cChristmas isn’t Christmas in my family without a gigantic pork pie, which, unlike the rest of us, gets increasingly crunchy as the festivities go on. For all the horror stories my mom tells about it, it’s surprisingly easy to make your own—especially if you replace the traditional, divisive pork jelly with a faster, fruitier alternative.
to equip 1 hour 15 minutes
cook 2 hours 20 minutes
800 grams of boneless pork shoulder
400 grams of skinless pork belly
100 grams of streaky bacon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon of English mustard powder
1 teaspoon ground mace
1 teaspoon mixed spices
Half a teaspoon of ground pepperPreferably white
Half a teaspoon of fine salt
1 tablespoon of anchovy sauceOR 4 anchovies in oil, drained and finely chopped (optional)
175 grams of lard
675 grams of plain flourIn addition to dust
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 eggbeaten with a little water or milk, to brush
600 ml apple juice
A small bunch of fresh thyme
4 sheets of gelatin
1 chop the meat
Start by preparing the meat. Remove any skin from two pieces of ham, if necessary, then cut all shoulder, belly, and bacon into cubes of about 1cm. Ask your butcher to chop it coarsely, if you prefer, but I like the coarser, juicier texture of the ground beef here (if the butcher can chop it for you, even better, as that’s the most time-consuming ingredient in the whole dish.)
2 Mix with spices
Put the meat in a large bowl with the chopped sage and remaining seasoning – if you left out the anchovies (a traditional addition – I used Geo Watkins’ anchovy sauce, but anchovy puree, mince steak or a Gentleman’s Relish will also work), you’ll need to add a little more salt. Mix well, then lightly fry in a dry frying pan and taste to check the seasoning. Adjust if necessary.
3 Make the pastries
Place the lard in a medium saucepan with 300ml of water and bring to a simmer, at which point the lard should melt.
Meanwhile, put the flour and salt in a large bowl. Pour the liquid into the mixture, stir to combine, then transfer to a clean work surface, and once it has cooled enough, knead until you have a smooth dough.
4 Roll the dough
Preheat oven to 220°C (Fan 200°C) / 425°F / Gas 7. Set a quarter of the dough aside and roll to keep warm. Roll out the rest on a lightly floured surface until it’s just large enough to line a deep, non-stick springform tin about 20cm in diameter, letting some stick out at the top. Use the excess pastry to plug any holes.
5 Fill the pastry tin
Spoon the pork filling into the pastry—it will deflate as it cooks, so pack it tightly. Fold the overhanging dough over the meat at the edges. Roll out the remaining dough, cut out a circle slightly larger than the circumference of the tin, and place it on top of the filling.
6 Seal, then crimp
Pinch the edges of the can and lid together to seal, then crimp around the edge (there are many videos on the internet), or press down with the flat tines of a fork. Poke a large hole in the center with the handle of a wooden spoon or similar, then decorate the lid with any pastry trimmings if you like.
7 Bake it, brush it with an egg and bake it again
Bake the pie for 30 minutes, then lower the oven to 180°C (fan 160°C)/350°F/gas 4 and bake for an additional 1 1/2 hours. Brush lightly with the beaten egg, and return to the oven for another 20 minutes – if you have a thermometer, the internal temperature should read at least 65°C. Remove and leave to cool for at least an hour.
8 Make fruit jelly
While pie is resting, cook apple juice and thyme in skillet until liquid is reduced by about half. Soak the gelatin leaves in cold water until soft and pliable, squeeze them, and then stir them into the hot apple mixture until completely dissolved. Leave it to cool, but don’t refrigerate it—you want it to remain portable.
9 Pour into pie, cool and serve
Remove the thyme and discard the gelatinous liquid. Insert a funnel into the hole in the top of the pie, pour a little bit of the jelly mixture and let it sit until it’s all absorbed into the meat.
Repeat until all of the jelly mixture is used or the pie is filled. Leave in a cool place to cool and soften completely, then cut into slices and serve. Eat within five days.