While pork pies are mass manufactured throughout England, the Melton Mowbray pork pie from Leicestershire is distinct in that the sides bow outwards as it's baked freestanding; the meat is fresh and coarsely chopped; and natural bone jelly is added after cooking to provide texture and to fill crevices. Since 2008, the pie, after a 10-year battle, was given Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status to protect its origins and history, which dates back to the 1800s. For ease, we're used a springform pan.
400 g each rindless, boneless pork shoulder, belly and leg, each cut into 1 cm pieces*
250 g pancetta, rind removed, cut into 5 mm pieces
1 red onion, finely chopped
6 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground cloves
4 lemon thyme sprigs, leaves picked
1 tbsp finely chopped sage
1 egg, lightly beaten
mustard pickles, to serve
2 pig’s trotters*, rinsed
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 bay leaves
¼ tsp black peppercorns
12 5ml (½ cup) marsala
Hot-water crust pastry
450 g (3 cups) plain flour, sifted
70 g lard
50 g butter
1 egg yolk
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
To make jelly, place all the ingredients, except marsala, in a large pan and cover with 3 litres cold water. Bring to the boil, skimming any scum from the surface, then reduce heat and simmer for 2½ hours, adding water when necessary to keep trotters immersed.
Meanwhile, to make pie filling, place all the ingredients, except the egg, in a large bowl and season. Using your hands, mix until well combined. Process one-third of the mixture in a food processor until finely chopped. Return to remaining filling and mix until well combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
To make pastry, preheat oven to 180°C fan-forced. Grease a 6 cm-deep, 20 cm springform pan. Place flour and a pinch of salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Place lard, butter and 200ml water in a pan and bring to the boil.
Working quickly, pour lard mixture into the well and stir until almost combined. Add egg yolk and stir until a dough forms, kneading gently until smooth. Working quickly (dough should be warm when lining the pan), roll out one-quarter of the pastry on a lightly floured work surface until 4 mm thick. Cover and reserve. Roll remaining pastry into a ball, then roll on a lightly floured surface until 4 mm thick. Press firmly into the base and side of the pan and trim the edge, leaving 2 cm hanging over the rim. Patch any holes or thin parts of the pastry case with the trimmings; it needs to be fairly thick to prevent it from breaking.
Tightly pack filling into pan. Top with reserved pastry, gently pressing down on filling. Twist and crimp with overhanging pastry and brush the top with beaten egg. Using a 1 cm pastry cutter, remove a round from the centre of the pie. Place pan on an oven tray and bake pie for 30 minutes. Reduce oven to 160°C fan-forced and bake pie for a further 1½ hours or until pastry is golden brown and filling is cooked through. (Cover with foil, if necessary, to prevent pie over-browning.) Remove from oven and set aside to cool for 2 hours.
Meanwhile, strain jelly mixture through a fine sieve into a clean pan, reserve 1 litre stock and discard solids. Add marsala and place over medium–high heat. Bring to the boil and cook for 30 minutes or until stock has reduced by one-third. Season with salt and pepper, pour into a bowl, cool slightly, cover surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1½ hours or until jelly just starts to set. Remove wrap with any fat that has set on the surface. (Warm jelly if it is too firm to pour.)
Place pastry cutter into the hole in the pie, then place a funnel inside and hold it upright. Carefully pour jelly into funnel, waiting for it to seep into the pie before adding any more; you may not need all of it. Refrigerate pie overnight to set. Slice and serve cold with pickles.
* Don’t trim the fat from the pork as it prevents the pie from drying out.
* Order the pig’s trotters from your butcher.
DRINK Fuller’s ESB (Extra Special Bitter), England ($8, 500ml)
As seen in Feast magazine, Issue 10, pg61
Photography by John Laurie.