Pork Pie

English Pork Pie/photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

I’ve published this photo and this link in the past but it bears reposting, especially as today I will begin the annual Christmas morning pork pie and think about my Uncle Bill. From England with Love, published a few years ago in O magazine, is not only an ode to my Uncle Bill and his mother’s Christmas morning pork pie, it’s also about my beginnings as a writer about food and cooking, a time when I’d never heard the term forcemeat and had no idea what an emulsion was.

The slice above is not the recipe Bill’s mom, Elizabeth Morgan, used, but rather a country pâté, with dried cherries and pistachios, enclosed in the pate dough recipe, both from Charcuterie.  I think I will do this year’s version in a terrine mold.  My 15-year-old is off being a 15-year-old, but James is around to help me grind the pork and roll out the dough. And I’ll tell him anew about the man in Santa Barbara who, through letters, held my shoulders from behind and pointed me in a new direction.


23 Wonderful responses to “English Pork Pie”

  • JerseyGirl

    Amazing…I have actually been looking for a recipe for Pork Pie…thank you!

  • Susan

    That piece of pie looks tantilizing! I’d never heard of English Pork Pie. I’ll have to research.

  • Jamie

    Thank you, Michael, for a sweet and humbling story! I have a similar history with my husband’s grandmother and her fruitcake. Every year, amist the hell of the holidays, I wonder if it is worth it to schlep through fruitcake making process, and then I remember (with some well-deserved shame) that Lillian did this from the Depression through the Reagan years, with four kids (and then tens of grandkids) tugging at her apron, to create a bona fide family tradition. Merry Christmas!

  • Ian

    Wow, I had never heard of Enlgish pork pie. My mothers french-canadian family has always done a pork pie (tourtier) around the holidays that included onions, potatoes, cloves, and cinnamon. I wonder how much fuss there would be if I tried to make an Enlgish version?

    • Mantonat

      He could still be Ruhlman’s uncle without being Ruhlman’s grandmother’s son.

  • Lyndsay the Kitchen Witch

    I loved this and loved the story. In Quebec it’s a Christmas tradition to make tourtieres. I lived there in my early twenties and one lonely Christmas a wonderful family took me in and shared a lovely cinnamon and nutmeg spiced pork pie with me. To this day I make the same recipe every year on Christmas eve and think of them with much gratitude and fondness.

  • Natalie Sztern

    I would like to comment on the pie but I think the ode to Uncle Bill outshines anything else you had to say….altho the pie looks very good. Me thinks James will take a step in his fathers shoes…

  • Rhonda

    The pie that inspired a hat!

    Go James!

    Thank you to Michael’s “Uncle Bill”. May a bit of his spirit live in all of us.

    Happy Holidays everyone!!!!!

  • Jay

    C’mon on!! You wrote that last clause in the last sentence on purpose!!! Too easy; I can’t even make the joke!

  • Abigail Blake

    I was introduced to pork pie on my first trip to visit the English in-laws and have loved it ever since. Never made my own because the ones at the butcher’s shop were so fantastic and never thought to eat it for breakfast. But it’s on my top 10 list of favorite picnic foods, served cold with a little English mustard and a pickle or two.

  • Lisa

    I have had pork pies in England and they do vary. Some are like porky heavy and some not-so-much but I keep trying. Thanks.

  • Jason Sandeman

    Michael, have you heard of Quebec’s tourtiere? It is similar to the english pork pie but with different spices. I have gone grain free, so I’ll just eat it terrine-style without the crust. Good times!

  • Dave Lenweaver

    Michael, My wife and I visited the Midlands many times in the mid to late 90s and became very familiar with the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie. We were working for the Stilton Cheese Maker’s Association and were often told we needed to sample a pork pie, comments totally unnecessary as we had done so on many occasions. Thanks for the article and bringing back those memories.

  • emilia

    Thinking it is time to make pork pie. It is on the list to make for the new year. Plus, mini mince-meat pies!

  • Tim

    While not exactly the same, I have a Chicken Galantine tucked away in the fridge for Christmas tomorrow. The recipe is from Charcuterie of course. Mr. Ruhlman thank you for helping start a new tradition in my house.

    Merry Christmas!

  • Brian Shaw

    OMG… Do they ever look good! In all of the excitement I completely forgot to make pork pie for Chistmas. Honestly though, I thought it was a completely Canadain tradition. Silly me!

    For my birthday (February) I will be making BOTH pork pie and butter tarts as a penance.

  • Helen

    That could not be further from an English pork pie. An English pork pie has seasoned pork meat as a filling, a hot water crust as pastry and jelly made from stock.


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