Homecooked filling and handmade crust are what this pork and sausage pie is all about. It’s something you make for people when you want to tell them that they’re special.
There’s this cooking show where chef Rocco DiSpirito teaches ordinary folk how to prepare special dishes. Mostly, the “ordinary folk” is a guy who wants to prepare a special dinner before proposing to his girl. Except for a snippet here and there, I don’t really watch the show as I learn very little from it but the underlying concept says a lot — for a guy about to propose marriage, an expensive restaurant meal might be impressive but a home-cooked meal is a hundred times more impressive. Why? Because it says the girl is so special that she is worth the effort of learning how to cook and actually make something special. It says that a meal lovingly prepared is an outpouring of what’s in the heart.
Okay, I won’t get more cheesy than that but you get the idea. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, you might want to pass up on that restaurant reservation and cook a special meal at home instead. My recommendation? Pea soup, goat cheese and tomato salad, this savory pork and sausage pie and, for dessert, something that can be prepared ahead of time like chocolate and coffee panna cotta.
The pork used in the pie filling can be cooked a day ahead. In fact, I recommend that you cook it a day ahead for all those wonderful flavors to get into the meat and the broth.
The pie crust can be prepared the day before too. About an hour and a half before dinner time, assemble and bake the pies. While they are in the oven, take a luxurious shower so you don’t look like an overworked cook when dinner is served.
A tip for neat-looking pies.
Measure the top of the ramekins so that you can cut the pie crust dough into pieces that would fit in snugly. I have this multi-size cutters and it’s just a matter of finding the one that fits perfectly. You can use something else though — the rim of a drinking glass or cup will do fine.
Of course, you can always cut larger circles so that you can press the edges around the rim of the ramekins to totally seal the filling. If you opt to do that, the filling will have to be cooled completely; otherwise, air pockets will form between the filling and the crust.
On the other hand, if the crust is loosely placed on top of the (still warm) filling, steam will escape along the edges of the crust and you don’t get hot air pockets.
Pork and Sausage Pie
- 3 to 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 kilogram pork hock bone-in and sliced (you can use other pork cuts but I really recommend a cut with bones)
- 1 stalk celery (with the leaves)
- 1 carrot
- 1 large onion halved
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon peppercorns
To complete the filling
For the crust
- double pie crust
- 1 egg lightly beaten
Heat 3 to 4 tbsps. of butter in a pan. Lightly brown both sides of the pork hock slices. Pour in enough water to completely cover all the pork. Add the celery, carrot, onion, garlic, peppercorns and some salt. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for an hour and a half to two hours, or until the pork is very tender. Do not be tempted to add more water as you want the broth to be highly concentrated in flavor. When the pork is done, turn off the heat and allow the pork to cool in the broth. The ideal time to boil the pork is the night before so that the pork can cool slowly overnight.
While the pork is simmering, you may also make the pie crust. Gather into a ball, wrap in cling film and keep the fridge until needed.
- When the pork has cooled (ideally, after about ten hours), lift out the meat. Strain the broth (you will need about two and a half cups). Cut the meat into one-inch cubes. Set aside.
- Peel the potatoes and carrots. Cut into cubes about the same size, or a bit smaller, than the pork. Cut the sausages similarly.
- Peel and chop the onion.
- Heat 3 tbsps. of butter in a pan. Add the potato and carrot cubes, and the sausages. Cook until the edges are lightly browned. Add the chopped onion and pork. Cook, stirring, until the onion bits soften a bit and the pork is heated through. Pour in half of the broth. Bring to the boil then cover and simmer until the vegetables are done, about five minutes.
- To the remaining broth, stir in the flour. Pour into the pork and vegetable mixture and cook over high heat, stirring, until thickened. Pour in the cream and add the remaining 3 tbsps. of butter. Stir. Cook just until bubbly. Turn off the heat. Stir in the chopped parsley. Adjust the seasonings.
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Spoon the prepared pork and sausage filling into ramekins. Leave enough space on top for the crust. Leave to cool a bit.
- Make the pie crust if you haven’t already.
- Roll out the pie crust dough and cut out circles to fit the ramekins.
- Lay the crust on top of the filling. Brush the tops of the piece crusts with the beaten egg. Using a thin pointed knife, poke holes on the crust to allow steam build up at the center to escape too. Just to be safe.
- Bake in a preheated 375F oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until the crusts are nicely browned and the filling is bubbling along the edges.
- Serve the pork and sausage pies while hot. But be careful when you eat them as the filling is very, very hot indeed.