Sunday, April 28, 2013

Pork Pie

I've heard of a pork-pie hat, but I never connected it to an actual pork pie.  No surprise, it looks like the hat.

The extremely traditional recipe I found on the British site recipewise is labor intensive, takes three days, and uses way more pieces of the pig than I had in mind.  What I am presenting here is an Americanized, lighter, dumbed-down version that you can make in one day and serve the next.  Well, not totally dumbed-down, but you could substitute a store-bought double crust.  I don't really recommend that option, and it's ok if your pastry crust comes out hard, awkward, and barely edible.  This is a free-standing pie, and you don't want it collapsing.

A pork pie is basically pork encased in pastry.  It's almost a sausage in pot-pie shape.  You need some serious vegetables on the side to make this a meal.  Just a heads-up.

3-1/2 C flour
3/4 C + 2 Tb shortening
1/2 C water
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten, for glaze

1-1/3 lb pork shoulder, fat trimmed to 1/4"
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
2 Tb water
1 14oz can chicken stock
*1 bay leaf
sprig of thyme (or 1/2 tsp *dried thyme)
several sage leaves (or 1/2 tsp *dried sage)
1 envelope gelatin

1.  In a medium bowl, stir together salt and flour.  In a small saucepan, bring shortening and water to a boil until all of the shortening is melted.  Pour into flour and mix with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms.  (It smells like churro dough, in case you ever wondered what churro dough smells like.)  Add water a tablespoon at a time, if necessary.  Let sit until room temperature, about an hour, kneading occasionally to check for firmness.  Meanwhile, chop the pork into 1/2" cubes.  Back to that in a minute.

2.  When dough is firm enough to hold a shape, break off about 1/3 to use later.  On a rimmed, parchment-lined baking sheet, mold dough into a flat-bottomed bowl shape approximately 7" in diameter and 3" high.  It helps if you were any good in pottery class as a child.  I wasn't.  That's fine; it's supposed to look "rustic".  This is going to take you at least 5 minutes, so don't worry if you have to start over.  If it's lopsided, just break off some from another area and patch the low side.

3.  Preheat oven to 400º.  Get out your bowl of chopped pork.  Toss with salt, pepper, and water to mix.

4.  Place meat in crust.  It's going to help your bowl to hold its shape, which will be a huge relief.  Shape remaining third of dough into a lid and place on top.  Crimp up rim to seal.  Cut a vent in the middle large enough for a funnel, because you're going to use one later.  Brush top and sides with egg wash.  Store the rest of the wash in the fridge for another brushing later.

5.  Bake at 400º for 10 minutes.  Lower heat to 325º and bake another two hours, turning after an hour.  That's when you'll find out if you sprang a leak anywhere.  Oh well, too late to fix it.  Remove from oven briefly, brush again with the egg wash, and bake 10 more minutes to set the glaze.  Allow to cool to room temperature while you're making the stock filling.

6.  Soften gelatin in 1/4 C cold water.  In a saucepan, heat chicken stock, bay leaf, thyme, and sage.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Strain out herbs and stir in softened gelatin until dissolved.  Pour into pie using a funnel until filled, just a tablespoon or so at a time.  You won't use more than half a cup of the stock at this time, but refrigerate the rest for later.  What you're doing is filling all the tiny nooks and crannies inside the crust with a jellied aspic.  Chill the pie for at least 2 hours, then re-warm the stock and see how much more you can fit in the pie.  Again, you won't use all of it, but you can discard the rest now if you don't have another use for it.  Chill pie overnight.

7.  Being a British thing, this meat pie is served cold.  Slice it like any pie, and serve with an interesting mustard available as a condiment.

Serves 5 to 6

Difficulty rating :-0

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