A Raised Pork Pie

The pig is a noble beast, and few are nobler than those at Romshed Farm. It’s a lot easier than you think to show them some respect by turning their cheaper cuts into something delicious. You need some time but surprisingly little skill to turn a couple of pig’s cheeks and a trotter into a old-fashioned pork pie that costs very little and tastes miles better than anything you will find in a supermarket. I made this pie using a recipe from Jane Grigson’s Good Things, very slightly adapted. Having never made pastry before, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the traditional hot water crust was nothing like as difficult as I imagined. The only essential pieces of equipment I needed were an eight- inch cake tin with a removable bottom,and a large stockpot or saucepan for making the jelly.

Jelly

2 lb pork bones, including a pig’s trotter. Large carrot, sliced. Medium-sized onion stuck with two cloves. Bouquet garni. 12 Peppercorns.

A single Romshed trotter with shinbone will be ideal. Some of the meat can be removed from the shin and added to the filling.

Jane Grigson advises you to deal with the jelly the night before you make the pie. Put the bones and vegetables into a large pan, cover with water to within an inch of the top and bring to the boil. Fix on the lid and leave to bubble gently for 3-5 hours. Be sure to add no salt. Strain off the liquid into a clean pan and boil it down hard to about a pint. Season with salt, pepper and a little lemon juice, and put it into a cool place to set.

You may find you only need to boil down half the stock. The rest can be turned into soup. The appearance of the jelly will improve if you strain it through a fine sieve or a paper coffee filter. If your jelly will not stay solid at room temperature, boil it for longer.

Filling

2 lb boned shoulder or neck of pork, or pig’s cheeks, with one part fat to two parts lean, ½ lb very thinly cut green, bacon rashers, 1 teaspoon sage or other fresh herbs, ½ teaspoon each nutmeg, cinnamon, ground cloves, allspice
Salt, freshly ground black pepper.

Two large Romshed pig’s cheeks should be enough. Jane Grigson makes the obvious point that the better quality pork you use, the better the pie will be. You can substitute gammon or ham for the bacon. My only change was to reduce the amounts of spices by half.

Chop the pork and bacon as finely as you can, removing skin and gristle. Add the seasonings and mix well together. Fry a small piece of this mixture to test the flavour, remembering that cold dishes always require stronger seasoning.

Hot Water Pastry Crust

1 lb plain flour, 7 oz water, 6 oz lard, ½ teaspoon salt, Beaten egg.

Following Nigel Slater, I substituted 6 oz of goose fat for the lard. Jane Grigson gives the option of adding a tablespoon of icing sugar, but I didn’t do this.

Sift the flour, salt (and sugar) into a bowl and make a well in the middle. Bring the water and the lard to the boil in a saucepan and pour into the well immediately, mixing with a wooden spoon until the dough forms a smooth ball. Cover and leave to cool a little. When it is still warm, remove about one quarter of the dough to make the pie lid. Roll out the dough on a board, so that it is an even thickness. Shape it into a circle and a couple of rectangles to line the base and the inside walls of the cake tin. Try to ensure there are no cracks, otherwise the juices will leak out. The fewer joins, the better. Pack the filling inside the pie, mounding it up nicely in the centre to support the lid. Brush the rim with beaten egg and lay on the lid. Any trimmings can be used for artistic decoration. Leave a hole in the centre about the diameter of a pencil, which should stay open during cooking. Brush the top of the pie and the decorations with beaten egg. Bake for 30 minutes on a metal baking sheet at Mark 6 (400F), then 1 ½-2 hours at Mark 3 (325F). Let the pie cool a little, then carefully remove it from the cake tin, brush the sides with beaten egg and replace it on the baking tray in the oven for about 20 minutes to turn golden brown. To prevent the top of the pie from turning too dark, you can cover it with brown baking paper. Take it out of the oven and leave to cool a little. Warm the jelly to a liquid, and pour it gently through the hole. The jelly should spread all around the pie. Leave to cool and refrigerate.

If the jelly starts to leak out through the crust, you can plug the leak with a little flour and water paste, which can be scraped off later with a knife.

Skip to toolbar