Hand Raised Pork Pies

How to make a Pork Pie

Nothing beats a slice of home made Pork pie. They can be made as large pies weighing upwards of 2lb (1kilo) or as a small buffet two bite size. The principal is the same , the ratio of filling to pastry being of equal weight before baking. They are traditionally made using a distinctive form of pastry  that is usually Boiled or Hot Crust.
There are many recipes for the Pie pastry but the choice of which type of Pastry to make will depend mainly on the method of making the pie.

The origin of the Pork Pie in the UK, as we know it today,  dates back to 1700s and was very popular  in Melton Mowbray, an area of Leicestershire. This area was very suited to Dairy Farming, part of which was a flourishing cheese making industry. A bye product of cheese making is Whey , this was a cheap and ideal food source for pig rearing and subsequently produced a lot of cheap pork meat , this was very beneficial to the population of the area especially the farm labourer and the poor. The pie would have been baked in an earthenware crock pot with a hard crust of pastry as a lid, the lid was to protect the filling during baking in the open fire, fagot ovens  and was most probably not eaten (fed back to the pigs no doubt). This was developed by the workers who needed to take their lunches out into the field, so a crock pot was not a good idea, so, similar to the Devon Oggie and the Cornish pastie, a crust was developed that could encase all the filling but that would not be eaten. The jelly inside acted as a "shock absorber" so that the pie did not disintegrate when being carried in saddlebags.
The Melton Mowbray story is, that after the Enclosure act, the number of foxes in the area increased, this led to an increase in Fox Hunting by the rich who in turn hired the local farm workers as grooms .
The hunters noticed that their hired helpers were eating these "pies" , tried them theirselves, liked the idea, then decided to upgrade the pastry  so that it could be eaten as well (God forbid, that they should be eating the same type of food as the poor)
 The Melton Mowbray Pie was granted PGI Status in 2009 but that does not mean you can not make a Melton Mowbray style pie for yourself.
The most notable difference between a Melton Mowbray and a common pork pie is the colour of the filling. Traditionally  M.B pie would be small chunks of uncured pork, as opposed to minced  cured pork,  which gives a grey  colour when baked, the non M.B pies will have a pink appearance, in other words the M.B pie contains no additives or preservatives like the now common factory produced pork pie.
As stated, there are many differing recipes available for this product  but the basic principle is the same for most of them.
Given below are some very simple basic recipes and methods, a great way to learn the skill of making hand raised pies. This amount of pastry will be sufficient for 2 x 455g (1lb)  or 1 x  900g (2lb) pies.

Hot Savoury Paste.

360g (12oz)    Strong Flour.
180g (6oz)       Lard.
 5g (half tsp)    Salt.

 90g (3oz)      Boiling Water.

Method 1.
(1) Sieve the flour and salt together, rub in the lard.
(2) Add the boiling water.
(3) Using a wooden spoon or a spatula, partially mix together until cool enough to handle.
(4) Using your hands, mix to a clear paste.
(5) Must be cold before using.

Method 2.
(1) Sieve the flour and salt together and rub in 1/3rd (60g/2oz) of the Lard.
(2) Place remaining lard (120g/4oz) in a pan with the water and bring to boil.
(3) Add the hot melted fat and water to the flour and partially mix using spoon or spatula.
(4) When cool enough to handle finish mixing using the hands.
(5) Must be cold before using. For best results leave for at least 8 hrs .

Boiled Savoury Paste.

Using the same recipe as above for Hot Savoury Paste:
(1) Using a good size pan, Boil the water, Lard and Salt together.
(2) Add the flour to the boiling mixture.
(3) Mix to a clear smooth paste.
(4) Use whilst still hot/warm
Tip: you can keep paste warm by placing in a bowl/container over warm water , Bain-marie

Hand Raised Pork Pies
Making the Pie.

The method stated below is a 3 day process. This will give the best results but it can also be made in one day as long as sufficient time is given for cooling the pastry (if required) and for resting between each stage. If making in one day is your choice I would recommend using the Boiled Savoury Paste as this does not require cooling of the pastry.

