Mini pork and cranberry pies (Makes: 36 – Preparation time: 1.5-2hrs)

Christmas is well and truly on its way with Christmas parties happening left, right and centre!  Lately I have been making a lot of mince pies and whilst I like them I have to admit I am more of a savoury person, so last weekend I decided to try out a new recipe more in line with an open topped pork pie.

 I have to give credit to Cockburns of Bedale who are the real inspiration for this recipe – for many years when I visited my eldest brother up in Yorkshire we would go to this butchers early on a Saturday morning to buy their open topped pork pies still warm from the oven for lunch (that is if they lasted that long…).  If you are ever on the on the A1 heading through Yorkshire, I highly recommend that you make a little detour via Bedale and visit this butchers to try one of their pies, I promise you will not regret it!

 Whilst the pies have similarities to a pork pie they are not made using hot water crust pastry. Instead this pie recipe uses a shortcrust pastry made with beef suet, the pastry case is then filled with spiced pork meat and topped with homemade cranberry sauce – delicious savoury sweet goodness!  The pies make great canapes at a drinks party as they are surprisingly light but absolutely moreish.

 The recipe below does have a lot of steps, however if time is not on your side and you need a quicker option, then simply follow the cheat options below.

 Cheats option / time saver:

  • Use shop bought pastry.
  • Replace the pork mixture with some festive flavoured sausages instead and simply remove the meat from the skins.
  • Use shop bought cranberry sauce preferably containing whole berries.

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Mini pork and cranberry pies
Makes: 36
Preparation time: 1.5-2hrs

Ingredients

For the pastry:

  • 8z plain flour
  • 4oz beef suet
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs

For the filling:

  • 500g pork meat (fat and any gristle removed)
  • ½ onion (diced)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • zest of 1 orange

Cranberry sauce:

  • 250g cranberries
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 5 tbsp sugar
  • 1 ½ tbsp cider vinegar

Steps:

  1. Make the pastry: place flour, suet, and salt in a bowl, using your fingers, rub the ingredients together until it forms a fine crumb-like texture.
  2. Add the eggs start to bring the mixture together until the pastry forms a ball. Wrap tightly in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes – an hour.  (Note:  the pastry should feel fairly dry but hold together in a ball shape).
  3. Prepare the pork filling: Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until you have a sausage meat type consistency.
  4. Make the cranberry sauce: Place all the ingredients in a saucepan on a medium heat and cook until the cranberries start to break down and the liquid in the pan has reduced.  Taste and add more sugar according to your taste (Note: the cranberry sauce is better if it is still slightly sharp as it will compliment the flavour of the meat.)
  5. Prepare the pies:  Once the pastry has rested,  roll it out in batches on a floured surface until it is roughly 2mm thick, then cut out your pastry cases. Note any leftover pastry cuttings can be re-rolled, just gather them up knead back into a ball shape and then roll again.
  6. Place the pastry circles in your mini mince pie tray (that you have greased and floured) and then fill with the pork meat and top with a little cranberry sauce, be careful not to over fill the pies.
  7. Place in an oven at 190°C fan for 15-17 minutes, until the pastry has turned golden brown and the sauce is slightly caramelised.
  8. Once cooked, remove from the pie tray and allow them to cool slightly before serving.

Tip:  It is often easier to remove the pies from the tray fairly quickly after removing from the oven especially if the sauce has bubbled over slightly as the risk if you leave them to cool completely they will set in the tray.  Be very careful not to burn yourself when removing the pies, use a teaspoon or palette knife to lift them out of the tray.

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