I was not looking forward to this bake. Something about meat in pastry doesn’t generally appeal to me. I think it might be an experience thing. We were never really exposed to meat pies or pasties and as most things go in the life you stick to what you know. So if nothing else this blog is getting me away from what I know.
So reluctantly I started assembling my ingredients. I knew if we were gong to enjoy these pies though I needed to take some liberties with the filling. First of all quail eggs were not going to happen. I mean where do you get those things. Nope, a regular chicken egg quartered would have to do. Next, pork loin, well I opted for something with a touch more flavour – hot Italian sausage. And finally gelatin, Paul gave me an out, the recipe said it was optional so I took the option. No chicken jello for me.
I prepped the filling the day before and set about taking down the hot water crust pastry. When rewatching this technical challenge one statement stood out to me. Paul’s ominous voice described this type of pastry as so challenging professional pastry chefs avoid it. Fantastic! (In case you couldn’t tell that was sarcasm). Not only would this be difficult it was also going to be weird. Adding boling water into flour and melting lard. This is all new to me. Here goes nothing.
The process was OK. I mixed my flour and butter and boiled the water. The lard melted pretty quickly. Leaving behind a film of fat on the top of the water. Yum!
Mixing the liquid into the dry was not a nice experience. It started out soupy and slimy.
But eventually, I got a warm lump of pastry. The dough reminded me of a play dough my Grandma used to make for us with salt and flour. I remember sneaking a taste of that, and it wasn’t good. Hopefully, the resemblance is only in the texture.
I worked as fast as I could and rolled out my dough. With no 6 inch cutter, I came up with a genius (if I do say so myself) system of using the bottom of a plate to make an imprint the right size and cutting that out. It worked perfectly. And in no time I had 6 pastry-lined muffin cups. The lids were a race against the clock though. The once pliable dough was getting tough and not very forgiving. The other problem was that the six-inch circles that I used to line the muffin tin had used up almost all my pastry. I was trying to manipulate the ever hardening scraps into 6 lids. I had some paper thin lids when it was all said and done.
With the pastry sorted I set about filling my pies. I am embarrassed to say this was my first experience boiling an egg. I actually had to google how to make hard boiled eggs. As someone who eats eggs almost every day, this was especially bad. I can happily report that my egg boiling was a success and I had my improvised pie centre. In they went.
I buried my egg quarters and began affixing the lids. I had grand visions of crimped edges and a beautiful consistent finish.
I’m pretty sure I nailed it.
Oh well, thankfully this is a learning process and Paul and Mary won’t be coming round to examine my pies. Although a there were a few more canyons and crevices than I wanted I went ahead and applied the egg wash and put them in to bake.
I set my timer for 20 minutes so I could check on the pies part way through baking. And it’s a good thing I did. My ingredient swap for sausage, while hopefully more flavorful, was a lot more greasy. I had to use the handy little steam holes in the top of the pies to dump out pork fat at the half way mark. Whoops. Oh well, no harm done so they went back in the oven to finish baking. And after the final 20 minutes, and a second grease dump, my pies were done.
I was still sceptical about the flavour but I had nothing else made for dinner so we dove it. They were really good! The pastry was much better than the pasty pastry. It was kind of flakey and crumbly at the same time. I have no idea if that was the intention but it worked. We weren’t sad not to have the gelatine, and I honestly don’t know that it would have added much to the pie and for watching the show it seemed like way more trouble than it was worth. So all in all I think I could get onboard with this whole meat pie thing. Especially if it includes bacon.