The Melton Mowbray pork pie is named after Melton Mowbray, a town in Leicestershire..Melton pies became popular among fox hunters in the area during the late nineteenth century. The uncured meat of a Melton pie is grey in colour when cooked; the meat is chopped, rather than minced. The pie is made with a hand-formed crust – this style of production gives the pie a slightly irregular shape after baking. As the pies are baked free-standing, the sides bow out, they are not vertical like mould-baked pies. Melton Mowbray is considered the traditional source of commercial and artisan made pork pies, and the geographic range of British pork pies tends to centre on the English Midlands. Nevertheless, other regions of England also have small artisan, premium pork pie makers, notably Norfolk and Lincolnshire. In Yorkshire, artisan pork pies are known as Growlers, however, a Growler . An annual competition is held in April at The Old Bridge Inn, Ripponden, Yorkshire to find the best pork pie. We would urge you to seek out a Melton Mowbray pie or another artisan pie made by a proud pie maker, failing that here is a recipe so that you can have a crack at making a pork pie of your own.
- 1kg boned pork shoulder
- 250g pork belly
- 250g streaky bacon
- 2 bushy sprigs of thyme
- 2 sage leaves
- ½ tsp ground mace
- ½ tsp ground white pepper
- 2 good pinches ground nutmeg
- 200g lard
- 220g water
- 575g flour
- 1 beaten egg
- 1 x 20cm cake tin
- For the stock:
- bones from the pork (left)
- 2 pig's trotters
- 1 onion
- 1 small carrot
- 1 small bunch of parsley stalks
- 1 rib of celery
- 6 black peppercorns
Make the filling
- You need to chop the pork into small cubes, about 5mm in size. You could mince it, but the texture will be much more interesting if you can bear to cut it by hand. Or you could chop half, then whizz the other briefly in the food processor.
- Finely chop the bacon.
- Remove the thyme leaves from their stems, add the sage leaves and chop both finely. Mix the herbs into the chopped meats together with the mace, white pepper, nutmeg and 1 tsp each of salt and coarsely ground black pepper.
- Put the lard and water into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Sift the flour with a good pinch of salt into a large bowl. Pour the hot lard and water into the flour, mix with a wooden spoon, then leave until cool enough to handle. The pastry must be warm when you start to work it.
- Set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4. Lightly grease and flour your mould or cake tin (with removable bottom).
- Pull off a quarter of the pastry and roll it into a lid that will fit the top of the cake tin.
- Roll the remaining pastry to fit the base of the tin.
- Lay it in the bottom, then firmly push the dough up the sides with your hands. It should spread quite easily. If it slides down, leave it to cool a bit more.
- Make certain there are no holes or tears. This is crucial, as the jelly will leak out. Spoon the pork filling into the lined cake tin and press it down. It should come almost to the top of the pastry.
- Brush the edges of the pastry above the meat with beaten egg. Lower the lid into place and press tightly to seal with the edges.
- Poke a small hole in the lid to let out the steam and put the tin on a baking sheet.
- Bake for 30 minutes, then lower the heat to 160C/gas mark 3 and bake for 90 minutes until the pastry is pale gold. Brush with the beaten egg and return to the oven for 30 minutes.
- Put the bones into a deep saucepan with the onion, carrot, parsley stalks and the celery rib.
- Cover with water and bring to the boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and leave the liquid to cook for an hour, watching the water level carefully and topping up where necessary.
- Remove from the heat, decant the liquid into a bowl and leave to cool.
- Refrigerate overnight. If it has set very firmly, simply remove the fat from the top of the stock, transfer to a saucepan and bring to the boil. If it is still on the runny side, then remove the fat as before, pour into a saucepan and boil hard until it is reduced to about 400ml.
- Season carefully with salt.
- When the pie is ready, pour the stock into a jug and then pour it carefully through the hole in the top of the pastry. A funnel is invaluable here.
- Leave the pie to cool, then refrigerate overnight.