We’ve spoken about the history of the pork pie before, but we just find it so interesting and wanted to share it with you!
The first recorded recipe of the pork pie goes back to 1390. We always knew that pork pies are food fit for a king and this confirms it! It was in King Richard II’s royal kitchen that first recorded the recipe. Richard became the king when he was only ten years old in 1377. His older brother had died when Richard was only three which made him the heir to the throne after their father.
Richard’s legacy was largely tarnished by Shakespeare’s representation of the King which gives the impression he was irresponsible and cruel. Since Richard II was a creative work however, it’s important it’s remembered as such. It didn’t necessarily reflect the King’s true personality.
Like many dishes that have roots in the Middle Ages, there’s usually a reason for their creation and recipe. Such as the pork pie’s creation to preserve the meat. Since there was no fridge to pop the meat in, they needed to keep the meat fresh and edible for longer. From salting to curing and air drying, the methods kept the meat fresh and safe to eat for longer. The hot water crust around the pastry was made from boiling salted water and lard, tipped into flour and then mixed and moulded. This was then filled with the meat, sealed and cooked.
The pies were moulded and shaped around a jam jar or a traditional pie dolly. Once formed, it was removed and then filled. The hole in the top of the pastry was left so that clarified butter could be poured in which would then solidify when cooled which created a seal on the meat to keep it fresher. The methods of preservation are impressive and we’re so glad they created such a delicious recipe. The basis of recipes are always much more enjoyable when we see how much the recipes are amended whilst keeping in mind that so many recipes have their origins in not only tradition but also practicality.
We now eat pork pies because they’re ultimately really delicious. Things have changed within the recipe though. For example, we no longer use clarified butter but instead a rich stock which sets into a jelly. This is used because meat shrinks as it cooks and so it ensures the pie is full but also, adds a rich flavour.
We’ve been baking pork pies since 1928 in the Vale of Mowbray in North Yorkshire. It’s been 91 years that we’ve been baking pork pies and we really have perfected that perfect golden brown bake. What started out in a famous King’s kitchen is now stocked on supermarket shelves near you! To find your closest Vale of Mowbray pork pie, check out our pie locator!