How to make a Christmas pork pie

Video guide to Christmas pork pie

Hi, I'm Jo and I'm going to show you how to make a Christmas pork pie.

Now, this is a really traditional pie to serve at Christmas and this recipe is very straightforward and very delicious.

Season with traditional flavours

Now, in here I've 450g of pork shoulder, which is very finely chopped and 110g of streaky bacon, also finely chopped. Now, to season the meat we're going to use some very traditional seasonings and the main one is mace. Mace is the outer husk from the nutmeg, which you don't often see in the shops, it's normally in its ground form but I thought it would be nice for you to see what it looks like like this, but actually it's going to be used just as its ground form in the seasoning. And also some white pepper. Now these are very, very tasty and this is basic filling for the pie.

Make the pastry

But the first thing I need to do is make the pastry. Now, for this it's a very rich pastry. I'm using 450g of plain flour and 225g of butter. Now, you could use lard, but for this I'm going to use butter today. And to make it a lot easier to incorporate into the flour, I'm going to grate it. So long as it's really cold and straight out of the fridge, it'll easily grate on the coarse part of your grater straight into that flour. Then just push the last pieces through, very gently with your fingers, making sure you don't catch fingers on the grater. And then just gently mix this together using a butter knife or table knife.

To this, I'm going to add half a teaspoon of salt. Sprinkle this over the top. Then just cut through with the knife. This makes it a lot quicker because it's grated than it would do if you'd finely diced it.

And then in with some water. I'm just using some cool tap water, about 90ml should be absolutely fine. Just add a little at a time to mix it into the flour, the butter and the salt.

I'm going to start this off with a knife but then I'll bring it all together with my hands because it makes it much easier if you're going to do this by touch. You don't want it to be too wet but equally you don't want it to be too dry at the same time.

Leave the dough to rest

So the pastry's coming together really nicely now, just take all those bits off your hands. Once it's reached a nice soft dough, you just want to pop it into the fridge for about an hour for it to rest. Now it's really important with pastry to make sure you do this because all the gluten within the pastry will rest and it'll become a nice soft dough once you've actually cooked it. So just press into a bowl.

Now you just want to pop this into a sandwich bag or wrap it in some cling film. So that's ready to go into the fridge. And I have one here that's just been in the fridge for an hour and ready to roll.

Roll the pastry

Now what I need to do is reserve about one third of this for the pastry lid, so I'm going to cut some of this off and keep to one side. And for the rest of it, I'm going to roll to about half a centimetre thick. So lightly flour the surface and then pop a little bit of flour on the top of the pastry, just to make sure that the rolling pin doesn't stick. And again, a little bit of flour over the top of the rolling pin. And then work the pastry with light sharp movements, making sure you don't press too hard because it's then the pastry could actually stick to your surface. So just keep it moving in a clockwise, or anticlockwise, direction while you're rolling.

Now that looks about right. The thickness for this is slightly thicker than the pastry you'd be rolling if you were doing, for example, a fruit pie because the meat filling is very heavy so it needs to have the depth of the pastry to be able to hold it. Then for the tin, I'm using a 20cm loose-bottomed tin, or you could use a spring-form tin as well. Just check that the pastry's going to be the right size to fit around the base and the sides, which this looks perfect. So let's gently lift up the pastry by folding it over the top of the rolling pin. Working fairly quickly because you don't want the pastry to start to fall off and roll over the surface. Just using the back of your hand and your fingers, press the pastry into the edges of the tin, working around slowly making sure that it's right into those corners.

I'm leaving the pastry overhanging on the edges because it can be trimmed afterwards and it will continue to relax and shrink a little bit into this tin whilst it's sitting. So the pastry case is lined, just keep that to one side.

Add the delicious filling

Now for the filling, in with the pork shoulder and the bacon, I'm going to add a good pinch of ground mace and this gives that lovely authentic Christmassy flavour to the pork pie. And I've got some ground white pepper, again a very traditional ingredient to use, that's half a teaspoon. And then season with some salt. If you want to add some extra pepper, a pinch of ground black pepper as well, and then just mix this together.

And this can just be transferred into the bottom of this pastry case. At this stage, you don't need to push the filling down, just keep it nice and light and loose.

Make the pastry lid

And then onto the lid. So we've got our final piece of pastry, that extra little third that we reserved from the base. Just lightly flour the surface again and then lightly flour the rolling pin. And then just roll this out, again as you were doing with the base, just into a circle big enough to be able to lay over the top of that meat.

There you go, that's there. Then pull up your pie and just brush the edge of the pastry, just with some water. That will just help the top of the lid to stick on that pastry. And then lay this over the surface and pinch the edges just so the seal sticks, just lightly. And then you can use your finger and thumb just to do a really nice neat seal. You could use a fork to do this if you wanted to, I prefer just to use my finger and thumb. And then I'm going to trim the pastry that's hanging over, for a nice neat finish.

So once you've sealed the edge, by either pinching it or with a fork, just take a knife and then trim any of that excess pastry that's overhanging.

Gloss the pastry

And then excess pastry you could pop in the fridge and use to make some mini pies or you could do some little decorations on top. And then you just want to brush over the top of the pastry with some beaten egg, this will give it a really nice glossy golden finish.

And then the final thing I need to do to this is just cut a little hole in the top and this allows steam to escape while the pie is cooking. I'm just going to transfer this onto a baking tray and doing this will make it far easier to transfer the pie in and out of the oven.

I'm going to put it in a pre-heated oven on 180 to 190 degrees centigrade for an hour and a half.

So this pie's cooked for an hour and a half, it's been cooling and then sitting in the fridge overnight, so it's nicely chilled. You could serve it just as it is, it would be really tasty, but for the authentic jelly that we all associate with pork pies, this is what you do.

Make the jelly

You just take a couple of sheets of leaf gelatine and soak them in cold water for about five minutes and then they'll become lovely and soft. Just squeeze out any of that excess water. And then stir into some very hot stock. Now make sure you use a good quality stock, it can be chicken, vegetable or beef. And then just stir it in. In here I've also got a tablespoon of chopped parsley. This will add a nice bit of colour and flavour to the finished dish. Stir round until it's completely dissolved and that's ready to pour into the pie.

But what I first need to do is where we had the hole originally when the pie was cooking, it's closed up whilst cooking so I'm just going to insert my sharp knife to make a big hole again. And then very carefully and slowly pour the stock into the hole. Because the meat wasn't packed in very tightly when you first put it into the pastry, it's going to have lots of gaps for that liquid to soak into so the jelly's evenly dispersed throughout. So just wait each time you put a little bit of the jelly in just for it to soak through the pie, then continue with another little pour. I think that's as much as I'm going to be able to get in there. Leave this to cool and then pop in the fridge for 12 hours, or overnight, for the jelly to completely set around that meat.

Garnish with cranberry sauce and serve

So the pie is now done and I've taken it out of the tin and we've got that rich golden pastry with that lovely meat filling, and I've garnished with some cranberry sauce and some bay leaves, perfect for any cold cut accompaniment.

Now that's how you make a Christmas pork pie.

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