Day 1....Make the pastry.Scale into appropriate weights.
Day 2... Mould and form the pie, prep the filling ,fill and lid.
Day3....  Bake and jelly the pie.

The pastry recipe given above is sufficient to produce 2 x 480g (1lb) pies.
I recommend that you use Method 2  of Hot Savoury Paste .
Immediately after mixing , whilst still warm , scale/weigh 2 x 250g (8oz) 
and 2 x 60g  (2oz). You may have a small amount left over, do not throw away but keep alongside the weighed paste, you may need it later for repairs.
Lightly shape these 4 pieces into round balls and set aside, covered , in cold area /fridge, ideally for at least  8-12 hrs.
If you chose to use the Boiled Savoury paste you will need to proceed to the moulding stage immediately , see below

Click thumb nails to enlarge:
Pre-pairing the Meat Filling and Seasoning.

 Each producer has there own favoured cut of pork, shoulder of pork is usually the chosen cut as this is full of flavour, sometimes a portion of Belly pork is mixed in . You can of course just go to the Super market and buy ready minced pork but the flavour may be not as good. It is important to have a % of fat, this adds to the flavour and the moisture content of the pie. The ideal ratio is 75% lean to 25% fat. As stated, the traditional Mowbray pie uses finely diced meat, I personally use  coarse minced, shoulder of pork.The shoulder will generally contain the sufficient amount of fat.
You will require  500g ( 1lb 2oz) of prepared meat. It is important to allow for production loss.

Meat Filling.
500g (1lb 2oz) Pork shoulder, minced or small diced.
60g (2oz) bread crumbs.
112ml (4oz water)
16g (1/2 oz) seasoning.

Add together and mix 

Note: Melton Mowbray type does not usually contain bread crumbs. If you chose not to use the crumbs you will need to reduce the water by at least 50%. The bread crumb helps to retain the fat and liquid during the baking process.

The seasoning comprises of salt .pepper .and mace. This of course can be made to personal taste but the basic rule of thumb is that you require 15g per 480g (1/2 oz per 1lb ) of meat.
For consistency and accuracy it is recommended to make a mix of seasoning that can be kept in a suitable container and used accordingly. Below is a tried and tested  recipe that I have used for many years, as I say this can be altered to your own personal taste but I strongly recommend that you use this as a starting point.

100g (31/2oz) Salt.
18g (5/8 oz) Pepper (white)
2g Ground Mace.

Weigh accurately as this is a very small amount.
Simply sieve together 3 times. The easiest and most practical way is to have 2 pieces of parchment/greaseproof.
and sieve from 1 piece to the other and when mixed can be easily poured into a suitable storage container. a Jar with a lid is good and make sure you label, indicating contents and recipe used, for future reference.

Shaping the pie.

By Hand.
Remove the weighed pastry from the fridge at least 1 hour before using. Whilst the paste needs to be cold, if it is too cold it will not be able to be shaped and rolled without cracking. Usually the warmth of your hands will be sufficient enough to warm the paste.
(1) Taking one of the 8oz pieces,and using both hands shape the ball into a "bowler hat" (see thumbnails).
(2) Turn this over and using the thumbs, press into the centre, starting to form the shape.
(3) Continue to work the sides of the case upwards, at the same time maintaining the evenness of the crust thickness overall, to a depth of 8cm (3in) approx. Complete the second unit.
(4) Next take the two small pieces of paste, to form the lids and roll out to just slightly a bigger circumference than the moulded paste shell.
(5) Divide the filling meat into two, they should weigh aprox 300-340g (11-12oz) each and drop into each case. The idea is to exclude as much air so as to avoid air pockets so is best done in one piece as opposed to filling bit by bit.
(6) Water wash the inside of the top of the case thoroughly. Water wash one side of the lid and place the lid,wash side down, on top of the filling.
(7) Gently press down in the centre of the lid and make sure the edges of the top drop down on the inside of the base, do not stretch the lid over (like a drum skin) this helps to maintain the final shape.
(8) You now need to crimp the top edge of the pie, this gives a decorative finish but more importantly ensure a good seal between the lid and the base.
(9) If you intend to bake the same day, at this point, you need to egg-wash  and using a small  round cutter cut a hole in  the lid and allow the pie to stand for at least 40 mins. Otherwise lightly cover with cling film or a loose freezer bag and fridge over night.
(10) If standing overnight, remove from fridge next day, egg-wash, cut hole in lid and allow to stand 20 mins before placing in oven.

