Instructables

How to make traditional English pork pies

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Picture of How to make traditional English pork pies
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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 :)
 
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Step 1: Making the minced pork filling

Picture of Making the minced pork filling
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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.


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jrfrank10 months ago
pig's trotters-This Michigander had to Google that to find out they're pigs feet! I've only had them pickled.
rosemarybeetle (author)  jrfrank10 months ago
Trotters is what they're called here in UK. I hadn't really thought it was a local name. It's quite a good name, but I can see it is not immediately obvious for anyone not familiar with the term!
They are traditionally used to make jelly from, for meat dishes. Meat jelly is also called aspic. Using trotters is maybe for advanced pie enthusiasts who want a challenge :)
rosemarybeetle (author)  jrfrank10 months ago
Trotters is what they're called here in UK. I hadn't really thought it was a local name. It's quite a good name, but I can see it is not immediately obvious for anyone not familiar with the term!
They are traditionally used to make jelly from, for meat dishes. Meat jelly is also called aspic. Using trotters is maybe for advanced pie enthusiasts who want a challenge :)
LET-CA10 months ago
Wonderful article! I lived in England 40 years ago and loved these. I visited again this past May and made a special point of getting a pork pie. Living in California, I had pretty much given up on finding them here. Your recipe looks easy enough to make it worth the effort to make my own. Thanks for sharing!
rosemarybeetle (author)  LET-CA10 months ago
Thanks - it comes out pretty well and quite easy. Someone suggested using crab apple jelly for this, which sounds a pretty good idea!

Even with a standard jelly, it's great for picniccing
ModlrMike10 months ago
I think your flour/water ratio is way off! I made these today and the dough was terrible. I would use 4 oz water for that much flour. That our double the flour for the existing recipe.
mcheng5 ModlrMike10 months ago
Maybe the problem was that you used 8 oz volume instead of 8oz weight for the flour. This isn't an american recipe, where it is usually volume measurements.
rosemarybeetle (author)  ModlrMike10 months ago
Sorry to hear that.

it is a very wet paste, so does feel weird. I'm not sure what happened there. it can vary a bit depending on flour, but shouldn't be that much. They can cope with longer cooking if needed
rjvkshl10 months ago
Looks good. I'll try it.
rosemarybeetle (author)  rjvkshl10 months ago
go for it. It is good and it's quite easy
piks10 months ago
Have you heard about how pork pies are eaten in Yorkshire? Hot, so the jelly goes liquid! Believe it or not it's true,disgusting.
rosemarybeetle (author)  piks10 months ago
not heard of that, but interesting, thanks
Kevanf110 months ago
I love a 'good' pork pie :) This looks to be a very easy and delicious sounding recipe. I must try it. I did try a recipe years ago but it did not turn out very well at all :( I am very much a fan of the grey, uncured meat filling. I don't like the homegenous mush that some commercial pork pie makers seem to offer :(

Thank you and well done.
rosemarybeetle (author)  Kevanf110 months ago
yes try it. It is quite easy. A bit like bread-making. Simple, but a few steps to do, so allow time. I love pies and these work and can be varied. The jelly is a big deal in keeping them fresh and moist
I had some thoughts after I had sent in my first reply; well, my taste buds had been awakened :) I may try adding a few chunks of bramley apple into the meat. Then I thought, hang on, the jelly is usually a bit bland in a pork pie (commercial ones anyway). How about making the jelly with apple juice? Now my mouth really is watering :)

Thank you and take care.

Kevan

ps. bread making :) I used to do it every single day but the arthritis I now have in my hands and fingers has put paid to that :( You cannot beat home made bread though.
octochan Kevanf110 months ago
Re: bread making - you should try this recipe, then. http://http://www.breadtopia.com/basic-no-knead-method/
Kevanf1 octochan10 months ago
Now that looks interesting, thank you 'octochan' :) It's bookmarked so I shall give it go. The thought of home made bread once again... mmmmmm :)
rosemarybeetle (author)  Kevanf110 months ago
Yum. That all sounds great!
rosemarybeetle (author)  Kevanf110 months ago
Yum. That all sounds great!
rosemarybeetle (author)  Kevanf110 months ago
Yum. That all sounds great!
spark master10 months ago
I like the technique, but it deserves herbs, and a wee dram of booze... or....alas poor piggy, he died in vain ;-(

