Like most people, Jane and I are creatures of habit. We try new places around town quite frequently but when we find a place we truly love we tend to go back regularly. One of the places we hold most near and dear to our hearts is a local bar named Blind Butcher. It could also be considered a restaurant as well, I suppose, but possibly best described as a pub. Not only do they serve a long list of well made cocktails and beer, they have the perfect bar food menu consisting of meats, sausages, and cheeses (We highly recommend the crispy pig ears).
Since we started going around the time of its opening we were happy to find that the menu tends to update fairly often. The sausage board seems to change up quite a bit, they add and remove snacks and desserts, and there’s typically a few off menu items too. Not that long ago we noticed that a traditional English Pork Pie started showing up in local reviews and we just had to try it. As you may have guessed, we loved it so much that we had to try and make one ourselves.
Traditional English Pork Pie has a few twists that I wasn’t prepared for when we first ordered it, and eventually, attempted to make it. First off, it’s served cold. Secondly, the gelatin! Finally, it’s made with a warm pie dough. I’m by no means an expert on pie, let alone meat pies, but most of the pies I’ve witnessed being prepared were made with a strict discipline of keeping the dough ice cold at all times. Then again, I didn’t really grow up in a pie making family.
It’s also a dish that requires a large amount of pork, minced or diced, and almost nothing else. I threw in some fresh sage and thyme, but the core flavor is in the meat so a good mix is necessary. I went with pork shoulder, pork belly, and everyone’s favorite, smoked bacon. In hindsight, having it pre-minced would have saved a lot of time and the tip of my left thumb too. Pork belly is slippery! Luckily, I made it through in one piece and all my fingers to show for it.
The one thing I wish I would have done differently is the gelatin. All in all, no complaints with how everything turned out, but I think the most authentic method of adding the gelatin would have been to cook down pigs ears (like Blind Butcher based on what I’ve read in the Dallas Observer) or pigs feet. Instead, we went with the alternative of gelatin powder and chicken stock.
On the side, you’ll typically find this served with mustard. We added a little apple chutney as well.
This is definitely a dish we will make again, but until then, we have a few trips to Blind Butcher ahead of us. They’ve just updated their menu for fall and I spy not only a shepherd’s pie but tripe and pig tails too.
1.5 lbs of pork shoulder
1 lb of pork belly
1/2 pound of smoked bacon, sliced
1 1/2 tbsp of fresh sage, chopped
2 tsp of fresh thyme
1 tsp of fresh ground nutmeg
1 tsp of mace
1 tbsp of salt (use more or less to your liking.
It’s a lot of meat!)
2 tsp of fresh cracked pepper
4 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup of lard
1 cup of water
unsalted butter for lightly coating the pan
1 egg for coating
1 qty 1/4-ounce package of Knox gelatin powder
1 cup of cold chicken stock for setting of gelatin powder
1 1/4 cup of chicken stock for heating
Preheat Oven to 350 F
In a large mixing bowl, add all three pork components, thyme, sage, nutmeg, mace, salt and pepper, and blend thoroughly. I used my hands but a wooden spoon would work just fine.
Place in the refrigerator until it’s time to add to the pan.
Add flour to a large mixing bowl
Using a sauce pan, add the water and lard, and heat slowly until melted. Bring to boil and remove from heat.
Slowly mix water into flour until combined, let it cool enough to touch, and then knead with your hands.
Remove a 1/4 of the dough for the top, wrap with plastic, and set to the side.
Use the remaining 3/4 to line evenly along the sides and bottom of a springform pan. We used one that was 7 inches, lightly buttered.
Add pork mixture and pack rather tightly.
Roll out the dough reserved for the top to about a 5 mm thickness. Stretch it enough to pinch together with the sides already in the pan, then place on top of the meat.
Now cut away a hole or vent for steam. This is also where you will pour the gelatin.
Place in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F
After 30 minutes, reduce the heat to 325 degrees F and bake for 90 minutes.
At 90 minutes, brush the top with beaten egg and place back in the over for another 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool at room temperature for roughly an hour and a half. You can make the gelatin at this point.
Add the gelatin to cold chicken stock for about 5-10 minutes, or until you can see that it’s worked its magic
Heat the remaining chicken stock to almost a boil, remove from head and stir in the gelatin. Set aside and allow to cool at room temperature.
When the pie has cooled, either use a funnel, or in our case, a turkey baster to add the stock in batches into the steam vent.
Cover the pie with plastic and place in the refrigerator overnight.