Shaping Using a Pie Block/mould.
An alternative way to shape the pie is to use a Pie Block, sometimes called a dolly. This is usually made of wood and varies in size according to which size of pie that is to be made. Whilst this may be practical on a commercial system the home baker  can utilise any appropriate shaped object such as glass jars, upturned saucepans or tins, its surprising what there is around the home that can be pressed into use.
(1) The measured amount of pastry is formed into a disk a little larger than the base of the block.
(2) The block, well floured/dusted is then placed onto the paste and pressed into the dough. This will force some of the pastry up the sides.
(3) The block is inverted and the pastry is carefully moulded evenly onto the block, the idea is to finish with an even thickness at the required height.If the pastry is a bit  soft the whole thing can be left in a fridge to set however the ideal situation is to remove the block right away.( click thumbnails below.)
(4) The pie is now ready to fill as per instructions above.....

Given below is a general guide to time and temperature according to size.
Consideration has to be taken with regard to your oven.
This is a guide and you may well need to adjust.
It is important to ensure the meat is baked but not dried out.
At same time you do not want to over bake the pastry.
By reducing the temp and covering with baking parchment
in the later stages of baking, on the larger pies, this can be achieved.

8oz(250g) Pie.  Filling 3oz(90g)  Pastry 4oz(125g)
 410F/210C . 200C fan. G6-7.  50mins

1lb(500g) Pie.   Filling 8oz (250g) Pastry 8oz (250g)
400F/204C. 194C fan. G6. 60mins.

2lb(1Kg) Pie. Filling 16oz(500g)  Pastry 14oz (400g)
400F/204C.  194C Fan. G6.  100mins.

3lb(1.5Kg) Pie. Filling 1.5lb(750g) Pastry1lb 4oz(600g)
400F/204C.  190C Fan. G6 .150 mins ± 

Jellying the Pies.

The traditional way to make the jelly is to make a stock from
 Pigs Trotters, however a very acceptable alternative is to use 
Gelatine and pork stock cubes.
I personally use the leaf gelatine and Knorr Pork stock cubes.
To make 1pint (570ml)
Soak 4 leaves of gelatine in a bowl of  cold water (aprox 5mins) to soften.
Cut/crumble half a stock cube into a Pint of boiling water and stir to dissolve.
Add the soften gelatine( squeezing out the excess water) and stir well.
It is now ready to use.

On removal from the oven ,allow the pie to stand for 30 mins.
Check that the hole on the lid is clear and carefully add the liquid jelly.
This can be done with a funnel but personally I prefer to gently pour in 
with a small jug. Your aim is to get the jelly into the pie and not on or over the lid.
Time and care taken now will be well worth the effort, 
the end product could be easily spoiled at this stage.
The object is to get as much jelly in as possible
 to fill any gaps/voids internally. Also to allow the meat filling
to absorb as much as possible to replace the moisture lost in baking.
Set the pies in a fridge or cold area for at least another 30 mins
then top up with more jelly if you can, as some will have soaked into the meat.
If when pouring the jelly at anytime, you notice you have a leak  from the pie
Stop pouring, fill the hole with butter or lard,allow to set before continuing.
When filled leave the pies in a fridge overnight, do not remove the added fat until 
jelly has set and you can the remove it quite easily.

Note: Gelatine can easily be re-melted by standing the 
container in warm water and stirring with a fork until liquid.