It’s fitting that I live in Cincinnati, a town which once went by the nickname “Porkopolis.” I like me some pork! And this city once was known as the chief pork processing center of the United States, thanks to our location along the Ohio River and our proximity to good farmland.
There are a number of ways to prepare “the other white meat” but this recipe is among my favorites because… it’s old. And English.
According to Time Travel Britain.com, the first recorded recipe for a pork pie was in 1390, made for the court of King Richard II. Most pork pies in Britain contain only pork and are modeled on the famous pork pies of Melton Mowbray. Melton Mowbray was the first town to commercially produce pork pies in England. But an older version of the pork pie originating from Cheshire consists of layers of apple and pork, sweetened with sugar. And that’s the kind I like!
This recipe comes from “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy” by Hannah Glass, published in 1747. Here is her version.
• Take a loin of pork
• Skin it and cut it into steaks
• Season with salt, nutmeg and pepper
• Make a good crust
• Place in it a layer of pork
• Add a layer of pippins pared and cored, and quartered
• Add a little sugar to sweeten the pie
• Then add another layer of pork
• Put in ½ pint of white wine
• Lay some butter on top and close your pie
• If your pie be large, it will take a pint of white wine
First, a few points of clarification. Pippins are a variety of apple. I’m not a big fan of being specific about such things unless it is necessary, and for the most part, it is not in this case. Just use whatever cut of pork and whatever apple you have in the house. I’ve also done this pie with pears-or a combination of apples and pears.
The first time I tried this dish, I followed it as closely as I could. It turned out runny and the bottom crust was not cooked. I have decided to eliminate the bottom crust and reduce the amount of liquid in the pie. Here is my version. It makes enough for four servings:
• 4 boneless pork chops, cut into small pieces
• ¼ teaspoon pepper
• 4 turns of the salt grinder or 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon nutmeg
• 4 apples, cored, peeled and chopped into pieces (you can also substitute pears if you wish, or do half apples and half pears)
• 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• ½ cup white wine
• 2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
• Pie crust (see below for easy recipe)
Place cut up pork in a bowl. Sprinkle pepper, salt and nutmeg over meat and mix with wooden spoon, until the spices cover all the meat.
Turn pork into greased pie dish. Cover with the apples. In a ramekin, mix the cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over the apples.
Add the wine (if you don’t have wine, you can use apple juice). Dot the top with butter.
To make an easy pie crust, cut 3 tablespoons shortening into one cup of flour until it looks crumbly. Add 6 tablespoons cold water and mix, then turn out onto floured surface and roll. Place pie crust over top of mixture. Poke holes with fork to ventilate.
Put the pie onto a pizza sheet to catch any liquid that might bubble over and bake in a 375 degree oven for 50 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the liquid is bubbly. Let sit 5-10 minutes before cutting.