How to make pork pie – recipe

The festive favorite gets our resident perfectionist treatment

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas in my family without a huge pork pie, which, unlike the rest of us, gets smaller and smaller as the festivities go on. For all my mom's horror stories on the subject, it's surprisingly easy to make your own – especially if you swap out the traditional, divisive pork jelly for a quicker, fruitier alternative.

Preparation 1 hour 15 minutes

Cook 2 hours 20 minutes

Portions 10-12

800 grams of boneless pork shoulder

400g skinless pork belly

100g striped bacon

1 tbsp chopped fresh sage

1 tbsp English mustard powder

1 tsp mace powder

1 tsp mixed seasoning

½ tsp ground pepper, preferably white

½ tsp fine salt

1 tsp anchovy sauce, or 4 anchovy fillets in oil, drained and finely chopped (optional)

For cake

175g lard

675g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

1 tsp fine salt

1 egg, beaten with a little water or milk, for brushing

For jelly

600 ml of apple juice

1 small bunch of fresh thyme

4 sheets of agar

1 Cut the meat

Start by preparing the meat. Remove any skin from both pieces of pork, if necessary, then cut all of the shoulder, belly and meat into about ½-cm cubes. Ask the butcher to roughly chop it, if you want, but I like the texture of the ground beef more and juicier here (if the butcher will cut it for you, even better, as it is the most time-consuming element of the entire dish). . . )

2 Mix with spices

Place the meat in a large bowl with the chopped sage and the remaining seasonings – if you didn't add the anchovies (a traditional addition – I used the Anchovy Sauce from Geo Watkins, but anchovy paste, chopped fillets, or Gentleman's Relish will also work), you should add more salt. Mix well, then lightly fry in a dry skillet and taste to check for seasoning; adjust if necessary.

3 Make a cake

Place the lard in a medium saucepan with 300ml of water and bring to a boil, by which time the lard should be melted.

Meanwhile, put flour and salt in a large bowl. Pour in the liquid, stir to combine, then remove onto a clean work surface and, as soon as it is cool enough to handle, knead into a smooth dough.

4 Roll out the cake

Preheat oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7. Set aside a quarter of dough, and wrap to keep warm. Roll out the remainder on a lightly floured surface until large enough to coat a deep nonstick springform pan about 20 cm in diameter, leaving some on top. Use excess cake to patch each hole.

5 Fill the cake box

Spoon the pork filling into the dumplings – it will shrink as it cooks, so pack it firmly. Fold over the pastry over the edges. Roll out the remaining dough, cut a circle slightly larger than the circumference of the tin and place it on top of the filling.

6 Seal, then bend

Pinch the edges of the case and lid to seal, then bend around the edges (there are plenty of videos online), or press down with the flat end of a fork. Make a large hole in the center with the handle of a wooden spoon or similar and, if you like, decorate the lid with any cake decoration.

7 Bake, brush with egg and bake again

Bake the pie for 30 minutes, then turn down the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4 and bake for another hour and a half. Lightly brush with the beaten egg, and return to the oven for another 20 minutes – if you have a thermometer, the internal temperature should read at least 65C. Remove and leave to cool for at least an hour.

8 Make fruit jelly

While the pie is resting, simmer the apple juice and thyme in a skillet until the liquid has reduced by about half. Soak the agar-agar leaves in cold water until soft and pliable, squeeze, then stir into the hot apple mixture until completely dissolved. Let it cool, but don't refrigerate – you want it to remain pourable.

9 Pour into pie, cool and serve

Remove and discard the thyme from the liquid jelly. Pierce the funnel into the hole in the top of the pie, then pour in a small amount of the gelatin mixture and allow it to absorb all of the meat.

Repeat until all the jelly mixture is used up or the pie is full. Leave in a cool place to cool and harden completely, then slice and serve. Eat in five days.

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