A classic picnic staple, the pie has come a long way over the centuries to become the celebrated pastry feast we now enjoy.
With origins dating back as far as the ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks, the idea of wrapping sweet or savoury fillings in a form pastry is not a new one. In the 12th Century, pies were used to transport meat on long journeys without the need to take livestock, with the pastry acting as a casing rather than as something to eat.
Pies even have a royal connection with the people of Gloucester presenting the Royal Family with a lamprey pie to celebrate jubilees and coronations. Dating back to the Middle Ages, the pie is traditionally made using eel-like lampreys sourced from the River Severn which are then encased in a thick, hot water crust pastry.
Here at the Royal Gardens at Highgrove, we prefer our pies in the form of a delicious pork pie made using locally sourced meat and crumbly hot water crust pastry.
This recipe can make one large pie which serves 4 or can be divided up using a muffin-style tin to make smaller pies.
For the filling
400g/14½oz pork shoulder, chopped
150g/5oz lean smoked bacon, chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground allspice
Salt & pepper
For the pastry
450g/16oz plain flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper
50ml/2fl oz whole milk
50ml/2fl oz warm water
150g/5¼oz lard, chopped
1 free-range egg yolk, beaten
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
- For the filling, place half of the pork shoulder and bacon into a food processor and pulse to a coarse mince.
- Combine with the rest of the pork, bacon, sage, rosemary, nutmeg, allspice and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- For the pastry, sift the flour and salt and freshly ground black pepper into a bowl and set aside.
- In a pan, heat the milk, water and lard together and gradually bring to a simmer, or until all the lard has melted.
- Bring the milk mixture up the boil and then pour this onto the flour mixture. Mix well with a wooden spoon to create a firm dough.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead the dough quickly for a few minutes. Be careful, the pastry mixture will be very warm - you may want to protect your hands.
- Roll the dough out flat, then press the dough into a pork pie tin, saving a quarter of the dough for the lid.
- Spoon the meat mixture into the pastry-lined pork pie tin.
- Roll out the remaining quarter of pastry so that it's slightly larger than the tin all round.
- Brush the beaten egg yolk all over the pastry lid, then place the pastry on top of the meat mixture and press down the edges to seal.
- Cut a small hole in the top of the pastry to let the steam escape while cooking.
- Transfer into the oven and cook for 45 minutes to one hour, or until the pastry is golden-brown and the meat is completely cooked through.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin.
To serve, turn the pie out of the tin and slice. Add a spoonful of tangy Organic Farmhouse Chutney or Organic Onion Marmalade for that traditional flavour, or Highgrove Honey Mustard with Chilli if you’re feeling spicy.