British Michelin-starred chef-turned-butcher and restaurateur Richard H. Turner has a new book out, titled, “Hog: Perfect Pork Recipes from the Snout to the Squeak.” It’s a call-to-action for sustainably raised pork, in which he makes the plea for quality versus quantity. Beyond that, the book pays homage to the savory delights of Turner’s favorite animal.
Flip through the pages of Hog, and you’ll find a handful of savory meat pie recipes, as any proper English cookbook should have. Turner says there’s no reason to be intimated because mastering the art of hot water pastry crusts is well worth the effort. Once you’ve “got your head around them,” there’s no end to the many other satisfying dishes that call for flaky pastry crusts like gala pies, game pies and terrines en croûte, to name but a few. So go whole hog and try your hand at this recipe for English pork pies.
Richard H. Turner’s Pork Pies
Yield: Makes 6 pies
Master Pork Broth (recipe follows)
14 oz pork shoulder
3½ oz bacon belly, un-smoked
1 tsp fresh sage, chopped
1 tsp anchovy essence (or 2 anchovies, crushed into a paste)
1 pinch ground allspice
1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 pinch ground cinnamon
Sea salt flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
⅔ cup lard, cut into small pieces
3 tbsp milk
3 tbsp water
¼ tsp sea salt, fine
1 free-range egg, beaten
1 tbsp water, for glazing
A pinch of sea salt flakes
You will also need:
6 pork pie molds, 4-inches in diameter
To make the filling: Roughly chop the meats, and then combine all the filling
ingredients in a bowl and season well. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the milk and water to a small saucepan, followed by the lard. Place the pan over a very low heat. Once the fat has completely melted to liquid, turn up the heat and bring to just a boil. Pour lard mixture over the flour and mix everything together, using a wooden spoon.
To make the dough: Turn the dough out onto a work surface. Knead briefly and quickly (it’s important that the pies go into the pan while the dough is still warm). Take ⅔ of the dough and cut it into 6 equal pieces. Roll each of these into a ball and place one ball into each of the molds.
To assemble: Using your thumb, quickly press the balls flat along the bottoms and up along the sides of each mold. Extend the pastry dough above the top edges of rims by a ½-inch. Next, divide the pork mixture between the lined molds.
Roll out the remaining pastry dough and cut out 4-inch disks to make 6 lids. Brush the egg wash around the circumference edges of each lid and gently press the lids onto each pie, egg wash-side down. Using a fork, crimp the edges together to seal the pies and glaze the tops with the remaining egg wash. Make a small hole in the center of each surface.
Place the molds on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes on the middle rack, then remove from oven. Using a butter knife or any thin, round-bladed knife, carefully remove the hot pies from the pan and place them directly on the cookie sheet. Bake for a further 20–25 minutes, or until the sides and base of the pies are crisp. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Meanwhile, heat the pork broth in a saucepan over medium-high heat until reduced by half. Once reduced, allow liquid to cool to room temperature.
Using a funnel, pour the still-just-liquid pork broth into the holes at the tops of the cooled pies. You may need to do this twice, letting the broth settle in between fills, to ensure that it has been evenly distributed.
Chill, uncovered, in the refrigerator to allow the jelly to set. Serve with mustard and cornichons.
Master Pork Broth
Yield: Makes 4 quarts
2¼ lbs pork bones
2 onions, halved
2 pork hocks
2 pig’s feet
1 smoked ham or bacon hock
2 large carrots, halved
2 celery stalks
2 large dried shiitake mushrooms
1 bulb of garlic
1 cup Madeira wine
1 cup soy sauce
5 qts water
1 bundle of fresh herbs (thyme, bay, rosemary, and parsley)
A spice bag (cloves, ½ cinnamon stick, 1 small knob of fresh ginger root)
Blacken the cut side of the onions in a very hot dry pan. Place in a large saucepan with all the other ingredients and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook 30 minutes or so. The trick here is to simmer at a bare roll and skim any impurities regularly, to achieve a clean, clear broth.
Without moving the pan, turn off the heat and gently ladle the broth out of the pot through a very fine sieve, taking care not to disturb the bottom too much. Cool and reserve the Master Pork Broth until needed.