I have been wanting to make these intriguing English pies for as long as I’ve lived on this muddy little island. I suppose I’ve been irrationally put off making them due to an unfounded belief that they’re unreasonably involved and intricate to make. Granted, this recipe is not entirely authentic – I didn’t boil pigs’ trotters to render the gelatine which holds them together, instead I used shop bought leaf gelatine which easily dissolves in warm water.
A few weeks ago they were featured on The Great British Bake Off, and as I sat on the couch watching the programme intently, soaking up every tip and technique I could, I decide I had to make these. This take on the pork pie is adapted from master baker Paul Hollywood’s recipe – and makes six pies.
Hot water crust pastry
Hot water crust pastry can be tricky to work with if you don’t work quickly – because it has lard in it, the minute it cools down the lard hardens and it becomes rigid and hard.
For the filling
When chopping the pork ensure you remove all white sinew strips. Dice into 5mm pieces.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C for fan oven). Use a muffin tin to make the pork pies in – however try to use one which has straight sides instead of tapered ones as this will give the pies a more authentic shape. I used a silicon tin for large muffins – which was the perfect size and shape for these.
Sift the flours into a bowl, dice the butter and rub it into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. In a small saucepan bring the water and salt to the boil, then add the lard and stir until the lard has melted.
Pour the water and lard into the flour and butter mixture and stir to form a dough. Tip the dough onto a floured work surface and work into a smooth ball. It is at this stage that you must work quickly while the dough is still warm.
Roll the pastry out to a thickness of about 3mm. Cut out six 15cm circles and use these to line a holes in the muffin tin. Cut out six 10cm circles for the lids. Using a piping nozzle (or any other pointy kitchen implement) make a hole in the middle of each circle and gently widen it with a circular motion. Set the lids aside.
For the filling, cook the quail eggs in a saucepan of boiling water for 2 minutes. Place immediately in cold water to stop them cooking further and once cool, peel carefully and set aside.
Put the finely chopped shallots, pork, bacon and parsley into a bowl, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix well until combined.
Spoon a little of the mixture into each lined pie case, place a quail’s egg in the centre and spoon more filling around it. The filling should fit snugly in the pastry case and over the top of the egg.
Brush the edge of each pe case with beaten egg, place the lids on top and crimp the edges together to seal completely. Bake for 40 minutes.
Once cooked, set the pies aside to cool for 10 minutes. Dissolve the stock cube in the boiling water. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for a couple of minutes until soft, then squeeze out the excess water and dissolve into the warm chicken stock.
Gently pour the gelatine stock into the hole in the top of each pie until the hollow cavity within the pie is filled. Allow the pies to set in the fridge overnight.