Pork Pie: The Legendary Hot or Cold Meat Pie

A pork pie
Pie! Thanks to BBC Good Food for the image.

Remember the butter pie? Well, here’s a more legendary foodstuff. The pork pie! It’s about as ubiquitous with pies as cheese is with dairy.

Think of the Wigan kebab (pie barm), but this is the real deal.

About as English as it gets, you’ll find this thing all over the country. If it disappeared, British life would grind to a gelatinous stop. Here’s why!

What’s a Pork Pie?

It’s a traditional English meat pie, consisting of pork as a filling with a jellied pork stock layer around that, followed by the pastry crust.

The pork pie is dry to consume and quite stodgy. The pastry is tough to munch through and the rest of it just as hearty.

In short, it’s a proper pie for PROPER men! This’ll put hair on your eyebrows, for sure.

People can eat them hot or cold. But usually only as a snack, it’s not something you’d have as your dinner. Why? Because… tradition.

What’s the History of the Pork Pie?

The pork pie hails from the days of medieval chefs, who’d bake up a meat pie with dense hot water crust pastry.

That tactic would help preserve the meat filling for longer.

However, in the past the pies were often sweetened with fruit. Kind of like how mince pies are these days.

The first sign of a proto-pork pie recipe emerged in The Forme of Cury. That’s one of the earliest known cookbooks from circa 1390.

That recipe is called the Mylates of Pork. However, that thing adds cheese and eggs to the pork mix. Like it’s a scotch egg, or something! The novelty! And in the 18th century a descendant of that recipe became the battalia pie.

That means, really, you’d have to say that recipe is more quiche than pie.

But the very basis of what would emerge was there, which over the following centuries crafted into the Pig Pye from the 14th century.

In the 17th century, cookery writer Hannah Glasse (1708-1770) penned a work title The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy (1758).

That set the record straight! For within that tome was the Cheshire pork pie, which is as close an example to the modern example as one can get! Except this one had apples added to it (and half a pint of white wine).

It wasn’t until the 19th century that the fruit side of things began to disappear, with a more rustic and bare bones set of ingredients setting the pork pie’s final form.

Evolution at its finest!

And its popularity for centuries grew as it was a portable and tasty meal for working class scumbags.

As with other British dishes we’ve covered (such as the Bedfordshire clanger and pasty), these meals were handy for farmhands, miners, and other inferior poor people to transport around and eat.

These days the pork pie is more readily associated with burly bald men.

Particularly football fans. You’ll often see them violently stuffing pork pies into their faces when walking towards a football stadium (or during half-time). All while downing copious amounts of beer. Real men, you see!

Not like them… NAMBY PAMBY snowflakes these days, with their cauliflower cake and COMPUTER GAME and… and… social mediums!

How Do You Make a Pork Pie?

Here’s hot stuff Jamie Oliver to… oh, wait, no he’s not done any videos on this particular dish. For shame!

Anyway, for this pie you’ll need the following ingredients:

800g pork
400g pork belly
250g smoked bacon, cubed
½ tablespoon of ground mace
2 large pinches of ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon fresh of chopped sage
1 tablespoon fresh of chopped thyme
½ tablespoon of salt
1 tablespoon of ground white pepper

You’ll need pastry as well, of course. And an oven. And a home from which to do all the baking requirements. Plus, oxygen is a requirement.

Otherwise, you can just head to your nearest pie shop to buy one.

Pork Pie the Movie

In 2017, New Zealand director and writer Matt Murphy got this film together. It stars Dean O’Gorman, James Rolleston, and Ashleigh Cummings.

It’s actually a remake of the 1981 film Goodbye Pork Pie.

Critics were quite kind to the film, suggesting it’s not as bad as the initial trailer suggests. Although there aren’t any pork pies in it. False advertising!

Despite its nearly $4 million budget, it wasn’t a hit and only took back $797,693 at the global box office. Bugger.

4 comments

  1. I remember the original ‘Goodbye Pork Pie’ when it came out, it was quintessentially Kiwi. One of the reasons for its popularity was that Geoff Murphy and his production team intentionally made it a road trip from the north of the North Island to the south of the South – causing a lot of Kiwis to go just so they could see their home towns on screen. It was a ploy originally used by Rudall Heyward, a 1920s-1930s film-maker who used to make short films built around local towns for the same reason, e.g. ‘Natalie of Napier’). The iconic Mini also appeared in a Rhombus music video – I watched some of the filming in central Wellington (specifically, the scene at 1:38 in Courtenay Place where the car whips around into an alleyway). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJ4v1dRboMk

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s good to see various things here. The mini. Central Wellington. 1981 in general. And there is something great about a very well done road trip movie, I must say.

      I’ve not seen Goodbye Pork Pie, but I’ll watch that. At uni from 2003-2006 one of my friends there was from NZ and we watched a bunch of NZ films. I’ll have a go at him for not introducing this one.

      I do feel the Pork Pie remake missed a trick. Free pork pies for everyone attending. Why did they not think of that?

      Like

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