A Pork Pie with a Standing Crust

Jonathan Townsend

Posted on February 10 2013

A Pork Pie With A Standing Crust

In a previous post, I presented three common types of pastry crust used in the 18th century: the standing crust, the puff paste, and the short paste. These are fairly broad categories of crusts, and recipes for numerous variations for each have been published across the spectrum of 18th century cookbooks.

In the video above, Jon uses one variation of the standing crust to make a pork pie. It uses rendered suet for it’s fat ingredient.

The pork pie recipe we used is from Maria Eliza Rundel’s 1807 book, “A New System of Domestic Cookery.”

Rundel’s recipe is for a larger standing pie. She recommends baking it in a slow oven because of the amount and density of the meat filling.

The final addition of a lear or a gelatin gravy (omitted in Rundel’s recipe) is based on the very common 18th century practice of adding gravies, i.e., broths, caudles (thickened broths), or gelatin gravies, to pies after they are baked.

Also contrary to Rundel’s recipe, we made our pies individual-serving size. There are many period cookbooks that suggest such meat pies can be made large or small. We’ve down-sized the recipe below to make two of these smaller versions.

Rundel’s recipe may be an ancestral version of the modern traditional Melton-Mowbray pies that are still very popular in portions of the U.K. today. Regardless of whether the Melton-mowbray pie can be traced specifically to this recipe or not,  it is easy to conclude that the famed pies have roots which date back to at least the late 18th century.

Meat Pies were not constrained to standing crusts. Puff pastes or even short crusts can be used as well.  Richard Briggs in his 1788 cookbook, “The English Art of Cookery,” when speaking of a wide variety of meat pies, suggests this:

The most fascinating aspect of our experiments with standing crusts was the differences we noticed in the effects that various types of fat had on the crust. Butter, lard, and muscle fat (what is commonly referred to in period books as “drippings”) do not set up solid at room temperature as suet does. Consequently, standing crusts made with these fats or any combination of them can be worked even when cold. Crusts made with suet, however, must be work when the dough is hot. The moment the dough cools down, any attempt to work it will cause it to crack.

By the way, if you’re concerned about using suet and whether it may contribute a meaty flavor to your crust, it is my experience that properly rendered suet imparts the least amount of flavor to a crust than any of the other fats.

So here are the ingredients we used, proportioned for two generously-portioned individual-serving pork pies (two people can easily be filled with one of these pies, however, you may find yourself somewhat unwilling to share). The video at the beginning of this post will explain the directions.

For the Crust:

2-1/2c flour
6T rendered suet
1/2c plus 2T water
1/2t salt
1 egg  plus 1t Water, beaten, for egg wash

Be sure to watch the video below on how to form a small standing crust. We used a drinking glass for our a mold, however, pie dollies are available on line. If you choose to use rendered suet instead of the lard/butter combination we used in the video, be sure to form your crusts while the dough is hot. If the dough grows too cold to work, microwave the dough for a few seconds or cover the dough and set it near the fire.

For the Filling:

1 Pound Pork Shoulder, trimmed of fat and silver skin, and coarsely chopped
1/2 t Salt
1 t Black Pepper, ground

For the Lear (Gelatin Gravy)

Option 1:
1 Pig’s foot (have it quartered by your butcher)
enough water to cover

Option 2:
2 packets of Unflavored Gelatin
1-1/2 c water

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