- Food & Drink
If there was a silver lining to the sloe gin taste off, it was the gala pork pie we used to line our stomachs. We actually ate it as a light starter and then followed it with a full English, as there was some concern about what would happen to our stomach linings if the gins came into direct contact with them.
I developed the desire to make a gala pork pie – a pork pie with hard boiled eggs hidden inside, like a cholesterol surprise – earlier in the week, thinking: “How hard can it be?” After opening up my copy of English Food by Jane Grigson and turning to the Raised Pies section, I realised the answer was: “Quite hard and really time consuming.” But it was too late. The desire to make one was upon me.
I gathered the ingredients, including a lovely bit of free range pork shoulder from Naz, the Italian butcher on Evelina Road. He skinned, boned and began the chopping process for me, which saved me hours of meat wrestling and for which I am eternally grateful.
One ingredient I couldn’t find was anchovy essence, which gives the pie an extra savoury lift (pork, bacon and lard not being savoury enough on their own). On the grounds that stinky sauces made from anchovies can’t be all that different, I subbed in some Thai fish sauce. The pie was delicious, so we’ll call that substitution a success.
I did make the classic mistake of getting over excited and trying to lift the pie out of its tin before it was completely cold, which cracked the pastry. Every time I poured the jelly stock in, a good percentage of it seeped back out. I ended up adding the stock several times in order to get some of it to stick. The end result didn’t have as much jelly as it should’ve, but as the pie didn’t survive the weekend I won’t worry too much.
This recipe is based on Grigson’s general directions for raised pie making and her specific instructions for pork pie filling. If you don’t own a copy of English Food, then your cookbook collection is sadly incomplete.
Gala pork pie
FOR THE JELLY:
2 pig’s trotters, roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
1 onion, peeled and stuck with 3 cloves
1 stick celery, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
A couple of sprigs of parsley
1 tsp black peppercorns
Bones from the shoulder of pork (see below)
FOR THE FILLING:
6 medium eggs
11/2kg skinned, boned shoulder of pork, fat and flesh chopped into 1/2cm–1 cubes (reserve the bones for the jelly)
200g unsmoked back bacon, finely chopped
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
A pinch of allspice
1 tsp anchovy essence or Thai fish sauce
FOR THE PASTRY:
500g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tbsp icing sugar
175g lard plus extra for greasing
Beaten egg, to glaze
Make the jelly by placing all the ingredients in a large pan with 21/2 litres cold water. Cover, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 4 hours.
Strain the stock into a clean pan, measuring how much stock you have as you do so. You need to reduce it to approximately 500ml. I had just over 700ml, so I stuck a wooden spoon handle into the stock to measure the level and then boiled it to reduce by roughly 1/3, which I measured by the level on the wooden spoon handle. Taste and season. Set aside.
Meanwhile, boil the eggs for 10 minutes, then plunge into cold water to quickly cool. Set aside.
Mix together the ingredients for the pork pie filling. Season lightly. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry a teaspoonful to taste. Adjust the seasoning accordingly and set aside.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200°C/fan oven 180°C. Grease a 20cm loose-bottomed, high-sided cake tin with melted lard.
Make the pastry by sifting the flour and icing sugar into a large bowl with a pinch of salt. Melt the lard with 200ml cold water. Pour into the flour and work to a smooth dough with a wooden spoon. Cover with clingfilm and set aside to cool for 10 minutes or until cool enough to handle (but not cold).
Dust your work surface with flour and chop ¼ of the pastry off. Set aside. Working quickly, roll out the remaining pastry to make a circle large enough to cover the tin’s base and sides. Roll up around the rolling pin and then unroll into the tin. Press it in, gently dragging and building it up if it sags, leaving 1–2cm hanging over the top.
Pack half the pork pie filling into the tin. Shell the eggs and nestle them in the pie. Cover with the remaining pork pie filling.
Roll out the remaining pastry to make a round lid that will snugly fit the top of the pie. Lay over the pork filling. Brush with beaten egg and fold the overhanging pastry. Crimp with your fingers or a fork to seal. Brush with more beaten egg, poke a hole in the centre large enough to fit a funnel and bake for 30 minutes.
Turn the oven down to gas mark 3/160°C/fan oven 140°C and bake for a further 2 hours. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely. Warm the jelly stock up so it’s liquid and funnel into the pie through the central hole. Chill in the fridge for at least 24 hours before serving.