Sunday, August 8, 2010

Raised pies

This is another traditional English dish that Darren was missing last week. I'm going to take him a taste, but most of it will end up in my lunches.

I meant to make pork pies, one round and one long with boiled eggs in. My volume estimation was a bit off though, and I ended up making one pork pie and one beef one - good thing I'd bought two lots of the blade steak I used for the potted meat!

Raised pies use a funny sort of pastry made with hot water. Lard is melted in hot water (or water and milk), then it's brought to boiling point …

… and poured into flour with a little salt.

The mixture is worked into a ball, working reasonably quickly because it needs to stay warm. No huge panic though, I discovered that you can re-heat it in the microwave quite successfully.

I cut my ball in half, then cut 1/3 off each of the halves to keep warm and use for lids. I'm nowhere near expert enough to be able to raise a pie by hand, so I covered two dishes with GladWrap and moulded the pastry over them thus:

Then I stuck the in the fridge to set.

While they were cooling down in the fridge, I hard-boiled two eggs, then diced my bit of pork shoulder quite finely, and mixed it with some salt, pepper, a little Cayenne pepper, and a bit of finely chopped thyme from the garden:

Oblong is not the best shape for a free-standing pie! I had to prop up the edges so they wouldn't collapse until I'd filled it. I think I should have made the pastry a bit thicker too.

I packed the meat into the pie, tucking the peeled eggs in the middle, then pressed out the pastry lid …

… and carefully placed it on top of the pie:

I filled the round pie with beef seasoned with salt, pepper, Cayenne, and a bit of anchovy sauce:

I pressed the lids onto the cases firmly, trimmed the ragged bit off, cut little holes in the top (for pouring in jelly when cooked), made some pretty little leaf decorations, and wrapped paper around them so they wouldn't collapse in the oven as they heated up:

Then I brushed their tops with beaten egg and they went into a 200°C oven for 20 minutes, followed by about an hour and a half at 160°C. I took the paper off about half way.

I need a bit more practice at this - despite all my precautions I ended up with some small holes from which cooking juices leaked …

… and one side of the pork pie collapsed. I removed the paper a bit too soon.

And that made filling it with jelly just a tad difficult. I had some pork jelly in the freezer, it was left over from making porchetta di testa at Christmas time. I melted it down and added the cooking juices that had escaped from the pies (I sucked them up with my turkey baster) and let it set again to make sure it would be solid enough:

Then I melted it and very carefully poured it into the pork pie through the collapsed side in several stages, leaving the pie propped at all sorts of angles as the bits of jelly set. I had to plug a few small holes with bits of solid jelly too, but it all worked out quite well in the end:

The slices of pie don't look half bad. And it tastes good too.

I didn't bother putting jelly in the beef pie, so it was a little dry, but tasty.


Hot water pastry

 225g flour
1/2 tsp salt
100g lard
110ml water

Melt the lard in the water, then bring to boiling point
Mix into the flour and salt, work into a ball.
Use while warm. If it gets too cold and stiff, warm it briefly and carefully in the microwave.


  1. That pie looks delicious to me. I have only had pie like yours once in 1982 when I visited Surrey. What wonderful memories your pictures evoke. I told my teens just the other day that my trip to England was the best ever, I ate and drank my way through the country. Never looked back and gained like 10 pounds in three weeks. Lots of good baked pasties, ale and sherry. Oh to be 18 again!

  2. Is this the normal way of making these pies? The pastry part of it? Thought the pies were always baked in tins.....

    why am I feeling hungry.... breakfast was only hour and half ago!

  3. It's the "proper" way to make them, although I think most people would use tins. According to Wikipedia a true Melton Mowbray Pie has to be made without any sort of tin.

    My facsimile copy of Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management tells you you can use a glass mould the way I did here if it's too difficult to do it without. One day I'll try doing it just with my hands, it'll be like making pottery!