The great gluten-free pork pie experiment – part 1

Pork pies.  I used to love them.  My husband still does, but only when they’re well-made, which apparently most aren’t, these days.  Our son is also a fan, but rather less discriminating than his Dad, by all accounts.  And since you can’t buy them gluten-free in the shops, I’ve not eaten one in years.

I would probably have been content with occasional pining, but the new migraine drugs I’m on are doing some very odd things to my appetite at the moment and, having seen someone this morning scoffing a pork pie, I suddenly really wanted one myself.  As in really, really wanted one so badly that ignoring it wasn’t going to make the wanting go away.

So, accepting the inevitable, I thought I’d better investigate and see how one is supposed to make such things in the world of wheat, before having a bash at a gluten-free version, as I’ve never before made a pork pie.

I’ve often found the UKTV website a good starting point for recipes when I need to find something I can adapt, not least because they always seem to have several versions of the same finished product and you can get a better feel for how things will work, which is quite important for me as I can’t go making up and tasting a version with wheat flour first to use as a ‘control’ for my gluten-free experiments.  Well, not without making myself ill, anyway.

So the first recipe I looked at was Mike Robinson’s ‘proper old-fashioned pork pie’.  I certainly like the way it’s turned out in the picture, but it’s clearly not the pork pie I’m hankering after, because it’s not a raised crust.  And while I agree that a traditional pork pie relies on the flavour of the meat, rather than smothering it in herbs and other seasonings, I can work out the filling part for myself.  It’s time to move on to another recipe.

Same site, different recipe, and this one looks far more promising, not least because by this point I’ve fished out my Lorraine Pascale when I went to grab a coffee to help the search.  Ms Pascale’s method seems to agree in the main with this one for the pastry, although she omits the jellied stock, which I think is rather a shame.  Still, as she says, some people really don’t like the jelly, but I really do.  Not sure I can be bothered to trawl the East End for a pig’s trotter – living in a Muslim area has some minor drawbacks  at times like these – but I’m sure I can make a nice stock to dissolve some gelatine.

So, I have all my pastry ingredients, some pork, some pancetta (run out of bacon – oops), some gelatine and plenty of time to put together a decent stock.  Now all I need is for my glamorous 4 year old assistant to finish his nap and we can begin.

Of course, in all this, I’ve realised there is no quick fix to my craving for a pork pie.  Given that I daren’t make these without my son – he conked while I was researching recipes and is fully expecting to be part of the ‘sperimenting’ – plus the prep and cooking time, then the cooling and setting time, I won’t be wrapping myself round one of these until tomorrow at the earliest.  But that’s OK.  Since I’ve had to dig the mincer out to make the filling for the pie, we’ll be making some gluten-free sausages this afternoon as well and, believe me, there’ll be no waiting around for those 🙂

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