Celebrate St. George's Day with a proper British pork pie. This is the perfect recipe for a special picnic or a summer lunch and an easy pastry for those with 'hot hands'. Start these pies the day before; they need to set overnight or for a good few hours before eating. Bear in mind that to make four small pies you will need four 340g jars (about 8.5cm/3.5in diameter).
To make the pastry, put 110ml water in a small saucepan, add the milk, diced lard and butter and heat through gently until the fat melts. Turn up the heat and bring the mixture to the boil.
Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Have a table knife ready and carefully pour in the just-boiled liquid. Immediately stir with the table knife to form a rough dough. Knead lightly until the dough is smooth and silky, being careful not to overwork. Wrap in clingfilm and set aside to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Combine the pork shoulder, sausage meat, bacon, mace or nutmeg, sage, white pepper in a mixing bowl with a large pinch of salt, making sure the ingredients are evenly mixed. Take one-third of the dough and wrap it in clingfilm.
To make four small pies, have ready 4 x 340g jars (about 8.5cm/3.5in diameter). Wrap the (outside) bases of the jars in clingfilm. Divide the remaining two-thirds of the pastry into four even pieces. Keeping any unused pastry covered with clingfilm or a tea towel to stop it drying out, mould one pastry piece evenly around the base of the jar, bringing it about 8-9cm/3.5in up the sides.
Make sure the base isn’t too thick and that the pastry is even, without any holes (mould/press these out or patch with a little extra pastry, as necessary). Repeat with the other three jars and turn upside down. Refrigerate for 1 hour, until chilled and hard. Divide the reserved third of pastry into four. Roll each piece out to form a circle, about 8cm/3.5in in diameter, cover with clingfilm and set aside at room temperature while the jars chill.
Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C fan, gas 4.
To remove the pastry cases, turn the jars right-side up and carefully pour boiling water from the kettle into the jars themselves. The pastry case can then be gently pulled downwards to remove it from the jar in one piece. Sit the cases on a baking sheet.
Divide the pork mixture between the four pie cases, pressing it in firmly with the back of a teaspoon while supporting the sides. Lay the circles on top and pinch the edges together firmly, crimping right the way around between finger and thumb to make a raised crimped crown. Repeat to seal all 4 pies. Brush the tops of the pies with beaten egg and use a small knife or skewer to make a small hole in the top of each.
Bake for 50 minutes, until the pastry turns a rich golden brown. Check halfway through and cover the tops loosely with foil if they appear to be over-browning. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
While the pies cook, heat the chicken stock in a small pan until almost boiling, then remove from the heat. Meanwhile, soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes, until softened. Squeeze out the excess water and add to the hot stock, stirring to dissolve. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
Using a very small funnel or a plain piping nozzle, pour the stock into the hot pies via the central holes, adding it slowly to give it time to soak in and run into the gaps between the meat and the pastry at the sides and on the tops. Leave to cool completely, then chill the pies for at least 4 hours or overnight to set the jelly.
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For top tips on protecting you and your family when preparing raw meat and poultry, visit Food Safety in the Home.