Pork pies are a fabulous yet traditional British lunch or picnic snack. Renowned for their great taste and non-pretentious nature, they are a meal fit for a king or a pauper. I made these using a hot water crust pastry which is actually much simpler than it sounds, and really cuts down on the amount of butter you need, though it does require some lard in its stead. Lard is terribly easy to make, it’s just rendered pork fat. If you have a friendly local butcher he will probably give you some for free. Or you can save your rendered fat from whenever you cook bacon or pulled pork like I do. The filling is traditionally made with bacon, pork shoulder, and pork belly, but I went for a much simpler pork mince filling. The real ones also have a layer of gelatin around the inside of the pastry, but I again skipped this step, mostly because you have to wait about 12 hours for it to set and patience has never been my virtue. These beauties are just as good hot or cold and especially nice with a bit of brown sauce or piccalilli if you have it.
500g of plain flour
120g of butter (1 stick)
70g of lard
200mls of water
1 teaspoon of salt
1 egg(beaten) for brushing
500g of pork mince (Costco)
1/2 an onion (finely chopped)
4-5 cloves of garlic (minced)
2-3 green chillis (finely chopped)
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of black pepper
1 tablespoon of chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon of nutmeg
A large handful of breadcrumbs
1. First mix all of the ingredients for the filling in a large bowl. I find it easiest to just mix it all together by hand to ensure an even consistency. Keep going until it resembles a herby sausage mixture.
2. The next step is to make the pastry. First measure out your flour into a large mixing bowl and then add the salt. Next put your butter, lard, and water in a saucepan and gradually bring to the boil. Once it comes to the boil and all of the fat has been dissolved, add this liquid mixture to the flour and salt. Stir the mixture in with a wooden spoon and it will start to come together into a rough dough. At this stage you can knead it briefly with your hands to ensure that all of the ingredients get combined. Once you have a ball of dough, leave it aside for a few minutes to let it cool off a little. Not too much though, this dough can be a little hard to work with if it gets too cold.
3. Next you have to prep your cookware. Grease the inside of 2 muffin tins, as the pastry will make around 12, 13 if you are lucky. Preheat your oven to 180 Celsius. You will also need to prepare something to cut the pastry with, I used a sour cream tub for the bases and a beer glass for the tops this time. The top should be smaller than the base.
4. Split off about 1/4 of the pastry, this will be for the tops of your pies. Roll out the remaining pastry on a lightly floured surface until it is about 3-4mm thick. Cut out circles of pastry using your implement of choice and push the circles into your greased muffin tins. Ideally you will have a tiny bit of overhang on the top of the cups(this really helps when adding the tops!).
5. Fill each pastry basket liberally with your sausage meat filling. You don’t need to absolutely stuff it in, but also remember that this is a meat pie, so you want it to be meaty!
6. At last it’s time to top off your pies, so roll out the bit of pastry you put aside earlier to the same thickness as you did before, and cut into circles. Brush the edges of your pie with beaten egg to help the top stick and put it on. Crimp the edges together as best you can by using a pinching motion. Finally cut a small steam hole in the centre of each pie.
7. Brush the top of each pie with some more beaten egg, and then bake in the oven for 30 mins. Put a baking tray in the bottom of the oven at this stage to warm up.
8. After the 30 mins are done, take the pies out of the oven, as well as that warmed baking tray. You now have to transfer the pies from the muffin tins to the baking tray. Do this carefully as the pastry will not be 100% cooked and you can lose a bit due to sticking. Brush the sides and tops with more of the egg and put them back in the oven to ensure you don’t get a soggy bottom. Turn up the temperature to 200 Celsius and bake for another 25-30 mins until the tops and sides are golden brown. Then enjoy, and share with your friends as many as you can bear to part with, which will probably be about two!