My lovely boyfriend Nick puts up with a lot to indulge my interest (passion/obssesion) with cooking ; the overstuffed freezer, cupboards and even garage ( currently home to sacks of chillis) , questioning about whether something tastes OK before it has even made it into his mouth , and admittedly the odd sulk because a dish has not turned out just so ,even if it tastes fine.
In fact I watched Julie and Julia alone with recognition and growing shame especially the point where she ends up lying in a pile of grease on the floor crying and screaming abuse at her husband. I replicated this scene recently when a batch of mayonnaise refused to thicken. I was hysterical and inconsolable , over mayonnaise, I’m 32 for heavens sake.
Nick is the polar opposite calm, patient, practical and easygoing. Only very occasionally mentioning that things might be getting a little out of hand as a packet of unsealed lentils falls on his head and suggesting he might write a more honest account “Living with a Girl Interrupted Eating”.
So I detected a little caution in his “Great?!”, when I said I was going to make a Pork Pie for his birthday instead of cake . Of course he loves Pork Pie but here in the East Midlands we are surrounded by award winning pies so there is lot to live up to in making your own.
I admit I was a little worried too, I suspected pork pies were difficult to make special pastry and a jelly stock. In fact although need a long day to make this pie,it is really just a series of short easy interventions, making the stock , mixing the pastry and filling the pie. All of which are easier I think than poaching a decent egg – hysterical fit number 2 this year. The time taken is due only to the jelly stock needing time to cool to check it has a good set, and the pie will needing to cool overnight before eating.
I was so happy taking the golden pie out of the oven yesterday- it looked just like pies in picture books. Once sliced by the birthday boy I was pleased with the colour and the texture of the filling chopped belly pork gammon and was perfect, with wavy hot crust pastry , it even has plenty of jelly down the sides – just like a real pie. I cannot wait to make more pies, be warned family it’s pie for Christmas presents
So all Birthday smiles and no sulking. Happy Birthday Nick – Love you.
For the stock:
1 ham hock
1 small carrot
1 small bunch of parsley stalks
1 rib of celery
6 black peppercorns
For the pastry:
1 beaten egg
1kg boned pork shoulder
250g pork belly
250g of cooked ham hock ( from making stock below)
2 sprigs of thyme
2 sage leaves
½ tsp ground mace
½ tsp ground white pepper
2 good pinches ground nutmeg
Jelly stock made the day before the pie
- Put the ham hock a deep saucepan with the onion, carrot, parsley stalks and the celery rib.
- Cover with water and bring to the boil. Lower the heat to a simmer , cover the pot and cook for 2 hours.
- Remove from the heat, decant the liquid and reduce to 400ml
- Set aside 250g of the cooked hock for the pie
- Refrigerate the overnight then remove the fat from the top of the stock, transfer to a saucepan and bring to the boil.
Making the stock most recipes suggest using pigs trotters , my butcher didn’t have any but a ham hock makes a good alternative and set to a firm jelly.
Make the pastry
- Put the lard and water into a small saucepan and bring to the boil.
- Sift the flour with a good pinch of salt into a large bowl.
- Pour the hot lard and water into the flour, mix with a wooden spoon, then leave until cool enough to handle. The pastry must be warm when you start to work it.
Making the pastry was easier than normal pastry , I love the smell of the warm lard it smells like Sunday Roast.
Make the filling
- Chop the pork, belly pork and gammon into small cubes, about 5mm in size.
- Mix the herbs into the chopped meats together with the mace, white pepper, nutmeg
Fill the pie
- Set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4.
- Lightly grease a 30cm round cake tin (with removable bottom).
- Pull off a quarter of the pastry this will form the lid that will fit the top of the cake tin.
- Put the rest of the pastry into the bottom of the tin , push the dough up the sides
- Spoon the pork filling into the lined cake tin and press it down.
- Lower the lid into place and press tightly to seal with the edges.
- Poke a small hole in the lid to let out the steam and put the tin on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, then lower the heat to 160C/gas mark 3 and bake for 90 minutes until the pastry is pale gold.
- Brush with the beaten egg and return to the oven for 30 minutes.
Adding the jelly stock
- When the pie is ready, pour the stock into a jug and then pour it carefully through the hole in the top of the pastry
- Leave the pie to cool, then refrigerate overnight.