How to make a pork pie

Food & drink
How to make a raised pork pie

I feel like I’ve mastered a mysterious, secret art.

I made a pork pie, and it was easy. More than that, it tasted astounding.

Here’s how.

Start with the pastry. The pastry is unusual as it’s made with hot water. It seems to go against everything you know about making pastry, but it does work.

Gently melt 100g of butter and 100g of lard together in a pan, with 200ml of water. While the fats are melting, mix 550g of plain flour and one and a half teaspoons of salt together in a large bowl, then break two eggs into the bowl. Using a knife to start with, cut the eggs into the flour a little and slowly pour in the fat and water, mixing all the time.

The dough will come together. You may need to add more flour or water. Briefly knead the dough, then wrap it in clingfilm and let it rest in the fridge for an hour or so.

Now the filling. The filling of a pork pie is basically a course pate, and it’s no more difficult than making a meatloaf or a decent burger.

Cut 1kg of pork shoulder into small cubes, about half a centimetre across, and place it in a large mixing bowl. A very sharp knife is vital here, as well as patience – it takes a while.

Add 250g of finely chopped salt pork, streaky bacon or, if you’re feeling extravagant and want a continental twist, pancetta to the bowl, along with 250g of minced belly pork. Your butcher will be able to mince a few slices of belly pork for you.

The balance of meats is important. The chunky shoulder adds texture, the bacon or salt pork adds flavour and the minced belly provides fat, to keep the pie moist.

Now to season the filling. Finely chop a dozen sage leaves and the leaves from two large sprigs of thyme and add them to the meat, along with a generous teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, a teaspoon of ground white pepper, half a teaspoon of ground mace and a good pinch of cayenne pepper. Mix everything together well.

Next, cut off about a third of the pastry and put it to one side for the lid, then roll out the rest into a 30cm round. Slide the pastry into a 20cm cake tin with a loose base and press it down so that the pastry reaches about three quarters of the way up the side of the tin. Using a spring form tin with a clip on the side will make the ‘getting the pie out’ operation much simpler.

Fill the pastry case with the meat, and push a single bay leaf into the very centre of the pie.

How to make a pork pie
Roll out a suitably sized pastry lid and crimp it into place, using a little beaten egg to glue the joint together. Cut a small hole in the top of the pastry.

Bake at 180c for thirty minutes, then reduce the heat to 160c and continue to cook for a further hour and a quarter.

After this time, take the pie out of it’s tin and brush the top and sides with beaten egg, returning it to the oven for another quarter of an hour to brown.

When the pie has finally finished cooking, let it stand for half an hour or so to cool, then heat up 250ml of pork stock that will set to a jelly in a pan. Making pork stock with a couple of trotters will guarantee that the stock will set, but if you’re unsure, add some gelatin as well.

Using a turkey baster, squirt the hot stock into the hole at the top of the pie. The meat will have shrunk during cooking, and there’ll be a gap between it and the crust, which you want to fill with jelly. This could take some time – let the stock sink into the pie before adding more – but try to get as much stock in as possible.

Leave the pie to cool completely, then refrigerate overnight to allow the jelly to set.

Serve huge wedges with a simple salad and some chutney for an easy, but substantial lunch.

The pie will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge. It’s enormous – you’ll need a lot of people to eat it in one go. This is proper food.

This recipe is from Hugh FearnleyWhittingstall’s unsurpassed The River Cottage Meat Book. All carnivores should own a copy.

How to make a pork pie

22 comments… add one
  • Chris Thompson Apr 26, 2010

    Just made your pork pie very pleased with it for my 1st attempt. I didnt have any real butter in so i used ghee ! Pastry was very good, no bacon so i used panchetta a little big on the bite so bacon next time for me, I also didnt have Mace so just risked it without maybe a bit more pepper next time for my taste and to top it off i cooked it outdoors in my brick oven i have just completed excellent.. Have you tried Old Spot brewerys beer ?? Its on at several places loccally but without doubt it is kept best at the New Inn at Denholme light but dark is the one to try there. Many thanks

  • rich Apr 26, 2010

    Chris, excellent news – well done! On Old Spot Brewery, do you work there? If you do, drop me a lne – would love to come and see you if poss.

