Melton Mowbray Pork Pie – what a mouthful. A mouthful of deliciousness, that is!
Sometimes when I’m reading a fantasy book, I like to think what I would cook in that world. For books like The Hobbit, the answer is pretty easy since the characters focus so much on food!
I would like to think that Frodo and Bilbo would happily pull a chair up to my table if these pork pies were in the oven!
These pies are based on a classic British pork pie that is very involved to make. It requires baking and cooling and making an aspic out of boiled pork bones. I used a shortcut method, but the results are still delicious!
There aren't a lot of ingredients in this recipe, but it’s all about execution.
For starters, take your pork (you can use boneless ribs or shoulder) and cut it into chunks. Try to split the pork into fatty pieces and lean pieces.
The fat pieces are important to make the gravy, but we’ll only use the lean pieces in the pie so it isn’t too fatty.
For the lean pieces, take the time to cut them into nice, smaller chunks.
To start the pork, add the fatty pieces of pork and a few strips of bacon to a cast iron skillet over low heat. You may not need the bacon if you have enough fat pieces, but I needed them.
Put this over low heat and let the fat slowly render out of the pork.
After 15 minutes or so you should have a few tablespoons of pork fat rendered out. Then you can remove the fatty pieces of pork and discard them.
Next, season the lean pieces of pork with a big pinch of salt and pepper and add them to the same pan. Turn the heat up to medium-high and let the pork brown nicely on all sides.
Once the pork is browned, remove it from the pan, but don’t wash the pan. You’ll want all those pork flavors for the gravy later!
Now let’s talk dough. You could make the pastry from scratch, or refrigerated pie crust works too. Roll the dough into a ball and break off about 1/4.
Take the larger hunk of dough and place it on some parchment paper. Then just use your hands to shape the dough into a bowl with edges about two inches high.
You should be able to fit 8-10 ounces of browned pork into each one of these small pies. You can really pack it in there!
Roll out the smaller hunk of dough and top the bowl with the crust. Crimp the edges and brush the whole thing with egg wash. Also, cut a small hole in the top so steam can escape.
You can do the same thing with the second pie crust in the box to get two delicious pork pies.
Bake the pies at 400ºF for 10 minutes and then turn heat down to 325ºF and bake for another hour.
Remove the pie and let it cool.
While it cools you can make a quick gravy in the pan that you cooked the pork in. Just reheat the pan over low heat and stir in the flour. Then stir in the beef stock and it’ll form a light but flavorful gravy.
While the original version of this recipe actually calls for piping the gravy (or aspic) into the pies, I like to just serve it on the side so people can add it as they like.
This is a totally filling dinner and if you serve it with a salad or something, one pie can easily feed two people.
Or one very hungry hobbit.
Nick thinks a very hungry hobbit would devour these pies. Be sure to check out his blog, Macheesmo, and follow him on his Tablespoon profile.