I will give this a whirl, it definitely needs herbs booze and mayhaps some apple chunks! Then bring on the mustards!!!

thanks for a great instructable
rosemarybeetle (author)  spark master10 months ago
ooh nice. Yes according to Delia Smith it is not unknown to even put anchovy essence in to, but I prefer your boozy idea. Maybe Calvados and apples.
Ok Ok the gloves come off....chuckle , the gloves(rubber) go on.

toss meat in flour or better corn starch, paranoid about corn use tapioca flour, Add some sweet marjoram, or thyme calvados touch of cream (in uk you can use a double cream, it is thicker).Make the jelly with heavy cream and fresh herbs (apple juice concentrate can be added as well)

mmmmmmmmy fat cells are screaming...more more more.....
rosemarybeetle (author)  spark master10 months ago
I like your style. That sounds like an awesome pie
Actually that is Medallions of Pork Tenderloin in Calvados and Cream .


If you have "Texas" sized muff tins
you could lard and flour the wells, take a bit'o'mash (cold) whip in an egg, shredded cheddar, sprinkle of flour, some herb or just onion /garlic powder(better roasted garlic). Pack that in to make walls(the thing must be well lined with fat/or use homemade foil liners that are well larded and floured (for release)fill the cups then pipe on a cap.

But while that may work nicely it won't be portable unless you leave the liners/cupcake papers on them
mcattini10 months ago
Imagine that with mashed potato top!
Drools
rosemarybeetle (author)  mcattini10 months ago
oh yes.I love mash. Some dark gravy too, perhaps?
Of course! The possibilities are endless ill see if I can get this recipe done and post some pictures, I was thinking about perhaps marinating the pork a little more with garlic, lemon juice, and some worcestershire sauce (not much though).
Pork tastes a little different in Countries like New Zealand (where I used to live) and Brazil, pork in Brazil is a little more subtle in taste, in New Zealand I would put lemon zest to get rid of the stench, I think it has to do with them not being neutered or something.
I think it has to do with them not being neutered or something


yep, it is the taste of testosterone laden piggys ! A whole milk soak helps as well!
rosemarybeetle (author)  mcattini10 months ago
Interesting. Yes pork does vary in taste, but never considered that. Diet probably affects it too. I put garlic in the pastry and that is good. Lemon is interesting too, thanks. I can see lots of ideas for the next batch :)
HollyHarken10 months ago
Nicely done with great photos for each step. I'm wondering how the jelly is made. Do you make a pork stock and then add clear Knox gelatin? What are the porportions of stock to gelatin? It isn't clear. I'm not sure if it is something that is only available in the UK. Here in the US we have tablespooned sized packets of Knox gelatin that is designed to be disolved in a liquid.
rosemarybeetle (author)  HollyHarken10 months ago
Thanks.
You're right. I missed that bit off a bit. I made stock, but used stock cubes, and added powdered gelatine, but slightly more than the packet suggests to get a good firm jelly. I used chicken stock here, as I prefer it to pork stock, which is blander I find, but that's just personal taste.
Of course this is slightly cheaty! The traditional way would be to slow boil a pig trotter with salt, pepper and herbs to taste, skim off fat and use the juice. That would be full of jelly and flavour, but trotters are harder to find in a hurry these days, and need more prep
craftyv10 months ago
To eat a pork pie you must have Cross and Blackwells Picallilli It's the only one. Of. course HP Sauce (brown) would do it too. Enjoy this very British dish.
rosemarybeetle (author)  craftyv10 months ago
yum, or just some mustard :)
paul_nicholls10 months ago
That looks delicious! :)
rosemarybeetle (author)  paul_nicholls10 months ago
thanks - it is :)
Alezius10 months ago
I sooo want to try that! Just a little question.. How much water for the crust? I didn't see the qty in the listing...
rosemarybeetle (author)  Alezius10 months ago
Hi. It's very easy to make and delicious.
I will double-check the water quantity later and update it.
thanks for the update.
...and for sharing this recipe, of course!
rosemarybeetle (author)  Alezius10 months ago
no problem. Thank you for spotting that I'd missed it off. It's actually the water and fat that is the main thing. The flour does not need to be measured as much. It can be added until it makes a thick and workable paste
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