5245 love food
Photo: Love Food

Pork pies: What’s that all about?

The United States, while embracing the sweet pie like almost no other country, never quite caught on to the concept of savory pies, whether hot or cold. Chicken pot pie might be about the extent of most Americans’ familiarity with hot meat pies, and as for cold pies, forget it. But believe us, you’re missing out.

Yes, it’s true that the idea of the cold pie dates from a time when rural workers would trot off to the fields (barefoot, in the snow). They’d nestle their lunch in their pockets, necessitating food that would withstand hours of being bumped around (by cows and whatnot). Nonetheless, the food would provide a hearty good meal and keep their energy up for the barefoot, snowy, uphill walk back home. Pork pies were also a delicious snack for huntsmen, riding their steeds across the rough terrain of the pre-industrial British landscape, occasionally slowing only to whip the occasional barefoot farmworker as they passed.

But it doesn’t mean the pie has lost its way in the world. We still sing about Simple Simon meeting a pieman. Londoners still accuse you of telling “porkies” (pork pies, lies, innit). And while we still do the traditional spoon-wielding pie dance, we can still make room for the humble medieval pie in our 21st-century lives.

The original inspiration for this recipe comes from Paul Hollywood, who made the process of raising the crusts look ridiculously easy in Great British Bake Off. We suspected our version would take all the hardy Britishness we could muster, so we played it safe and brought in an extra dollop of the home country in the form of Matt’s Mum, Ingrid, according to Nerda with Knives.

5246 pork pie cropped bbcgoodfood
Photo: BBC Good Food

Yield: serves 8-10

For the Pastry

  • 1 cup lard, cubed and chilled
  • 4 12 cups flour
  • 12 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

For the Broth and Filling

  • 1 lb. pig's feet
  • 8 oz. pork bones
  • 6 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 rib celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 lb. pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1/4" cubes
  • 8 oz. pork belly, cut into 1/4" cubes
  • 8 oz. slab bacon, cut into 1/4" cubes
  • 1 12 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 12 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 12 tsp. ground mace
  • 12 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 12 tsp. ground white pepper

Instructions to Make a British Pork Pie

  1. Make the pastry: Rub lard into flour and salt in a bowl until pea-size crumbles form. Add 1 cup cold water; stir until dough forms. Shape into a disk; wrap and chill.
  2. Make the broth and filling: Bring feet, bones, peppercorns, onion, carrot, celery, parsley, and 3 qts. water to a simmer in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-low heat; cook for 1 hour; strain into a 4-qt. saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook until reduced to 2 cups, 25-30 minutes. In a bowl, toss together shoulder, belly, bacon, salt, nutmeg, mace, and peppers; cool broth and filling separately.
  3. Heat oven to 350°. Roll 23 of the dough into a 14″-thick circle; transfer to an 8″ springform pan and line bottom and sides. Place filling in pan; brush dough edge with egg. Roll remaining dough into a 14″-thick circle; place over filling. Trim and fold under edges; crimp to seal. Cut out a 1 14″-wide hole in center of top pastry. Bake for 30 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 325°, and bake for 90 minutes. Brush pie with egg; bake until golden, 25-30 minutes. Let pie cool, then gradually pour reserved broth into the hole in top of pastry, waiting occasionally for it to distribute through the pie, before adding more. Chill pie to set broth into a jelly before serving, Saveur reports.

Tips to Make a Perfect Classic British Pork Pie

Hot water crust pastry

This easy-to-make pastry used for raised pies is crisp and crumbly. The trick is to shape it while the pastry is still warm and pliable as it loses its smooth texture and appearance when cool.

Go well with

Pickled onions

Marrow chutney

Ploughman’s rolls

How to Cook Perfect Singapore How to Cook Perfect Singapore's Bak Kut Teh - Pork Rib Soup

Singapore's Bak Kut Teh is a version of pork ribs tea with a clear garlicky and peppery broth. Only a few ingredients and very easy ...

How to make Chiko Rolls, Australian How to make Chiko Rolls, Australian's Iconic Food

The Chiko Roll is an Australian savory snack, inspired by the Chinese egg roll and spring rolls. KnowInsider recommends some tips to make perfect The ...

How to decorate your Christmas tree with creative ideas! How to decorate your Christmas tree with creative ideas!

One of the remarkable activities for the family is to decorate Christmas tree during the Christmas season. So, let's read this article to know how ...