It started with a conversation in the office. Jo and Mandy were egging me on to experiment with the rest of a loin of pork I’d essentially ruined on Sunday last. With Mrs T away and only the cats to scare with my cooking, now did seem like the perfect time to try the skills that we all, undoubtedly, pick up by watching GBBO and sponsoring Greggs. A pie. What could be more seasonal than that?
I hadn’t realised that you could just buy pastry in a shop, which made we wonder what all the fuss is on the telly. What I failed to do was to ask the team exactly where in the supermarket they keep it. I picked up the essentials first (sprouts, soy sauce, nutmeg) so that I wouldn’t let the pastry get warm. I chose Tesco own brand Shortcrust. Largely on price. Game on.
Back in the office, we hadn’t settled on a sauce to suit the cold pork loin and sprouts. I eventually figured that I couldn’t just rely on the natural ooze from the meat and veg so, as usual, I made a paste from overcooking an onion with too much garlic and soy sauce. Too much soy sauce.
I paired this, my first ever pie, with ETAP: a brilliant Scottish Belgian DDH brewed with New Zealand hops. It was bright and slightly floral and I’d miscalculated how long the pie would take in the oven so I’d finished the beer with about twenty minutes to go. So I had a Carling, which was fine too.
There wasn’t much to this but, needless to say, I went out of my way to fanny with it. To my astonishment, the pastry was really good. It needed the leftover baked beans, for definite.
Do enjoy it yourself.
Pork loin and sprout pie
- One onion, any kind
- Some garlic. No: more than that
- The good dark soy sauce
- Pork of the day, basically whatever you’ve got to hand – here I’ve used the rest of Sunday’s roast
- One pack of shortcrust pastry
- Nutmeg (too much)
- Pepper (some)
- Sprouts, perhaps 800g or so – you need about 100g for the filling but you’ll want to have some to eat whilst the pie is cooking
- Baked beans for the dressing
- Get your colleagues set up on a WhatsApp group: you’re going to need their advice unless you want to look stuff up yourself
- Finely chop the onion, garlic and brutalise them in too much soy sauce. Put to one side and have a think about whether that was a good idea
- You should probably have put the sprouts on maybe five minutes ago
- Get the oven on. I tried 200 somethings (C or F or maybe K for all I know). Remember to get the stuff you normally store in the oven out before pre-heating. That’s a great idea for next time
- Get one of those enamel bowls you’ve seen your wife do food in before, and rub some oil over the surface. Just because everyone told you not to do a pie bottom does not mean you need to take that advice. You are a strong and innovative baker and you can do this. So you’d better make sure you don’t just cement dough to an otherwise reusable container, like a div
- Get the sprouts off the heat, drain them and set them to one side to dry properly. The drying process will be helped if you graze them during the remainder of the preparation
- Right: pastry – go go go!! Roll out the block, remembering that you should flour the board as well as just the rolling pin. Remember Jo said that it should be really thin. Halfway through, when you’ve had to rest some of the pastry dustbin lid on the windowsill, if not before, you’ll have a good idea that you don’t need all of the block. Cut out the bits you need and put one in the tin base. Oh yes you can
- Slice the pork removing some of the fat. You don’t need to eat that. But you will. Slice the sprouts roughly. In sequence then: onion spoodge, pork parts, sprout layer
- You need to make a decision here: you don’t need to use all the nutmeg nor all the pepper, but it would be a shame to waste them
- Top the pie. You’ll probably have got the thickness wrong so do your best to get it to stretch across the main parts of the pie. See that bit that’s stuck to the board you didn’t flour? Scrape that off with a knife and make a sort of eye-patch for the biggest of the holes. Disappoint Mandy by not having sufficient pastry left over to make a rude ornamentation. Make some slits in the lid
- You can use a milk or egg wash to glaze the lid for a lovely golden colour. You can; or you can realise that Advocaat is, essentially, the same thing, plus sugar, and that if they sussed that in the Bake Off tent, someone would be getting Prue’s vote, damn straight
- In the oven. No time to waste. By which we can agree this wasn’t a dish to start making at half eight at night
- Do the washing up then text the group to ask how long the pie they haven’t seen might take to cook. Realise that doing the washing up means that you’ve forgotten when it went in anyway
- Find the plastic tub of “some” baked beans in the fridge. Assume that your wife probably had the other half sometime close to when she went on holiday last week and anyway beans are pretty inert, I’d guess. Sniff them just in case, then microwave. Don’t bother putting them on a microwaveable plate: that’s for snowflakes
- Pause the cricket highlights and take the pie out of the oven as soon as Jo texts to ask whether the pie is “still in the oven”. Grab the beans out of the microwave. Run your hand under the cold tap for a bit
- Be, genuinely, astonished that the pie comes cleanly out of the tin and that it looks like it might have worked
- Mount the pie on a plate and dress with the beans and some brown sauce
- Photograph and post on FaceBook
- Rue the whole soy and nutmeg thing
With thanks to J & M for goading and advice
(And just because I’m still astonished that this kind of worked, here’s a picture of the pie tin that’s nearly clean…)