while it’s all warm and easy to use, you can make anything out of it, sculpture included – try making a little pig to sit on top of the pie.

    1. Let’s not go jumping to conclusions! 😉 I’m going to let it warm up. I just want it to hydrate and firm in the fridge first.

      – Joe

    2. I find it much easier to work with it after it’s rested overnight in the fridge, and them tempered somewhat at room temperature for an hour before I use it.

      Especially when using a pie dolly … there’s no way warm pastry will stand up on its own. You’d have to use a pie tin, which, to me, is sacrilege when making Melton Mobray-style pies 😉

  2. In my experience,the liquid from cooking a pork loin all day in a crockpot cools to a aspic-ish consistency. Would this work for the jelly?

    1. Hey GK!

      It’s close but not quite thick enough. The “jelly” needs to be pretty firm so it a.) doesn’t soak into the crust once it’s baked and b.) doesn’t run out when the pie is cut. A little extra gelatin gives it the extra bit of viscosity it needs.

      Thanks for the comment!

      – Joe

  3. For a shaping strategy, you might want to consider forming the pie/s inside a mould and turning it out. Not having a wooden dolly, I found it much easier than forming the pie around the outside. I made mini pies using ramekins, but I imagine a cake ring, or a false bottom/springform pan would probably work quite well for a large one. Whatever you do, make sure you grease everything well.

    Also, while I understand your decision to use powdered gelatin, you’ve missed out on the best part of making pork pies – which is putting the trotters up your sleeves and pretending you have pig’s feet for hands.

    1. Hmm…you’re really given me something to think about with the piggy hands thing, Hellyweg. My daughters would find that hilarious.

      So maybe I just will if I can find them. That’s the main reason I went with the powdered gelatin, because not everyone can find fresh trotters where they live. Aside front he entertainment value it all pretty much works out the same. But I shall try!

      – Joe

    2. Oh, also on the forms. You know me, I’ll want to at least try it the old-fashioned way. The pie dolly method is simply too interesting. Plus I want all that good exterior color from baking a free-form pie. I may end up going the ring route in the end. We’ll have to see!

      – Joe

      1. I am lucky with the trotters, because I have a traditional butcher locally.

        I’m pretty sure I filled the ramekins, then filled the pastry, put the lid on and turned the assembled pie out, so it baked free-form. If you can get dolly’s though, that’s infinitely more fun (or possibly frustrating :|) – I just didn’t want to buy new kitchen equipment for the recipe.

      2. I love using the pie dolly. If the pastry is cool, but malleable, it’s easy to form the case. And as you say, I like the look of the pie not cooked in a tin. Though … I did buy a pork pie tin last time I was in England … more as a curiousity. I found it more trouble to use than doing it with the dolly!

        1. I’m with you. A dolly is a lot of fun…and definitely very different for those of us on this side of The Pond. I need to make more pies so mine gets a bit better seasoned and releases better. Oh dang! 😉

          – Joe

  4. Does size really matter? What is the traditional, preferred, or optimal size for a British raised pie?

    1. Hey Brian!

      Honestly I’m not sure. “Raised” pies can only get so big I think, because there’s a practical limit to how high a wall of unbaked pastry can go before it falls over. I’ve seen pie dollies up to about six inches across, but that’s about it. Much larger than that and you’d need a form of some sort…and there’s really no limit to how big those can be.

      That’s the best answer I can muster! Cheers,

      – Jim

  5. I think you might want to pour the gelatin in when the pie is cold Joe. Whenever I’ve been impatient and done it warm it has all leaked out. If you pour warm, or as cool as is still liquid, gelatin into a cold pie, it sets before it can. Leak, that is.

