Mini Pork Pies

February 12, 2007

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Aren’t they cute? They look like little daisy-flower-faces, don’t they?

I’m jumping right back into blogging (yay, finally!) by being a part of February’s “Waiter, there’s something in my….” hosted by Cooksister, The Passionate Cook, and SpittoonExtra. This month’s “something” was pie. Mmmmm, P-I-E! According to the rules put forth, it could be savory, it could be sweet…but it had to be covered, the delicious contents to remain a mystery until cut, bit or broken into.

Well, I lucked out with that theme and those rules, for just that morning, I had given Kevin’s (of Seriously Good) Tourtierre a try. And as you can see:

That flaky golden crust does a great job of keeping the beef-pork-potato filling covered. So boom, I knew I had a qualifying entry no matter what.

But really, the Tourtierre is just a bonus, because February is also “Pork Fest” month (more on that in an upcoming post….!), so I knew that in the days ahead I’d be making my own Mini Pork Pies. Six dozen of them, actually! (Yes, Pork Fest is such a big event I needed to make at least that many…)

The filling is from my Grand-mère. It is the stuffing she would make for her Thanksgiving turkey, and it is simply delicious! We still have Pork Stuffing every year–some years in the bird, some years in a casserole alongside (and no, we don’t refer to it as ‘dressing’…!), some years baked into a 10-inch double crust pie–but no matter how it’s served, Thanksgiving dinner wouldn’t be complete without it. I particularly like it–in any of the three forms–with a bit of turkey gravy drizzled over top. (And how fortunate am I to have some extra turkey gravy sitting in my freezer, just waiting to be used on the four leftover mini-pies from Pork Fest. There are going to be two *really* good lunch days this week!)

So, judges, if you can ignore the one on the left that had a bit of filling bubble up through the steam vent, here is my official, savory, filling covered until eaten entry! *smile*

This is one of those dishes that was ‘learned at the elbow’, so there’s no official recipe. I tried to gage what I was doing as I went through it this time, so that I could at least outline the recipe for you. Since I was making such a large batch (6-7 pounds of pork, etc.) that these measurements are still approximate ….so feel free to adjust the seasonings to your taste. And don’t be afraid if you end up adding a lot more allspice and cinnamon–I know I’m always amazed at just how much goes into it! And the next time I make a more reasonable size batch, I promise to measure diligently and report back for any of you who are interested.

Mini Pork Pies
(Reasonably scaled back to make only about 12-18 of these little beauties depending on your muffin-tin size).

For the filling:

1 pound Ground Pork
1 Large Onion, Chopped into small dice
2 Tablespoons Ground Allspice
1 Tablespoon Ground Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
2-3 Tablespoons Flour

Place all ingredients in a large pot and add water until just barely covered. Mix everything together, bring to a boil, and then immediately lower the heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. This allows the onion to break down, the water to be absorbed/boiled off, and the correct flavor and texture to develop. Sprinkle in the flour, starting with 2 Tablespoons, (adding the third at the end if it still seems too runny), stir vigorously and cook another 15 minutes. The filling will be a bit ‘grainy’, but should “plop” nicely from a spoon. Set aside to cool before filling the pastry.

For the pastry:

3 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 cup Cold Shortening
1 teaspoon Salt
7-10 Tablespoons Ice-Cold Water
1 Egg, beaten with a teaspoon of water or cream

You can certainly use the food-processor method, or to make by hand:

In a large bowl, stir together the flour and the salt, then cut the shortening into the flour using a pastry blender or two knives, until the size of peas. Sprinkle in 4 Tablespoons of water, and mix lightly using your hands (in a sifting method) or with a fork. Add in 3 more Tablespoons of water, mix in the same fashion, then add in as much of the remaining water as needed to get the dough to hold together as it should. (This depends on temperature, humidity, etc…)

This is the pastry my mother always uses when making this into a large pie. But another great option is to use Kevin’s lard-and-butter pastry from the Tourtierre recipe. It’s flaky and fabulous, and what I used on these this go-round.

To assemble:

Roll out the dough to approx 1/8 inch thickness. Cut out larger rounds to line your muffin tins, and smaller ones for the tops of the pies. [The sizes will depend on the size of the tins you use…so do a few trial-runs using wax paper until you find the right sizes (remember you want about a 1/4 of an inch overhang on the bottom crust so that you can crimp and seal and that the top crust round should be *just* smaller than the diameter of the muffin cup) then use those as a template…]

Line the muffin cup with the larger round, spoon in the cooled filling to within a 1/4 inch from the top, put the top crust on, and crimp the overhang to seal. Be sure to cut a steam vent or two, as the filling will bubble up as it bakes and can cause your crust to burst otherwise. Brush the tops with the egg wash, then bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes– switching and rotating the pans half-way through– or until golden brown and bubbling.

(I usually do this assembly line fashion: roll out some dough, cut out all the toppers, set them aside covered. Then roll out more dough, cut out all the bottom crusts, then line all the cups, fill, cover, crimp, and wash.)

These are delicious on their own, or served alongside any beef or poultry dish–with or without gravy!

If making ahead, as I did for Pork Fest (at this point aren’t you just dying to know what Pork Fest is?! Stayed tuned–it’s worth it. I swear! *Smile*)—simply pop back into the muffins tins (to help prevent any bust-ups) and reheat in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until just warmed through.

Ok, now it’s time to go and heat up a couple of those leftover beauties and call it lunch!

Filed Under: Appetizer/Snack, Bread/Pastry, Recipe, Savory, Sides

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