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Sadly, petrol stations and corner shops haven’t done this humble pie’s reputation any good at all. Real pork pies are wonderful things and well worth the effort that goes into making them. A few prunes are a good pork pie additional – they complement the meat beautifully, giving it a subtle sweetness.

Method

Start by making the stock, which will become the jelly that sits around the filling of your pork pie. Place a medium saucepan over a medium-low heat and add a dash of oil. When it is hot, add the trotters and cook gently for a few minutes. Now add

the vegetables, bay leaves, peppercorns, coriander seeds and salt. Cook, stirring regularly, for 10 minutes.

Add the water and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 2 hours, topping up with fresh water as required.

Pass the stock through a fine sieve into a bowl, allow to cool and then chill in the fridge. You can save the skin and meat from the trotters for a crispy fried trotter salad, which is lovely with a poached egg.

To make the pie filling, mix the fresh pork with the bacon. Combine half this mixture with the prunes, then put it through a mincer on the fine plate (3–4mm). Chop the remaining meat by hand into 3–4mm dice. The best way to do this is on a big board with a large, sharp chef’s knife. Alternatively, you can put all the meat through the mincer, but the filling won’t have the traditional chunky texture.

Re-combine all the chopped and minced meat in a bowl. Add the chopped thyme and breadcrumbs, and season well with the white and black pepper, mace and salt. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas mark 4.

To make the pastry, put the lard and water into a pan and warm them over a low heat until the fat has melted and the mixture is warm – it doesn’t have to boil. Combine the flour with the salt in a large mixing bowl. Lightly beat the egg in

another bowl. Pour the lard and water mixture into the flour. Add the beaten egg and bring together to form a dough. Gather the dough up and place on a work surface. Fold the pastry 4 or 5 times until smooth.

Divide the pastry in two, one for each pie. Take the first half and cut off a quarter; set this aside for the pie lid. Use the larger piece for the base and sides: form it into a round and then roll it out into a circle, roughly 15cm in diameter. Lay the pastry in one of the 10cm pie tins, carefully bringing it up the sides and smoothing out any pleats as you go. Leave a very slight overhang of pastry all round. Make sure there are no holes in the pastry or the jelly may leak out. Fill the lined tin with enough pork filling to come up to the top of the pastry.

Beat the egg for the glaze and brush the edges of the pastry with a little of it. Roll out the smaller portion of pastry for the lid. Carefully ease the lid into place and crimp the edges together in a tight, neat fashion. You may have to trim any

overhanging edges at this point. Use the tip of a knife to make a small hole in the middle of the lid. Repeat this process for the second pie.

Bake the pies for 20 minutes, then lower the oven setting to 160°C/Gas mark 3. Brush the pies all over with beaten egg and return them to the oven for a further 1 hour, or until cooked through. Remove from the oven.

Warm the jellied stock until just liquid. Position a small funnel in the hole in the top of one pie and carefully pour in enough stock to come to the top. Repeat with the second pie. Allow to cool completely, then refrigerate overnight before eating.

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Ingredients

Makes 2 pies; each serves 6

For the stock

  • A little oil
  • 2 pig’s trotters, ideally cut into pieces with a saw (or left whole)
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 celery sticks, sliced
  • 4 bay leaves, torn
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • A good pinch of salt
  • 1 litre water

For the filling

  • 1kg fatty pork shoulder or pork belly, cubed
  • 500g homemade bacon, cubed, or good-quality lardons, or streaky bacon, chopped
  • 6–8 pitted prunes, chopped
  • A small bunch of thyme, leaves only, chopped
  • 50g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • A good pinch of ground mace
  • Salt

For the hot water crust pastry

  • 200g pork lard
  • 175ml water
  • 500g plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 egg, plus an extra egg for glazing

Equipment

  • 2 x 10cm pork pie dishes

This recipe is taken from...

River Cottage Pigs & Pork handbook

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