Monday, 18 November 2013

Pie failure no. 2

So I had a crack at pork pies again, this time using St Delia's recipe. She advised using a deep muffin tin, which sounded like a good idea since it gave me a chance to get used to the recipe/techniques before going to a full hand-raised pie. I dutifully cubed the pork shoulder by hand and mixed with the salt, pepper and spices. Before they went into the oven they looked like this:

Mmmm, pie

But, when they came out of the oven they looked like this (despite heavy greasing of the tin and putting a pre-heated baking sheet underneath):

The dreaded soggy bottom
So it looks like further work is required. Perhaps putting semolina in the bottom of the pie to soak up the excess juice?


Sunday, 10 November 2013

Chicken and Ham Hock Pie

This was supposed to be a post about how I'd made a brilliant chicken and ham hock pie, which I kind of did - it was a pie and it did contain chicken and ham hock - but, it wasn't a total success. The pastry sank and split during cooking so there was no way to pour in the delicious stock/jelly. It's more like chicken and ham hock in a bit of pastry, but it's delicious nonetheless.  

More holes than swiss cheese; but it is technically a pie

This all came about because I was watching Andy Bate's Street Feasts on the Food Network this past week where he made said chicken and ham hock pie. It really looked the business, so I decided to give it a go yesterday. I've never cooked ham hock before, though I've eaten in many times, mainly in Germany (Schweinshaxe) where it's roasted and typically served with sauerkraut and fried potatoes, nom! I'd also not made a hot water crust pie before, and it turns out it's something I'm going to need to practice. It's easy to make: water and lard in a pan, turn up the heat, add to flour and mix. Job done. But then you need to let it cool. And cool. And cool... I must have waited at least 40 min before the pastry became even slightly workable. Then it sank faster than the Titanic and leaked. Ho hum.

I'm not sure that I'm allowed to reproduce the recipe here, but I can put up some photos of each step that I did, including the mistakes. Maybe someone can offer me some tips on hot water crust pastry in the comments below.

Hock-y goodness
Take two ham hocks. I got these form the covered market in Oxford, 2 for £5.

Stock photo
Cook the hocks for 2-3 hours in a stock with onion, carrot, celery, peppercorns and a teaspoon of black treacle. Afterwards reserve the stock and reduce by one-third to one-half. Allow the stock to cool, this will be the jelly for the pie once it's cooked. Assuming it isn't full of holes like mine was.

Shredded hock
Shred the hocks. Mine literally fell off the bone after 3 hours of cooking. I discarded the fat and bones and gave the meat a good twist of pepper. Take your chicken and bash it between clingfilm to flatten it. Do not use your granite pastry rolling pin, it will break.

Looking good...
Then I made the pastry, which took forever to cool and become workable. Reserve one-third of the pastry to make a lid. Roll out the other two-thirds to a diameter slightly larger than the base and sides of the tin. Line your pre-greased tin with the pastry. Fill your pie with alternating layers of ham hock and chicken.
I think that I might have made the pastry too thin; I only had a 22 cm cake tin to cook the pie in, so I probably needed to make the pastry thicker to support everything. At this stage I thought the pie was looking pretty good, and I admit that I had pretty high hopes for it.

Out-of-focus broken pie
(notice the leaks at the front. And on top. And on the left etc)
After an hour or so have a look at the pie. Take the ring off and brush with beaten egg. Or in my case, swear loudly as you realise that all your hard work has disintegrated. Then carry on regardless.

Assuming you make it this far with a pie intact, well done! You are better than me. Once your pie has cooled, heat your stock and pour into the hole in the top of the pie. Allow to cool.

I hope you have more success than I do, if so let me know! I will definitely be having another go at this.