Photo by Donna (last minute and hectic, thank you!!!)

This article From England with Love, published last season in O magazine is near and dear to my heart.  In fact, it's my favorite published essay—an ode to my Uncle Bill and his mother's Christmas morning pork pie.  The slice here is from the one I made for tomorrow morning–not Elizabeth Morgan's but rather country pate, with dried cherries and pistachios, enclosed in the pate dough recipe, both from Charcuterie.  The story about my Uncle Bill, whom I met only twice, presages the combination of my food and cooking and becoming a writer.

Is that really white bread?  Yep.  Why?  If anyone can explain, I'd love to know.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it!  Peace to all!

I'm off till 2009.  Thank you everyone for reading and commenting.  All best wishes for a bountiful new year!


30 Wonderful responses to “My Uncle Bill–Christmas Morning”

  • Chef Robert

    Merry Christmas and a Bountiful New Year Michael! Keep up the great writing!!!

  • Natalie Sztern

    L’chaim! Joyeux Noel! Merry Christmas! Felice Navida!’s all folks. 2009 it shall be when we, again, get the pleasure of eating, I mean reading, Michael’s words.

  • procne

    That is a lovely essay.

    It reminds me of the amazing and short times I got to spend with my paternal grandmother (“Nanny”) through my teenage years. My father grew up in Warwickshire & his immediate family still lives there. We always used to get the Melton Mowbray pork pies and have them with Branston Pickle or even mango chutney.

    I will have to make my own pork pie now.

    I’m not sure about the white bread. Nanny always served soft white bread (Warburton’s — the closest in texture is probably Shoku Pan) straight from the bag and butter with *everything*. Pork pie, definitely. Fish & Chips from the shop, yes. Pulau peas, of course. Big Christmas dinner with 3 kinds of potatoes, without a doubt. Somehow, inexplicably comforting.

    Why do you have it in your picture?

  • Kate in the NW

    Peace and joy to you and yours – tomorrow and onward.

    It’s not Christmas in our house until we make “Christmas Buns” – it’s a long story of a finicky yeast bread that has never – NEVER – in 40+ years – turned out quite right. But that’s part of the hope and the joy (and humility) of the season, and a lesson in gratitude for whatever life brings us.

    May we all love and eat well this season!

  • Cameron S.

    I made 4 types of terrines yesterday, they all turned out so beautifully. I owe it all to the Charcuterie book, it has triggered buying and learning other books (Grigson, etc), and enjoy more and more things.

  • paulius

    Michael, thanks for sharing your story. My best to your family. …and if you want to try some homemade Lithuanian headcheese, a huge smoked sausage. -Huge beacause it is a stuffed pig’s stomach, and 12 different types of pickled herring, give me a shout. There is an encore performance of Lithuanian culinary delights at Easter.

  • Frank M

    I guess that’s why it’s called a ‘pork-pie hat’! Always wondered about that.
    Merry Christmas and a great 2009-looking forward to another book!

  • Sara

    White bread makes the best breakfast toast. I don’t think that’s anything to be ashamed of.

    A very merry Christmas to you and your family, Michael. See you in the new year.

  • Natalie Sztern

    Can u believe my son has asked me to make another cured salmon/lox for his New Years Eve party? I used to buy it for 20 bucks a pound…i am so honoured to be asked by my son and his friends u have no idea…what a great chanukah/xmas gift, the timing of this recipe…(u can’t see but i am tickled pink)

  • Badger

    A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all the Ruhlman family! Around here, white bread means someone ordered take-out barbecue. Which is never a bad thing.

  • carri

    At Christmas breakfast this morning I thought about your lovely article and I started to feel a little guilty that we had not really done anything all that special or traditional for our holiday meals this year…yet, it did still feel quite festive. As I reflected further… I realized that, with our busy schedules, just sitting down all together was special in and of itself! Thank You, Mr. Ruhlman, for giving us all a place to come together…Happiest of Holidays and may you have a Peaceful New Year!

  • Wilmita


    What a great tribute to your uncle; your deep feelings permeated the article. Sniff!

    We had the usual Latino roast pork Christmas Eve with all the trimmings.

    The closest I have been to a true Porkpie is the style of hat I wear, and I am sure the porkpie it the picture would suit me as well as my hat does.

    Please post the recipe or a link to it.

    A Healthy and Prosperous New Year to you and family!

  • pdkaizer


    This seems like an appropriate time to thank you for all your culinary writing. It has had been a true pleasure to read and has had a big impact on my appreciation of the culinary arts.

    My fiancee and I are getting married today and tomorrow head out to California where amongst other things we have a dinner reservation at The French Laundry. It has always been a dream of mine to eat there since I read your book “The Soul of a Chef”

    May the new year bring you and your family many good things and Thank you again for all your words…

    Peter Kaizer

  • Shelley

    MC & HNY, Michael!

    My collection of Ruhlman books started my obsession with reading about chefs, cooking, and food. How bad is it? Someone gave me Escoffier for Christmas!

    Happy blogging (and tweeting?) in 2009… 🙂

  • Brian

    fantastic post to close 2008 with! Guess what I’m making for the wife and myself on new years day 😉

    Cheers, and thanks for a great 2008 wort of blog readin, looking forward to that 2009.


  • swillmonkey

    The pork pie looks great, but that Bloody Mary even better! Here’s to more Bloody Marys in 2009!

  • luis

    There he goes again,… I got the Kitchen Aid meatgrinder attchs… the sausage thingys… and all the ingredients to make this insane meal in my fridge. ALLLLLLL!
    Who woulda thunk it? Pork Pie?, Pork Tart, Pork Turnover, ….. pork Pizza.. Pork Calzoni… Up to my elbows in Pork this time of the year… Forgive me again Michael but I want to work on this!…. Your pork looks rather tar tar but I can fix that on mine. Now I will shut up about it!.

  • luis

    My first pork pie attempt is done!. Good looking pie.

    Used Charcuterie’s recipe but I ground the pork (not chopped it) in the kitchen aid and added 1/2 a cup of bread crumbs and a cup of water to the meat and browned it and reduced it all on the cast iron wok.

    It of course looked more like meatloaf than the picture Michael posted above.

    I like the least amount of pie crust, so I eased the pork into a store bought 1/2 pie shell and topped it with Alton Brown’s meatloaf glaze. I’ll use sweet plantains thinly sliced and precooked next time.

  • Alex

    First time visitor to your blog and delighted I’ve found it! All the best for 2009 and looking forward to reading much more over the coming year.