Posted 10th January 2010
Home made pork pies, a great way to impress guests coming over for “nibbles” and even nicer as a teatime snack or a spot of comfort food.
I first found the recipe in “Gordon Ramsay’s Great British Pub Food” and was concerned the recipe for such a simple and scrummy snack could be hideously complicated… luckily the ingredients are wonderfully simple and if you don’t already have most of them in your cupboard they’re readily available from your local supermarket. The pastry for Pork Pies is Hot Water Crust Pastry rather than Short Crust but it was still easy to make – and stayed true to my mums “1/2 fat to flour” pastry rulings!
250g Plain Flour
½ tsp fine sea salt
1 large egg
50g unsalted butter
1 Sift Flour and Salt into a bowl and make a well in the middle, crack the egg into the well and cover with some of the flour – don’t beat at this stage.
2 Melt lard and butter in a pan with the water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, add to the flour mixture, stir together using a knife and knead the mixture until smooth.
The important thing to remember when making Hot Water Crust Pastry is that it is much stickier than short crust – and that this is okay!
3 After kneading, the mixture will still be very soft, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes. The pastry will firm up in this time so don’t worry that it doesn’t look or feel right initially.
Whilst the pastry is “firming” you can crack on with the filling. I diverted from Ramsay’s ingredients slightly as his recipe calls for Juniper berries which I didn’t have. Instead, I used cranberries for a festive twist which worked fine.
Pork Filling Ingredients
400g minced pork
250g sausage meat (you can buy this from the supermarket or your local butcher)
1 tbsp chopped parsley & 1 tbsp chopped sage (fresh herbs are best but dried are fine)
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
Pinch of All Spice
Sea Salt and Black Pepper
5 Juniper berries ground with salt (I replaced these with about 150g cranberries, heated with 1 tbsp sugar until soft and bursting)
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp water (beaten together)
1 Mix the filling ingredients together in a large bowl. It’s important the mince and sausage meat are mixed together properly so I found it best to mix with my hands. Once mixed, roll the mixture into small balls – I would say about golf ball size and set aside.
2 Remove the pastry from the fridge, cut one-third to use for the pie lids, wrap this third back up and return to the fridge. With the remaining two thirds roll out the mixture on a well floured surface with a well floured rolling pin – Remember the mixture is stickier than short crust so plenty of flour is essential. Keep rolling until the mixture is the thickness of a £1 coin.
Ramsey’s recipe was for eight larger pork pies however I chose to make smaller ones and these ingredients should stretch to twelve to fourteen miniature pies. Depending on the size and quantity you are looking to make, you can adjust the size of your filling balls and of the bases and lids. The important thing to remember is that the sides of the base ought to be able to be folded up to just over the height of the filling ball when squashed slightly and to keep the thickness of the pastry to no thinner than a £1 coin.
3 Cut the bases out using a saucer / cutter of about 8cm diameter – Its important that the bases are a larger than the lids as these make up the sides as well. It’s worth testing the first couple you cut out with a filling balls you have already made, the sides of the base should come up just above the filling. You may need to adjust the size of you bases depending on this test.
4 Once the bases are cut out, roll out the remaining third of the mixture and cut the lids using a smaller cutter but one large enough to cover the filling.
Now comes the tricky bit – assembling the pies. Unfortunately, this is a bit hit and miss and I found some came out looking incredible whilst others…didn’t!
5 Place the filling ball in the centre of the base and squash slightly so the sides and top are flattened. Place the pie lid on top of the filling ball and fold the base up around the filling. Pinch together the edge of the pie lid and the base. Once finished the lid should be tucked inside the sides of the base.
When I made these first time around my bases were too small and the pie lids too big so the bases were tucked into the lid rather than the other way round. It is fiddly so don’t worry if the same thing happens to you – they will still taste lovely but may not look quite as good.
6 Glaze the pies with egg and water mixture to ensure the edges are sealed together. Once the pies are prepared, chill until firm (20 minutes) egg glaze should still be sticky but starting to harden by this point.
7 Once the pies are firm, pierce each lid with a skewer and bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 190 degrees C / Gas 5. Then, remove from the oven, re-glaze with the egg and water mixture and bake for a further 10 minutes. Once cooked (test that they are warm all the way through with a skewer) place on a wire rack to cool.
Eat and Enjoy!
This recipe does get fiddly at the end and there is a knack to it, my first batch looked extremely… um… homemade?! But the second batch was much better. The thing I like most about it is that its incredibly versatile and you really can make it your own by experimenting with different herbs and different flavours… next on my list of things to try I think is apple….
Certainly for this foodie, good ‘ole Gordon has done it again with an honest and rustic recipe which doesn’t confuddle a flappy cook! Hope you enjoy it – please let us know any feedback or ideas you have on your own twists and how to improve!