    1. I read somewhere that doing it warm has the benefit that some of the moisture in the aspic gets sucked into the cooling meat … though I’ve found that it leaks out also. So I do it twice: once when warm, and again when cool 😉

      1. That’s interesting. Never heard that one. I shall try it next time!


        – Joe

    2. I agree, I put the gelatin stock in the pie next morning with a needle and syringe after the pie has been in the fridge overnight. Injecting around the edge of the pie top fills the space between the meat and the crust. One cup of chicken stock , one gelatin powder and a little extra salt…Yum

  6. We sometimes get excessive leaking from either the edges or small cracks that goes black , tastes great but can look a bit off putting , any suggestions other than the obvious to reduce this . Cheers

    1. Hello Tony!

      If the crusts are cracking then they need a touch more moisture. Not too much because you want the crust to hold its shape, but a few drops more will probably solve the problem.

      Cheers and let me know!

      – Joe

  7. Cheers for the reply Joe, and sorry for the late reply. We tried the had raised pies a few times with varying degrees of success , no major problems just small cracks , pies still hold the jelly so not a major issue apart from cosmetics, have tried the water as you’ve suggested and will see how we get on . On wards and upwards

    1. Send me updates when you can, Tony! The pies still taste great even when they leak.

      Well done all around!

      – Joe

  8. Hi Joe, all,going well with the pies we invested in a pro bakers pride oven and the difference in the baking of the pies is amazing , we do hand raised ones and no leaks and no collapses anymore 🙂 however one quick question , if we don’t egg the cases they go very white after a few hours , is this some hi we are doing I.e. Too much flour or do they NEED egging , if so in your opinion , when is the best time before cooking or during. We do it about 20 min from finish, and I’m not keen on the look . Cheers as ever .

  9. Never having had a Melton Mowbray meat pie, I’m not sure what the filling should taste like. I’m intrigued, and I want to try making them. Are you using bacon in the filling simply to add fat, or is the smoky flavor desirable, too? Would some thing like salt pork, or even pork fat for sausage making work as well?

    1. Hey Cynthia!

      Yes you can use any or all of those. Watch the salinity level if you’re using salt pork, but there’s no reason you can’t fiddle with the mixture!

      Cheers and let me know how they go,

      – Joe

  10. Hello, greetings from Leicestershire, England – the home of Pork Pies.

    I’ve just finished making a Derby Pie for a party tomorrow with hot water pasty. It’s very similar to a pork pie but with a filling of chicken, bacon, sausage meat and whole boiled eggs. I didn’t hand raise it but used an 8 inch cake tin, although with smaller pies I hand raise them, but without a dolly.

    I have never considered putting the dough in the fridge, as I was always told it become unplyable. You just needed ‘asbestos’ hands to deal with the heat – sorts the weak from the proper cooks!

    Lastly, Of course you can fill your pies with what ever pleases you, but a ‘real’ pork pie has NO vegetables in it just meat, seasoned liberally with pepper and mace. Further the jelly should be poured in whilst the pie is still warm to ensure it seeps into the meat – leaking means your pie crust was too thin or you have cracks.

    Happy pie making to you all


    P.S. I love the site, but do you have a section on suet pasty?

    1. Hey Claire!

      Thanks for the excellent info! I do have some information on suet on the blog, just do a search. As I recall it was in regard to a traditional pudding, but just now I can’t remember which one!

      Happy new year to you and yours!

      – Joe

  11. Hi Joe, I have seen a few recipes suggest inspecting the pie for cracks and filling them with softened butter prior to pouring the gelatin into the cooled pie so that it prevents the gelatin from escaping. The pie is then put into the fridge to set.

    1. Brilliant technique! I imagine some room temperature lard would be just as effective and even more in keeping with the pork theme!

      Thanks Junky!

      – Joe

  12. Hi Joe, when I make my pork pies to the letter somehow my pastry is too hard/tough wondered what I am doing wrong. Any help appreciated.

    1. Hey Rox!

      Hot water pastry is pretty darn hard. That’s the way of it, otherwise it wouldn’t hold its shape as it baked. However you can try a few things to see if you can get it to where you like it. I’d suggest employing a softer fat like butter as a first step. Maybe use a 50-50 mixture of butter and suet to start and see what you think. Let me know how it goes!

      – Joe

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