This hearty pie, packed with layers of tender herby pork, apples, caramelised onions and mustardy-sausagement is excellent served either hot or cold.
The trick with a pie such as this is to get well-defined flavours in the layers. I tend to go for a thick layer of each, so you can see the layers when you cut into it. And the best quality meat really does make a difference both flavour-wise and ethically.
When eating this cold, I highly recommend serving it with piccalilli or other chutney, cheese and good bread.
Great pork, cooked very gently
For very moist, melt-in-the-mouth pork, I use tenderloin for this, which I cook in the sous-vide machine along with some crushed garlic, sage and bay leaves for 2 hours at 60C.
I then pan-fry it very briefly over a high heat for that wonderful flavour you get on the outside.
Alternatively, you can poach the pork very gently for about 20 minutes in cider or stock, with the liquid at barely a simmer.
The sausagemeat needs to be the best quality you can get, with the highest meat content so that it does not ooze water and gunk into the pie.
Getting a crisp pastry base
As with the classic Beef Wellington, to get a crisp base, place a pancake on the base, with the layers sitting on top. I make a standard pancake batter*, adding a little mustard and some crushed fennel seeds, but a plain pancake is fine.
The pancake will absorb any of the juices from the filling, making the pancke taste wonderful while ensuring the base is crisp.
*for a quick pancake batter whisk 1 small egg, a splash of milk, seasoning, a little mustard, crushed fennel seeds and enough flour to give a thin batter.
Recipe: layered pork pithivier pie – makes one large pie
- about 600g all-butter puff pastry
- 1 pancake (see above recipe) – optional, but it prevents the base going soggy
- 3 slices of best quality smoked bacon, with the rind trimmed
- 1 egg beaten, to glaze
- 1 pork tenderloin, about 400g
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 sage leaves
- fine sea salt and freshly milled black pepper
- 1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
- a few fennel seeds, crushed
- 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 5 best quality sausages, skinned
- 1 medium cooking apple, peeled, cored and cubed
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons piccalilli or chutney of choice
- a few dried apricots, chopped
- 2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- fine sea salt
(1) Cut the pastry into two pieces, on slightly larger than the other. Roll one out to a large circle, about 9″ in diameter – make sure it fits onto the baking tray. Roll the other piece to about 12″ in diameter.
(2) Place the pancake on the smaller circle and cut around it so that it is a litlle smaller than the circle: you want about 1/2″ of pastry visible around the pancake – this will get brushed with egg and will ensure the top piece of pastry will stick. Chill until needed.
Prepare the pork layer
(3) Cut the pork into 2-3 pieces and place in sealed vacuum bags along with the fennel, garlic, sage and a little seasoning. Cook at 60C for 2 hours. This can be done a day or so in advance.
(4) Heat a pan with a little oil and add the pork, cooking on high for 1-2 minutes, turning from time to time, until a dark golden brown. Cool and chop into medium cubes and set aside until needed.
Prepare the onion layer
(5) While the pork is cooking, mix the onions, oil and salt together and place in an oven-proof dish. Put the lid on and cook in the oven at 150C (fan) for about 1 hour or until the onion has softened and has taken on some golden-brown colour. Set aside to cool.
Prepare the sausagemeat layer
(6) Mix the ingredients for the sausagemeat layer together and set aside. You can fry off a little in a pan to taste, adjusting seasoning or flavours as you want.
NB: I sometimes use some of the apple for its own layer.
Layer up the filling:
(7) This is easiest doing so in a small cling-film lined bowl, with the diameter of the rim about an inch smaller than the diameter of the smaller pastry disc. Alternatively, you can layer the filling straight onto the pancake sitting on the pastry base.
Put the filling ingredients in any order into the bowl, patting down fairly firmly each time you add a layer but without squashing. I tend to go for the following order:
- pork cubes
(8) Place the smaller disc of pastry onto a solid baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. Put the pancake on top. Brush the exposed pastry rim with beaten egg.
(9) Carefully invert the bowl containing the filling onto the centre of the smaller pastry disc and gently pull at the clingfilm to remove it from the bowl. Peel off the clingfilm. Don’t worry, the filling will hold its shape perfectly.
(10) Place the larger disc of pastry on top and gently ease it down over the filling, pressing gently where it meets the pastry base. Trim with a sharp knife and run a fork around the base to give a nice pattern.
(11) Brush all over with beaten egg and use a sharp knife to score over the pastry, taking care not to cut through to the filling.
(12) Make a hole about 1″ diameter on top and bake for 15 minutes at 200C (fan), before turning down the oven to 175C for a further 25-30 minutes. Leave for about 5-10 minutes before cutting if serving hot.