Pork & Fennel Pie.
Ah, the Queen’s birthday long weekend. Sweet, gloomy, rainy long weekend. Perfect for knitting, movie watching, reading, tea drinking, caramel tim tam eating and general cosyness.
And perfect, too, for baking pie.
I got the idea for this pie a few days ago, when a couple of us were talking at work about our favourite pork and fennel sausage rolls from the Bourke Street Bakery, the ones against which all others are compared. Have you had them? They’re a little bit too good, a little bit too addictive. They even say in their book that people have asked them if they contain narcotics. I don’t have the book – it’s on the wishlist – but I have turned to that recipe many a time while browsing in bookstores, and this week someone gave me a copy of the recipe that a friend of a friend of theirs had sneakily taken in a bookstore with their iphone. Yes, the sausage rolls are that good.
Anyway, thought I, surely these flavours would work just as well in a pie? So I set out in search but oddly found there is a definite lack of pork and fennel casserole recipes out there – plenty of roasts, to be sure – but nothing that would do well as a pie filling. So I read 10 or so recipes featuring the pork and fennel combo, headed to the butcher and the market, and then I got into the kitchen and played.
Playing is good.
Week 1 ::: Spiced Sweet Potato, Savoy & Egg Pie.
Pork & Fennel Pie.
Shortcrust Pastry ::: Adapted from ::: The Simplest Shortcrust Pastry ::: The Really Useful Cookbook by David Herbert.
Prep ::: 30 mins, plus refrigeration time
Cooking ::: 3 hours 20 mins
Serves ::: 4, with enough casserole filling remaining for 2 lunches
350g plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp fennel seeds, toasted, crushed
175g butter, chilled, diced
about 100ml water, chilled
1.5kg boneless shoulder of pork
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large fennel bulb, finely sliced
1 carrot, chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
2 tsp fennel seeds, toasted, crushed
1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted, crushed
1L vegetable stock
2 medium potatoes, diced
salt and freshly ground pepper, to season
1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Brown pork, in batches, then set aside. Add onion, garlic, fennel, carrot, celery and butter to pan. Cook for 5 mins, or until beginning to soften. Add fennel and coriander seeds and cook for a further 2 mins. Return pork to pan and pour over vegetable stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours. Add potato, increase heat to medium, and cook, uncovered, for a further 30 mins or until potatoes are cooked and liquid is almost completely reduced and casserole is thick. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool for 30 mins, then refrigerate for 2 hours, or until cold.
2. Meanwhile, make the pastry. Sift flour and salt into a large bowl. Add fennel seeds. Using your fingertips (which are preferably chilly), rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Using a fork, stir in enough water to make the pastry clump together, adding a tiny bit more water if there is still dry flour in the bowl. Gather the dough into a ball (but don’t knead). Shape into a disc, and refrigerate for 30 mins, or until required.
3. Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease a 20cm pie dish with butter. Roll out half the pastry between 2 pieces of baking paper and line the pie plate. Spoon filling into the dish (there will be filling left over). Roll out remaining pastry, then cover the pie. Trim edges and pinch together to seal. Roll out pastry trimmings and make a decoration for the pie top. Brush pastry with milk. Using a sharp knife, make a hole in the centre. Bake for 45-50 mins or until pastry is crisp and golden. Serve with tomato sauce.