Monday, 18 July 2011

Pork Pies & Potted Things...

Pork Pies & Potted Things by Charlotte

The al fresco dining afternoon/soiree was planned for a beautiful mid July afternoon. Everything was going well, a little too well. To spice things up the rain arrived, I cancelled the borrowing of the bbq and announced grilled food with kitchen/lounge party as the order of the day.

In keeping with my Mark Hix obsession I had two recipes from British Regional Food planned, plus some salads, Matt's homemade burgers with Fergus Henderson ketchup, plus bits and pieces that others were turning up with, such as chilli halloumi, a large Tuscan sausage, Brasilian potato salad, homemade scones and raspberry coulis and Borough red wine. Treats, so many treats.

So, my chosen Mark Hix recipes were Pork Pies and Potted Shrimp. Two absolute classic dishes that Greg Wallace would be thrilled to get his little hands on.

The pies are very simple and tasty, requiring fatty pork shoulder and pastry made with hot water and lard; intriguing, warm and as Rachael will agree, the lard is key!

Here's what Mark says about his Pork Pies -

Makes 6-8

Homemade pork pies are nothing like the ones you buy in the shops. The pastry is easy to make and if you haven't got a mincer at home on your mixing machine, you can just chop the meat up very finely by hand. A helpful butcher might mince the filling for you. All you do is take a large disc of pastry and shape it round the filling into a bulgy-sided pie, then join it to a smaller circle of pastry at the top by pinching round the edge. You could use this recipe to make two big pies, or even one very large one.

I prefer to eat the pies warm rather than cold, as that brings out the flavour and the pastry tends to be crisper. You can also add other seasonings such as anchovy essence, mace or allspice and a bit of sage to suit your taste - it's entirely up to you.

For the filling

1kg boned shoulder of pork, including 20-30 per cent fat

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the hot-water crust pastry

500g plain flour

1tsp salt

175g lard

1 egg, beaten

First prepare the filling: chop some of the best bits of pork into rough 1cm dice and mince or finely chop the rest. Season it well and mix in the diced meat. Take a small teaspoonful of the mixture and fry it to check the seasoning, then adjust it if necessary. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/gas 6.

Then make the pastry: mix the flour and the salt in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Bring 200ml water and the lard to the boil, then stir it into the flour with a wooden spoon to form a smooth dough. Leave the dough covered for about 15 minutes or so, until it can be handled.

Divide the dough into 6-8 equal pieces. Take one of the balls of dough and divide it into two balls, one twice the size of the other. Roll the larger piece on a lightly floured table to about 12-14cm in diameter. Use the smaller piece to make another circle about f half the size for the top. Put some of the filling in the centre of the larger circle, lay the smaller circle on top and raise the sides of the larger one up, then pinch the lid and the top of the sides together with your fingers. If it looks a bit of a mess, you can reshape it, as the pastry is quite pliable. Repeat with the rest of the pastry and filling.

Brush the pies all over with the beaten egg and cook them for 35-40 minutes. If they are colouring too much, cover them with foil and turn the oven down.

Serve them warm or cold, preferably with homemade piccalilli.

Next up Potted Shrimp...

Potting things is of interest to me. Its simple but exciting, several small filled ramekins giving off different aromas gets most peoples attention.

Mr. Hix, of course, did not disappoint - I came across his recipe for potted shrimp with tales of the shrimpers of the Sefton coast. I went to the fishmonger to check out the brown shrimp on offer and found them to be rather pricey. We had a chat and started talking about potting crab, which got me all excited and I ended up leaving with both shrimp and crab.

I potted them both in the same way according to the recipe and actually would have to say I enjoyed the crab rather a lot. The shrimp were good too but do have a slight maggoty look about them which most people managed to point out at some point.

Recipe as follows -

180g unsalted butter

Juice of a lemon

A good pinch of ground mace or nutmeg

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1 small bay leaf

1tsp anchovy essence or paste

210g peeled brown shrimps (or crab meat – I used a mix of brown and white)

Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Melt the butter in a pan, add the lemon juice, mace, cayenne pepper, bay leaf and anchovy essence and simmer on a low heat for 2 minutes to infuse the spices. Remove from the heat and cool the mixture until it is just warm.

Add the shrimps and stir well, then season with salt and freshly ground white pepper. Put the mixture into the fridge and stir every so often. When the butter starts to set, fill 4 ramekins with the mixture or spoon it on to plates. If you aren't serving them that day, return the ramekins to the fridge and cover with clingfilm. Don't serve the shrimps straight from the fridge, as the butter will be too hard to spread nicely on to the toast, and won't taste as good. Serve with hot buttered toast and lemon halves.


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