Monday, 13 September 2010

Pork Pie Heaven.

It worked! Well mostly, the decorative finish maybe needs some refining but it tastes great, came out in one perfect piece and has transported my tastebuds back to England.

A bit of a performance though.....

Day One.
First was the making of the aspic to top the pie off with when it had been baked. This is where the pig's trotters came into the equation. Boiled for HOURS in a pan with celery, carrot, onion, peppercorns, bay leaves. Strained and left to cool.

Day Two.
Started with finely chopping 2.5 kg pork, 250g bacon into tiny pieces. Of course I had to do it by hand, would have beeen easy-peezy in a processor. But hey I'm out cruising...

Swiftly followed by making the hot water crust pastry. The recipe I used calls for lard but you can't get that here, or at least I don't know what to ask for so I took a chance and used Crisco, it's a vegetable shortening. I googled to see if it would be ok but found no definitive answer. What the heck I used it anyway and it was perfect!

Few dicey moments as the pastry has to be worked when it's warm and moulded into shape. Filling in, top on, cursory decorations(I'll try harder next time) and into the oven.
Fortunately it was a lot cooler yesterday as we endured 30 minutes at Gas 4, followed by 90 minutes at Gas 3. Quick paint job with beaten egg and back for another 30 minutes.

Break for wine, for me not the pie!

Out she came golden and perfect, I couldn't believe it.
Final stage was filling the voids in the pie with the aspic. That was warmed till liquid again and at this point I lost my nerve a bit. With such high temperatures here I decided some help was needed and I added an envelope of powdered gelatine in to ensure a good set.
Putting a small funnel in the center of the pie I started to dribble in the golden liquid, man did that smell good!
But is was SO slow! I thought I was going to have a lot left, however I persisted until finally, 2 hoiurs later, I had the thing full.
Then let it all cool down until putting in the refrigerator overnight....

Day Three.

The unveiling... Heart in mouth I sprung the clasp on the tin and out she slid. Perfect, golden, complete!
The knife slid through the resistant but not tough pastry case slicing the succulent filling and seperating the well set aspic.

Oh My God! It tastes wonderful. It was a lot of work, there is a lot of it but it was certainly worth it.

Must go a slice awaits me!

This is the recipe I used from Nigel Slater.

Pork pie

1kg boned pork shoulder
250g pork belly
250g streaky bacon
2 bushy sprigs of thyme
2 sage leaves
½ tsp ground mace
½ tsp ground white pepper
2 good pinches ground nutmeg

For the pastry:

200g lard
220g water
575g flour
1 beaten egg
1 x 20cm cake tin

For the stock:

bones from the pork (left)
2 pig's trotters
1 onion
1 small carrot
1 small bunch of parsley stalks
1 rib of celery
6 black peppercorns


Make the filling
You need to chop the pork into small cubes, about 5mm in size. You could mince it, but the texture will be much more interesting if you can bear to cut it by hand. Or you could chop half, then whizz the other briefly in the food processor.
Finely chop the bacon.
Remove the thyme leaves from their stems, add the sage leaves and chop both finely. Mix the herbs into the chopped meats together with the mace, white pepper, nutmeg and 1 tsp each of salt and coarsely ground black pepper.

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.
Set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4. Lightly grease and flour your mould or cake tin (with removable bottom). Pull off a quarter of the pastry and roll it into a lid that will fit the top of the cake tin. Roll the remaining pastry to fit the base of the tin. Lay it in the bottom, then firmly push the dough up the sides with your hands. It should spread quite easily. If it slides down, leave it to cool a bit more. Make certain there are no holes or tears. This is crucial, as the jelly will leak out. Spoon the pork filling into the lined cake tin and press it down. It should come almost to the top of the pastry.
Brush the edges of the pastry above the meat with beaten egg. 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.

Make the stock

Put the bones into 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 and leave the liquid to cook for an hour, watching the water level carefully and topping up where necessary.
Remove from the heat, decant the liquid into a bowl and leave to cool. Refrigerate overnight. If it has set very firmly, simply remove the fat from the top of the stock, transfer to a saucepan and bring to the boil. If it is still on the runny side, then remove the fat as before, pour into a saucepan and boil hard until it is reduced to about 400ml. Season carefully with salt.
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. A funnel is invaluable here. Leave the pie to cool, then refrigerate overnight.

1 comment:

SV Dragonheart said...

As always you take my breath away with you determination to make it right.
I am have never had this, but if you made it I would be happy to try it.

Glass lifted for a job well done!