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the sunday project

with Karen Ralph


On the face of it, a pork pie seems pretty simple and straightforward. Meat contained in pastry, how hard can it be? Having made a few classic pork pies, I can tell you that the beauty is in the simplicity of basic ingredients elevating each other into something entirely new and delicious. The meaty delights contained in glossy, richly glazed pastry should be revisited: it’s easy and satisfying to make, fun to serve, travels well, and is comforting and delicious. What you put in it is up to you, traditionally it is pork, but you can use chicken and I’ve made a delicious vegetarian version using sautéed mushrooms, onions, spinach and peppers – and butter or vegetable shortening instead of lard. Versatile in ingredients and size, the savoury pie is well worth revisiting.

Pork Pie with Hot Water Crust Crust: 1 c. lard, melted 5-1/2 c. all-purpose unbleached flour 2 t. salt 2 t. sugar 2 c. hot water (you might need to add tablespoons until dough is easily pliable) 1 T. heavy cream (to glaze the pie lid before baking)

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There is one word for this dough and that is “indestructible.” Seriously. You cannot overwork it, but you could burn yourself if you aren’t paying attention, so be careful – you’re adding hot water and melted lard to flour and it’s easy to forget and plunge a hand into the dough. Do not do this! Melt the lard, whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl, add the hot water, stir, add the melted lard, mix well and form the dough into a ball, wrap it in cellophane and chill it for at least 40 minutes. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it’s a soft, warm, greasy, pliable lump. Roll it out to the thickness of two stacked toonies, grease a deep springform pan and press the dough into the pan, making sure to smooth out any folds in the dough and leaving about half an inch of overhang or more. Make sure there are no holes in the dough. Chill for about 30 minutes. Keep the trimmings for the pie lid, which will be rolled out just before baking the pie. Filling: Traditionally this is a pork pie. If you want to stay classic, this is it. 6 strips smoked bacon 1 onion, diced 2 seeded long sweet red peppers, diced 1 stalk celery, diced 2 carrots, diced 1/2 lb. pork sausage meat 1-1/2 lbs. of pork (preferably shoulder but not ham), cut into 1-inch cubes 1 t. smoked paprika 1/2 t. ground cloves 2 peeled, sliced persimmons soaked in gin (optional) salt and pepper to taste


Cut bacon into lardons (sticks about the width of two matchsticks) and cook until crisp in a frypan. Remove and set aside. Add the onion, peppers, celery and carrots to the bacon fat and sauté until soft. Add the sausage meat and pork to the frying pan, give a stir, add in spices and cook until fragrant. Spoon about two thirds of the mixture into the chilled pie crust. If you’re using them, drain the persimmons, make one layer and cover them with the remainder of the filling mix. Roll out a thin lid, dampen the edges of the dough and crimp the lid onto the overhang, making sure you’ve got a good seal. You don’t want your pie to leak. Glaze the pie lid with the cream and cut a small vent in the middle. You can continue to glaze the pie during cooking for a beautiful shine. Pre-heat your oven to 375°F and cook the pie for at least 2-1/2 hours. The internal temperature should be at least 175°F and all visible pastry is cooked. Check regularly and if it’s over-browning cover the lid with foil. My oven has a hot side, which requires turning the pie for even cooking and you might have to do the same. When your pie is done, let it cool completely and release the springform. It’s also simple to bake in the evening and, after cooling sufficiently, popping it in the fridge for the next night’s dinner. Trouble Shooting: • I’ve accidentally created a fizzing, crackling flour bomb by pouring hot water into the hot lard. It’s surrounded by flour and a quick stir will solve the problem and your dough will still be fine but it makes a mess. • If you use commercial blocks of lard, cut them in half to make sure there are no air pockets that will throw your measurements off. • If your dough starts to crack when you’re rolling it out, squeeze it into a ball and add water, a tablespoon at a time until it’s the right consistency. Be sure to roll it thinly, this is a hardy dough that will resist efforts to flatten it out. But unless you want your beautiful ingredients encased in a leaden, lardy tomb, it’s worth the effort. • One more thing – persimmons. Husband Ribsy wanted to know what you did with them and wasn’t keen on the idea of them in a pork pie. He was right! They didn’t add anything other then texture which wasn’t great. If dinner is going to be weird there are better ways to make that happen.

City Palate March April 2018  

The Flavour of Calgary’s Food Scene - The Travel Issue

City Palate March April 2018  

The Flavour of Calgary’s Food Scene - The Travel Issue