  • Cigars Online May 9, 2010

    This looks so good ! My mother in law does the pork pie thing like once a month, but I haven't ever tried it.. You made it look super easy and I think I will be able to tackle it now. Hopefully it's comparable to my mother in laws.. seems like I can always ruin a good thing!


  • Paul Sep 14, 2010

    Took so long to make and it was all gone so quickly. Couldn't get mace so used nutmeg. Really authentic recipe, and tasted absolutely delicious. Only down side was it seemed a little overcooked inside, but the pastry was just perfect. Next time, and there will be a next time I will reduce cooking time by 15 minutes. Could be my oven though, so try as per recipe and then change to suit your needs. Will make another one for Christmas, as long as my cholesterol level recovers. Lovely

  • Mick Dec 19, 2010

    Great and really simple before I put the lid on I lay an inch of apple sauce over the top of the meat knock out recipe thanks

  • Flo Ephgrave Mar 14, 2012

    Just had to let you know i tried your pork pie recipe . My grandson keept going on about pork pies so i gave in .I used your recipe but made 18 small ones .I made them in foil muffin cases .I will say they did not last long .They were so good .

  • ann May 1, 2012

    recipe sounds like the bees knees, can’t wait to try it. Finding Mace is an issue for me too. another pork pie recipe called for anchovy essence, can’t find that either; so i shall try this one first.

  • Paul Jun 28, 2012

    Absolutely stunning pie.
    I made two from the ingredients as I don’t know enough people to eat a whole one.

    The first time I made these, I follow the recipe to the letter. Excellent

    This time round, I’m going to substitute the trotter jelly for an apple jelly, which reminds me, I better get that on the hob.

    Thank you for taking the time to write all this down to help us noobie pie makers.

  • sarah Aug 24, 2012

    hi just to let you know you can get ground mace from large tesco stores it is in with the schwartz jars you can also get anchove paste from there i hope this helps you

  • gayle Oct 1, 2012

    This looks excellent, I can’t wait to try! I think I’d rather make two smaller pies or else a dozen mini pies, does anyone know roughly how to tell when a pie is cooked?

    I think Worchestershire (spelling? no idea) sauce is anchovy essence.

    • Gary Oct 28, 2012

      Worcestershire Sauce is not Anchovy Essence, but it does contain Anchovies. I think you could use it as a substitue, but would be a bit more spicy.

  • peter allitt Nov 24, 2012

    i have now made two of theese and they were fantastic, does any one know fow to make a huntsman pie. many thanks

  • Anona Dec 14, 2012

    I make this pie every Christmas Eve for a big party we attend at it is always the first thing to go in about 5 mins, is easy and very yummy!

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  • Martin Oct 30, 2013

    I made this pie for a big summer party my street had this year. They loved it!

    Thank you so much!

  • Ken Twyman Jun 17, 2014

    I made the pork pie to give to my fishing mates going on our annual trip Lake Benmore in southern New Zealand at the beginning of June, It was a great success not a crumb left.
    After more than sixty years living in new Zealand it does my heart good to be able to make a pork pie that is the REAL THING thank you.

  • Rob Naylot Jul 11, 2014

    I improved my stock by adding the jelly from good pork dripping and by using the fat from the same dripping instead of lard I got a very tasty pastry. A minute in the microwave on full melted the dripping and then I used a separating funnel to decant the fat from the liquid jelly.

  • robbie Dec 23, 2014

    i’ve made two up to yet,and following your recipe,……went well i used jelly from the paket with chicken stock also from the packet/jar….the only problem was it didnt last long everbody scofft it ..ill rethink and try one with a 40cm ring spring tin as we all love pork pie…and dont forget the mustard..brill thanks
    merry xmas von germany

  • mike Sep 14, 2015

    Reading this recipe i just knew that it was a goodun. My mouth was watering. Im not going to share my pork pie with nobody. Maybe the next one

  • Eve Dec 16, 2015

    I love the fact I have made a Pork Pie at all, it seemed like the Holy Grail. The only difficult bit was getting the stock in the hole and running around the inside of the pastry. It took me ages and it kept escaping in the odd cracks of pastry, but all in all it was beautiful to eat and a picture to look at.

    • Charlie Dec 28, 2015

      Had the same problem as Eve with jelly escaping, try clingfilm around and under the cool pie then foil this worked for me.

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