with the arrival of 2016
i know i should be thinking about
goals and resolutions
and yet, as per usual,
i spend an inordinate amount of
time and brain cells
on food –
the making of it,
the consumption of it.
not the best use of my time
but i’m not too pressed about it,
it is what it is,
and when i convince dw to
join in my frivolity,
it’s all the better.
he put together this here meal,
that we shared on new year’s day,
all because i saw it on
The Great British Bake Off,
and would not shut up about
Hot Water Pastry.
we spent the morning laboring
over the dough,
dicing the pork,
shaping the pies,
and then enjoying the
remainder of the day doing nothing.
time well spent methinks.
chili + fennel seed pork pies
adapted from ruby tandoh
makes 3 4″ pies
*note: this is a dish usually served on the cold side, which honestly, weirds me out. from my understanding, when the pastry is hot, it’s greasy and the lard is all melted and not at all palatable. so we ate the pies just as they were cooling at room temp, which i felt was a good compromise. we also had sides of roasted maple carrots and an arugula salad. even though these pies were about 4″ in diameter they were hefty – we only consumed half. to reheat, dw scraped out the meat and heated it up separately in a pan. we let the pastry warm to room temp and then put the meat back in. no judgement.
75g cubed butter, firm but not chilled
300g AP flour
¼ tsp salt
400g pork shoulder, diced
150g smoked bacon
2 tsp fennel seeds, toasted and ground
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
salt, to taste
preheat oven 400F
add the butter and flour in a bowl, and crumble them together with your hands until the mixture is like breadcrumbs. add in the salt.
meanwhile, in a small pan heat the water and lard over low heat, just until the fat melts. pour the liquid over the flour mixture and stir to combine. (at first we used a wooden spoon but then went back to using our hands, but take care, it is hot). press the pastry into a ball and knead it a few times to stretch it. set aside, uncovered while you do the other steps.
in a large bowl, mix the pork shoulder, bacon and spices. use your hands. season with salt/pepper, though be mindful, the bacon is likely salty.
the pastry should be cool to the touch. fyi: hot pastry is too pliable and oily, whereas cold pastry is hard and difficult to work with. you want something in the middle (i know, could i be more vague?).
portion 2/3 of the dough, and with that, cut into 3 equal pieces. set the remaining 1/3 piece aside. take one of the 3 pieces and roll out on lightly floured counter top, aim for about 8″ diameter, you’re aiming to cover the base of the pan and pull the pastry up the sides of it as well. the dough is so forgiving, slide it into the pan and use your fingers to press into corners and up the sides. repeat for remaining 2 pans.
firmly pack the meat mixture into the pans. with the remaining 1/3 dough, cut into 3 equal pieces and roll out to about 4 1/2″. transfer to top of the pies. seal the lid and sides together as best as possible. i used a fork to press down on the sides and make a pretty design, it’s not necessary. (i also used a star cookie cutter to lightly decorate the top, but i will tell you during the bake, it puffed up and the star kinda sorta disappeared. press down hard if you want to keep the design.) stab a hole in the middle with a knife to let the steam out during baking. before pies in oven, brush with beaten egg.
bake for 15 minutes and then lower temp to 350F and bake for additional 45 min to 1 hour. you’re looking for a golden brown crust.
cool completely in the pan, on a wire rack. once cool, refrigerate until ready to serve.