Hand Raised Pork Pies
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 seems to have originated 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 .
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, giving 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.