Friday, January 9, 2015

Melton Mowbray Pork Pie: The Gold Standard

The gold standard of pork pies, the Melton Mowbray is a distinct pork pie that is recognizably different from other pork pies, both in physical characteristics and in reputation, and consists of roughly chopped pork and pork jelly sealed in a hot water crust pastry, moulded by hand over a wooden pie mould called a 'dolly' to make a free-standing pastry case. Named after Melton Mowbray, a town in Leicestershire, the eponymous pie became popular among fox hunters in the area during the late 18th-century, and has since gained Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status, with the result that only pies made within a designated zone around Melton, and using the traditional recipe including uncured pork, are allowed to carry the Melton Mowbray name on their packaging.

Melton Mowbray Pork Pie
Serves 4-6

7 oz lard
2 fl oz whole milk
2 fl oz water
1lb plain flour, plus extra for dusting
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, beaten, for brushing

Pork jelly:
2 lb pork bones
2 pig's trotters
2 large carrots, chopped
1 onion, peeled, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
1 bouquet garni of bay, thyme and parsley, tied together with string
1/2 tbsp black peppercorns

Pie filling:
14 oz shoulder of pork, finely chopped
2 oz pork belly, skin removed, minced
2 oz lean bacon, finely chopped
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper
piccalilli or chutney, for garnish

For the pastry, place the lard, milk and water into a small pan and gently heat until the lard has melted. Sift the flour into a large bowl and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix well. Make a well in the flour and pour in the warm lard mixture. Mix well to combine, until the mixture comes together to form a dough. Knead for a few minutes, then form into a ball and set aside.

For the pork jelly, place all of the pork jelly ingredients into a large pan and pour in enough water to just cover. Bring slowly to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for three hours over a low heat, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface, then strain the stock through a fine sieve and discard the solids. Pour the sieved stock into a clean pan and simmer over a medium heat until the liquid has reduced to approximately1 pint.

For the pie filling, place all of the pie filling ingredients into a large bowl and mix well with your hands. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a pork pie dolly, or a jam jar, with cling film to prevent the pastry from sticking. Pinch off a quarter of the pastry and set aside. On a floured work surface, roll out the remaining three-quarters of pastry into a round disc about 1 1/4-inch thick. Place the pie dolly into the middle of the pastry circle and draw the edges of the pastry up around the sides of the dolly to create the pie casing. Carefully remove the dolly from the pastry once the pie casing is formed.

Roll the pork pie filling into a ball and carefully place into the bottom of the pastry case. Roll out the remaining piece of pastry into a circle large enough to cover the pastry case as a lid. Brush the top inner parts of the pastry casing with some of the beaten egg and place the pastry circle on top. Pinch the edges of the pastry to seal the pie. Brush the top of the pie with the rest of the beaten egg, then bake in the oven for 45 minutes to one hour, or until the pie is golden-brown all over.

Remove the pie from the oven and set aside to cool. Cut two small holes in the top of the pork pie and pour in the pork jelly mixture — you may need to heat it through gently to loosen the mixture for pouring). Chill in the fridge until the jelly is set. To serve, cut the pie into slices and serve with piccalilli or chutney.

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