Although pork pies are something I never buy during our weekly shop, with our household being largely vegetarian, I still have fond memories of pork pie pastry. So because of this, I decided it would make a nice change to make a vegetarian version of a 'pork pie'.
The pastry surrounding pork pies, as I'm sure you may know, is called hot water crust. It's actually a pastry that I've NEVER made before. But having read about it, I realised that the actual pastry making method is not that difficult. So I thought I'd give it a whirl. Traditionally pork pies are made by 'hand-raising' them around a 'dolly'. A 'dolly' is a cylindrical wooden block, the pastry being moulded around it. So although pork pies are traditionally made in this way, I veered away from this method (call me chicken!) and simply used dariole moulds to actually hold the pastry whilst they chilled and cooked.
The making of the pastry was straight forward being no more complex than a regular short-crust pastry. If you're not familiar with making hot water crust pastry, as I was, have a look at my 'A Guide to Making...Pastry' section where I've outlined the process. The only part which was slightly fiddly was lining the dariole moulds with the pastry without disturbing the greaseproof strips (which I used to help remove the pies once baked). But, please don't let that put you off trying this pastry. It truly wasn't difficult. As the pastry seems quite robust, it didn't suffer from that bit of extra handling.
As for the filling, I realised I needed to use a meat substitute which gave 'body' to the pie filling. So here I chose Quorn chicken style pieces. I gave them a partial cook and browning in the frying pan, the cooking obviously being completed in the oven. With it, I added chopped sautéed mushroom, sweetcorn, and chargrilled orange pepper for it's colour and sweetness.. Clearly there is a whole host of items you could use in your version of the 'vegetarian pork pie'
Mr E & I made four of these little beauties. Yes, they most certainly were beauties - they tasted divine and the pastry was as scrummy as I remembered (even though I used TREX as a vegetarian substitute for lard). Mr E & I thoroughly enjoyed ours with new potatoes and salad, whilst my parents who enjoyed the remaining two ate theirs warmed through with baked beans! They were still talking about them a few days later, so clearly they were a big hit with them also. I was actually pleasantly surprised that the pies warmed through successfully without the vegetarian jelly turning back to liquid. Obviously, you could also make these beauties for a picnic now that the weather is turning a little nicer or for a buffet. I can imagine something like a tomato chutney, like the one I made here being particularly yummy with them.
Regarding the jelly. Clearly pork pies are traditionally made with gelatine, but being a meat based product I used an alternative. I had some Asda vegetarian gel in the cupboard so used this with a vegetable oxo to make my stock. Now, it appears that this particular product is no longer available at Asda (why, because it's so useful?), but there are other vegetarian products out there to use as an alternative to gelatine, such as this one by Dr Oetker. I find the vegetarian jellies set quickly, so make this just before you're ready to pour it into the pie moulds after baking. It took our pies about an hour & half to set completely.
This recipe has been shared on:
- Tinned Tomatoes 'Meat Free Mondays'.
- #Cook Blog Share15 feature hosted by Patisserie Makes Perfect and Supergolden Bakes.
- Create Link Inspire, Hosted by Nap-Time Creations.
- Fabulous Foodie Fridays hosted by Lucy at Bake Play Smile.
So, let's get to it and make vegetarian 'pork pies'!
Vegetarian Pork Pies Yum
Cost: £2.80. That's 70p per pie.
Difficulty: Easy - moderate
Time: about 25 minutes making, 20 minutes resting time, plus 40-45 minutes baking time, and cooling time.
You will need
For the Hot Water Crust Pastry
4 dariole moulds (ours hold 6 fl/oz /160ml)
150g plain flour
30g strong white bread flour
37g butter, chilled
75ml boiling water
pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten to glaze.
For the Filling
Vegetable oil / sunflower oil
130g Quorn chicken pieces
3 medium sized mushrooms, chopped
40g canned sweetcorn
1 orange pepper
1 tsp thyme leaves, chopped
1 vegetable oxo cube
1 sachet vegetarian gel
How to make them:
1. Place one of your dariole moulds upside down on a piece of paper . Draw around the rim and cut out the circle. This will act as a guide for the size of the 'Vegetarian Pork Pie' lids.
2. Using greaseproof paper, cut 4 strips of paper about 5mm wide and 38-40 long. Cut the strips in half. Using two strips per dariole mould sit them into the mould so that the greaseproof paper crosses in the base and comes up the sides. These strips will act as handles to lift the pork pies from their moulds, once cooked.
3. Make the pastry. For details of how to do this, have a look at my 'A Guide to Making...Pastry' page.
4. Once made, divide the pastry into 5 roughly equal pieces, 1 being for the lids. Cover 4 of the pieces with cling film.
5. On a lightly floured work surface, partially roll out the pastry and then ease it into the mould. Use your thumbs to ease the pastry up the sides of the mould. Do ensure that the pastry doesn't break and develop holes. If it does, patch the hole. Place into the fridge to chill. Repeat with the remaining 3 dariole moulds.
6. Roll the final piece of pastry out on a lightly floured work surface, 4 lids will need to be made out of this piece. Lay the paper circle on top of the pastry and with a sharp knife cut around the stencil carefully. Place each 'lid' onto a plate and place in the fridge to chill.
7. Make the filling. Place a little oil into a frying pan, heat over a gentle flame and cook your quorn pieces for about 12 - 15 minutes until nicely coloured. Add the chopped mushrooms and continue cooking for a further 2-3 minutes. Decant into a mixing bowl. Add the sweetcorn, seasoning & thyme leaves. Mix together.
8. Meanwhile, char the pepper with either a cook's blowtorch or gas flame on the cooker. Do be careful doing this. Once charred, wrap the pepper in cling-film. When cooled unwrap the pepper and peel off the chargrilled skin, rinse under a running tap. De-seed the pepper and chop the flesh. Add to the bowl and mix again. Allow the filling to cool.
9. Pre-heat the oven to 200c / Fan 190c / Gas 6.
10. Remove the chilled pastry moulds from the fridge. Slowly and carefully fill the pies with the filling, trying not to leave any air pockets.
11. Trim off any excess pastry with a sharp knife. Place the lids on top of the pies and carefully seal them with your thumb and two forefingers. With a sharp knife cut a small whole in the top of the lid. This will be where the stock is poured into the pie once cooked.
12. Using a pastry brush, paint the pastry lids with the beaten egg. Try not to get any egg on to the moulds, as this may 'glue' the pies to the mould & prevent them from turning out successfully.
12. Place the dariole moulds on to a baking tray. Pop into the oven and cook for about 40 minutes. Turn the tray round after 30 minutes.
13. Once your pies are cooked through and golden brown remove from the oven and place on a cooling tray. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Using the greaseproof paper handles, carefully lift your 'vegetarian pork pies' from the moulds and place directly onto the cooling rack.
14. Make your stock. Crumble your stock cube into a measuring jug. Add your vegetarian gel and make as per the gelling agent instructions.
15. Once your stock is made, use either a funnel or measuring jug with a spout, very carefully pour your stock into the pie moulds through the hole you made in the lid. Do this slowly. Allow it to settle adding more if necessary.
16. Set the pies aside to allow them to finish cooling and the stock to set before serving. This will take about 1.5 to 2 hours.