Thanks to Borough Market in London, I can now enjoy delicious pork pies without having to travel north. Mrs King's Melton Mowbray Pork Pies is a regular stall in the market there every week, and if you're not from London, you can also buy them via the mail order and online upmarket food producer Forman & Field ( www.formanandfield.com).
The history of the business goes back to Elizabeth King, who started a shop in her name selling pies in Nottingham in 1883. Ian Hartland's grandfather bought her shop when he heard it was for sale and continued in her footsteps; and now the Hartland boys run the highly esteemed family pork-pie business from Cotgrave near Nottingham.
Homemade pork pies are nothing like the ones you buy in the shops. The pastry is easy to make and if you haven't got a mincer at home on your mixing machine, you can just chop the meat up very finely by hand. A helpful butcher might mince the filling for you. You can use various types of moulds for this, including individual open-bottomed soufflé rings, or raise them by hand like the Hartland boys do, but I'm not going to let you into their little secret method... All you do is take a large disc of pastry and shape it round the filling into a bulgy-sided pie, then join it to a smaller circle of pastry at the top by pinching round the edge. You could use this recipe to make two big pies, or even one very large one.
I prefer to eat the pies warm rather than cold, as that brings out the flavour and the pastry tends to be crisper. You can also add other seasonings such as anchovy essence, mace or allspice and a bit of sage to suit your taste - it's entirely up to you.
For the filling
1kg boned shoulder of pork, including 20-30 per cent fat
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the hot-water crust pastry
500g plain flour
1 egg, beaten
First prepare the filling: chop some of the best bits of pork into rough 1cm dice and mince or finely chop the rest. Season it well and mix in the diced meat. Take a small teaspoonful of the mixture and fry it to check the seasoning, then adjust it if necessary. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/gas 6.
Then make the pastry: mix the flour and the salt in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Bring 200ml water and the lard to the boil, then stir it into the flour with a wooden spoon to form a smooth dough. Leave the dough covered for about 15 minutes or so, until it can be handled.
Divide the dough into 6-8 equal pieces. Take one of the balls of dough and divide it into two balls, one twice the size of the other. Roll the larger piece on a lightly floured table to about 12-14cm in diameter. Use the smaller piece to make another circle about f half the size for the top. Put some of the filling in the centre of the larger circle, lay the smaller circle on top and raise the sides of the larger one up, then pinch the lid and the top of the sides together with your fingers. If it looks a bit of a mess, you can reshape it, as the pastry is quite pliable. Repeat with the rest of the pastry and filling.
Brush the pies all over with the beaten egg and cook them for 35-40 minutes. If they are colouring too much, cover them with foil and turn the oven down.
Serve them warm or cold, preferably with homemade piccalilli.Reuse content