A classic English pork pie has a hand-formed hot water crust pastry, a minced or chopped pork filling, seasoned simply with salt and pepper and topped up with meat jelly, added after baking. It is intended to be eaten cold, the jelly acting as a protective layer that keeps out airborn nasties and which also stabilises the pie for carrying about without it breaking.
The most famous English pork pie is the Melton Mowbary pork pie, which became common in Leicestershire England in the 18th century due to local pig farming. The Melton Mowbray pork pie used uncured pork and was hand raised (without a mould). This receipe uses uncured shoulder pork, but does use a muffin tray to give a more event shape to the pies.
These are simple to make and really delicious, especially with a good mustard. They are perfect for picnics as they keep well and travel well.
For the history of the famous (and protected) Melton Mowbary pork pie, visit the website of the (yes, really)
Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association. I am so pleased such an organisation exists :)
Step 1: Making the minced pork filling
The filing for a pork pie is very simple. It is just minced or chopped pork, seasoned with salt and pepper. The type of pork can be chosen to suit your taste. Belly pork is fatty and tasty, but may be too rich for some people. In these pies, a simple shoulder joint was used.
You should prepare the filling before you make the pastry, as the pastry need to be worked whilst warm.
The skin was cut off, but the fat under the skin was left in. If you use only lean meat, it can be a bit dry, although it is not a big problem with this type of pie as jelly is added later anyway. The meat was choped into chunks and these passed into my favourite hand grinder - the Spong 'National', truly a prince of grinders. This model was probably made in the 1950s or so.
If you don't have a mincer, you can just chop the meat by hand with a big chefs knife. Using a food processor is not recommended as it is quite easy to produce a homogenous mush instead of an even chunk size.
Finally a generous amount of ground salt and black pepper was added.