British Bites: Pork Pie

British Bites

Classic British dishes updated for the modern American cook.


[Photograph: Sydney Oland]

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There may not be a British meat pie more iconic than the pork pie. Pork and pork jelly set in a simple hot water crust—timeless, classic and elegant. Served cold as either a snack or as part of a meal, this hearty pie is a bit like a pâté en croûte, but more British. And if you've never had one, it is well worth the time to make it.

There are two well-known versions of this dish, the first being the classic which uses minced and cured pork, which retains its lovely pink color when cooked. It's also cooked in a mold or pork pie dish so that the straight-sided silhouette can be achieved. The second is the Melton Mowbray pork pie, using uncured pork as well as a hand-formed crust. My version of the pork pie is somewhere in between, using a combination of cured ham as well as fresh ground pork, but still retaining the traditional straight-sided shape.

I have included a recipe to make pork stock, which will set into a gelatin. But if you have a hard time finding trotters, or just don't have the time, setting a boxed chicken stock with gelatin is a fine substitution. Make sure to take the time to season the stock before you add the powdered gelatin; a dash of sherry goes a long way if you happen to have a bottle sitting around. If you don't happen to have a jar of marmite, a minced anchovy fillet can be substituted. But if you do, the slightly bitter, salty yeast paste makes a great addition, although not entirely traditional.

Once you've made you're pork pie, and gotten your gelatin set, you're ready to slice and serve. A few things to have alongside your pie would be a bottle of HP sauce, a couple of different mustards, a few pickles and chutneys, and a tall cold pitcher of dark bitter ale.