Christmas has been very quiet for us, T-W-O, my mother and myself have shared a couple of slow days, eating drinking and generally just enjoying a rest. We now have a fridge full of cold meat and cheese which would feed an army and have been blessed with sweet gifts from our friends and family to add to our food cupboard. We only suffered one culinary disaster – I forgot to add sugar to the bread and butter pudding. Unusual taste!
Venturing into Llandeilo this morning we watched the hunt gather and then leave the town which we followed with a trip to the shops to have a look at some of the ‘sale’ bargains that are supposed to be around. We were disappointed with what we found and came home without spending too much. My Mum wanted to look for a new fridge/freezer as hers has developed a soggy bottom but it seemed that anything worthwhile was full price.
I didn’t take a photo of the pie but I was very proud of it. Please read through the recipe first as there are a couple of important things (such as it is made over 2 days) that you need to work out first.
The pork pie mixture
700g pork shoulder
200g unsmoked back bacon rashers
1 tb anchovy sauce – available via some deli’s, waitrose or Harrods!
half teaspoon ground allspice
half teaspoon ground mace
2 large chicken breasts
150 g cranberries
450 g plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
150 g lard
150 ml semi skimmed milk (or full milk and a bit of water or skimmed milk)
a beaten egg
The jelly (leave it out if you detest jelly in your pork pies)
gelatine powder or sheets for half a pint of liquid
half a pint veg stock made with home made stock or veg stock powder.
Line an 8 inch (20cm) cake tin with loose bottom lined with baking parchment to help you free it after it’s cooked and put the oven to 180 degrees C. Gas mark 4.
Make the pork filling.
Use a food processor for best results. Chop up the pork into chunks removing any skin and place in the food processor. Take the bacon and remove the rind, chop into chunks and put in the food processor. Add to this the rest of the pork pie filling ingredients (I use about half a ts salt and half a ts ground black pepper and whizz. We like our pie chunky so we don’t whizz too much but be guided by your own taste and whizz until you have a consistency you think is right for you. Put this in a bowl or tub, cover it and refrigerate until you need it.
The Middle bit
Take the chicken breast and a rolling pin. Lay a breast on a solid board and bash it flat. I find that prefrozen breasts brake up so fresh is best here if you can and repeat with the other breast. Pop these to one side.
Now you need all your pastry ingredients ready. Put the flour and salt into a bowl – you need a bowl that can be kept a bit warm so plastic is out. Now you need a saucepan and a wooden spoon ready. Put the lard in the saucepan and put on a medium heat, when the lard has just melted add the milk, if you forget about the lard don’t be tempted to add the milk as it will boil up and maybe over. I like to pop the milk in the microwave for a minute as the lard melts and then add it. Keep a close eye on you milky lard. Ithe lard and milk stay seperated so don’t worry about stirring it. Just as the milk starts to boil remove it from the heat.
Carefully tip the hot liquid into the flour and stir with the wooden spoon, the liquid will start to cool but PLEASE check the heat of your mixture before you put your hands in and need it. Need until it starts to smooth out and feels like a dough. Remember it needs to be kept warm.
I keep the bowl on top of my cooker – not on the rings but on the bits in between with a cloth over it. If you run a hob this may not be possible so have a pan with some hot water in ready and put your covered bowl over that.
Now take two thirds of the dough and some spare flour, generously flour your board and roll out to fill and overflow an 8 inch (I think is 20 cm) cake tin, not the deep tin, just a victoria sandwich one and carefully lay the pastry in, as long as it’s warm it’s pliable. Leave a bit of overhang for cutting.
Put it all together
Next lay in half the pork mixture and press down gently to fill the base. Use a chicken breast to layer over the pork as best you can and then tip in your cranberries. Then the next chicken breast and top this with the rest of the pork mixture.
Take the rest of the pastry and roll out to cover the top. Brush the pasty edge with some egg and put this on the pie, egg side down. I used a fork to push the egdes together working my way gently round the top of the pie. You need a vent hole in the middle of the top big enough to get a funnel in and then carefully trim the pie edge with a sharp knife.. I made a few leaf shapes to decorate and a few berries with the left over pastry. Brush the top with beaten egg.
Cook in the middle of the oven for 2 hours. Checking after an hour and then a few times more to make sure the top insn’t burning. If it starts to look dark on top pop a piece of foil over it.
When the 2 hours is up remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin. I pushed it up from the bottom to make sure the sides were free and then lowered it back in to let it cool.
Once it has cooled make the jelly. Use enough gelatin for about half a pint of liquid and follow your packet instructions, use vegetable stock in the liquid, I used veg stock powder. Let it cool a bit, stirring to make sure it won’t set and then add a few spoons of the stock through a funnel into the vent hole of the pie. Leave for a few minutes and then then keep doing this until all the liquid is gone or until it starts to seep through the base. Allow it to stand for a couple of hours and then pop in the fridge to complete the setting process. After half a day you need to decant the pie from it’s cake tin. Put the tin on top of a big jar – coffee or pickles make a good choice and lower the cake tine sides away from the base. Remove the paper from the sides of the pie and then take the pie gently from the base onto a plate. Keep in a fridge until you need it. It needs a sharp knife to cut it open.