These British-styled picnic pies put me in mind of a Wind in the Willows repast with loyal Moley, adventurous Ratty and the always intractable Toad. Both elegant and transportable, the pies are perfect for your picnic hamper, or impressive to set out with sharp aged cheddar, whole grain mustard and pickles at your next party. Filled with minced ham, pork tenderloin, sage and parsley, they are packed with flavor
The pies do take time to make, but keep well, so I prepare them ahead of time. You can space things out to fit your schedule, preparing the filling and stock one day, and then baking the pies the next. I use bone-in ham to make these (the bone for the stock; the ham minced in the pie.) If you’re not familiar with a traditional hot water crust: It’s easier to make (and more forgiving) than a pie crust, and goes back to early medieval times. But while 6th century hot water crusts were made with lard and intended primarily as casings to be discarded in favor of the tender meat inside, my crusts are made with butter and bacon fat and while sturdy, taste great. This recipe makes six individual 3 ½-inch pies. (Or, you can do 3 of the little pies and one small rectangular loaf as I have done in the lead photo.)
As each pie bakes, the meat pulls away a bit from the sides of the crust, leaving a little air pocket surround. To seal this, you’ll pour the hot stock you’ve made into to the vent hole at the top. As the stock chills, it will firm up into a sparkling jellied aspic that adds flavor and helps the pie keep longer.And if you are a savory pie fan, try our Melton-Mowbray styled British Pork Pies next!