The recipe is for classic pork pies, yet another dish that I thought came straight out of a deli or fridge section of whichever chain food store you wish to mention. Amazingly, you can make them at home: this recipe is one lovingly collected from Stylist magazine's "gourmet on the go" section. I imagine that the editor must think that the cook "on the go" is a three-toed sloth, because making these pork pies took me hours. (Incidentally, I think Stylist has gone downhill a bit in recent months; I used to rely on it for my free weekly girly-fix, but I just don't find it that essential anymore. But I digress.)
In addition to a substantial amount of time, you need:
for the pastry
450g of plain flour
one teaspoon of salt
one teaspoon of sugar;
for the filling
300g pork belly (skin removed)
300g pork shoulder
two anchovies in oil (drained)
200g smoked bacon
half a nutmeg seed (grated)
salt and pepper to season;
for the jelly
three gelatine leaves
200ml good chicken stock
100ml sweet sherry
one plastic syringe;
butter for greasing
flour for dusting and rolling
one egg, beaten with a pinch of salt for glazing.
Once the dough was sticky, I covered it with a tea towel, letting it rest for one hour, before turning it out onto a floured work surface to flatten. I then folded the flattened dough into thirds by taking one side into the middle and pressing down, then repeating with the other side.
I flattened this into an oblong shape and placed it on a baking tray covered with greaseproof paper and put it into the fridge for 30 minutes.
Next came the meat. After dicing the pork belly and shoulder, I mixed them with the anchovies (holding them at arm's length) before whizzing the lot of them in a food processor until they were mincemeat. I then diced the bacon and stirred this in before adding the nutmeg and seasoning.
After turning the oven on to 180ºC / gas mark 4, I took out the pastry and rolled it out on a floured surface. I folded it into three then rolled it out again until it was about three millimetres thick. From this, I cut out eight 12 cm-wide circles and eight 8cm-wide circles.
I greased eight metal pie moulds, dusted them with flour and lined with the 12cm pastry circle, leaving a little over-lapping. To each, I added one eighth of my pork filling, before placing the 8cm pastry circle on top, crimping the edges as I went.
After brushing them with egg wash and skewering a hole in the top, I placed them in the hot oven and baked for 40 minutes. Once out, I placed them on a rack to cool for two hours.
Now for the jelly. I soaked the gelatine in water for two minutes then squeezed out the excess water. This gelatine was added to the heated chicken stock and sherry and I stirred until it was dissolved, before cooling until it was thick enough to pour... fun and games were approaching.
I've never added jelly to a recipe like this before. The instructions stated using a syringe and, considering that I didn't know where the nearest needle exchange was situated, found myself in Sainsbury's buying a syringe for adding icing. (This, for reasons about to be made plain, may not be the best instrument for such a task. If you can think of a better one for next time, please let me know.)
I filled the syringe's body with the jelly and squeezed it into the hole I'd made in the top of the pastry. While a fair amount made it into the pie, a good deal of the jelly made it all over the work surface. Most annoying. I placed the whole lot in the fridge overnight, although eight hours would have been enough: I think I'd had enough of the process by this time.
As to the Devil's Fish, I thought it blended in quite nicely. Will I try it again?