Richard McCulloch from Rowan Cottage Kitchen shares his recipe for Miniature Pork Pies…
NOTES FROM THE COOK:
The tins we use are muffin tins about an inch and a half deep and a couple of inches across which is perfect for our needs, but one of the problems we’ve found is that muffin tins are all wildly different shapes and sizes.
The recipe is enough to make about a dozen of our small size pies, but you will find that it varies for you, so if it’s for a special occasion where you absolutely must have a particular number of pies, start off well in advance of the event so you’ve got time to do a second batch!
For the filling:
- 500g boned rolled pork shoulder
- 125g lean diced bacon (if you can get ‘bacon ends’ from your butcher they are perfect for this)
- A small bunch of sage, chopped finely
- A large pinch of allspice
- A large pinch of nutmeg
- 1 anchovy fillet
- salt and pepper
For the pastry:
- 225g plain flour
- A pinch of salt
- 140g butter
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 beaten egg for glazing
For the jelly:
- 340g pork bones and a pig’s trotter (or a packet of gelatin)
- 1 stick of celery
- 1 carrot
- 1 onion
- 1 bay leaf
- Thyme (dried is fine)
- Bunch of parsley (include the stalks)
- Half a dozen black peppercorns
- 2 cloves
- Salt and pepper
To make the jelly:
It’s nice to do this the ‘proper’ way by covering the ingredients with water then boiling them together for three hours, skimming occasionally. After the time is up, sieve it into another pan and reduce to about half a pint and leave to cool. It’s the way we do it, and it makes the best jelly. But if you don’t have the time or inclination for this, or if you can’t find pork bones or trotters, you can substitute them for a pint of chicken stock with the rest of the ingredients – bring to the boil then simmer down to half a pint, sieve then season. Add the gelatin while it’s still hot but not boiling, then leave it to cool.
To make the filling:
Cut the pork and bacon into pieces about 1cm across, and trim the fat from the pork. You don’t need to be too fastidious about removing all the thin white fat; you’ll be there all day and the fat isn’t detectable in the finished product since it melts during cooking (if you’re worried about your cholesterol then check the pastry section – this recipe may not be for you). Put about half of the pork, 25g or 30g of the bacon and the anchovy fillet into a food processor and pulse it until it resembles a coarse sausagemeat. Put it into a bowl with the rest of the pork and bacon and add the spices, a pinch of salt and some freshly ground pepper. Mix it all together.
To make the pastry:
A traditional baker told me that this was the most hilariously wrong way to make pastry. Everything about it indicates that it should come out like leather, but instead it is light and crisp and as easy to work as Play-doh. Trust me. (If you don’t you can always work it by hand).
Clean out your food processor and put the blade back in. Tip in the flour, salt and butter and turn it on. It will, in a few moments, reach the desired ‘fine breadcrumb’ appearance. Stop the machine and add the whole egg and the egg yolk. Turn the machine on again until it starts to look like a dough, about a half a minute or so. If it is very dry – it all depends on the size of your eggs and the gluten in the flour – then add a few drops of water. It should resemble Play-doh or Plasticine. Take it out and put it on a floured surface, and knead it by hand for a moment or two until it is smooth.
Assembling the pies:
At this point, you have to assess the size of your muffin tin. Cut off part of the dough and roll it out until it’s about half a centimetre thick and large enough to fill the cup. You’ll find that it’s easy to work into the tin shape. If it’s too thick, press it flat. If you puncture it pull it out, knead and re-roll because holes mean that things get very messy later when you pour the jelly.
Turn on the oven and set it to 200C/400F/Gas mark 6.
Spoon the pie filling into each pastry cup, making sure that you fill them well without any large gaps. Roll out the remaining pastry and make lids (if you have an appropriately-sized pastry cutter this will be handy now). Brush a little beaten egg on the rim of each pie and press the lid on. Cut a hole in the top through which the jelly will be poured later. Brush the top with beaten egg.
Cook them in the oven for around 50 minutes.
When they’re done, allow them to cool for an hour or so then warm the jelly gently. It mustn’t be too hot, so just warm it until it’s liquid. Then, pour into each pie until no more can be taken. We have in the past been surprised by how much liquid a pie has taken, then realised that there was a hole in the pastry through which it was all escaping onto the floor, so watch out for that…
Allow the pies to cool overnight. Delicious!