A pie packed with juicy pork mince and root vegetables, flavoured with spices
I very much enjoy a bit of ground pork. It’s packed with flavour and is always juicy, as it’s generally a mix of belly and shoulder meat. Buy from one of the Market’s butchers and you’re guaranteed a tasty meal. It’s a pity, though, that there’s not a common pie style that utilises it—lamb has a shepherd, beef a cottage. What about poor old pork?
Step forward the pigsty pie. I’m certainly not the first to suggest the name. Mine, though, makes the most of both the pig and pork’s affinity with turnip, swede and sweet potato. The former root bulks the filling, the latter two make a sweet top. The dish is also enhanced by nutmeg, mace and allspice, which all featured in a recent Spice series post. These spices add a lovely fragrance to the meal. Which might otherwise be quite rich (two trotters provide the stock).
Serve with a big pile of blanched and buttery seasonal greens—turnip tops if you have them, spring greens, cavolo nero. That sort of thing.
For 800ml pork trotter stock (you could use other pork or chicken stock if you prefer):
1 onion, peeled and halved
8 allspice berries
1 star anise
For the pie filling:
200g smoked lardons
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions, finely diced
1.2kg pork mince
300g tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 tbsp dried thyme
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp ground allspice
400g turnip in 2-3cm dice
Handful of turnip tops (if you have them)
For the topping:
800g sweet potato
2 mace blades
Wipe any dirt from the trotters. Place in a large saucepan, add the remaining stock ingredients and cover with 2.5 litres cold water. Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer. After 10 mins or so, remove any scum from the top and repeat again if necessary. Cook gently for 2½-3 hours until the trotter flesh falls away at the touch of a spoon. Leave to cool for 1 hour, then remove the trotters and pick any meat off them. Strain the water through a sieve and into a clean pan, then reduce until you’ve 800ml remaining (probably by a half). You could do all of this in advance.
To make the pie filling, put 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a large frying pan or heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the lardons and place over a medium-high heat. Cook for 5-8 mins until their fat is rendered and the meat golden brown. Add the onions and cook for 2 mins, before tipping in the ground pork. Cook for about 8 mins until browned; you’ll need to turn the meat occasionally, but don’t stir it all the time.
When the pork is looking reasonably cooked, add the tomatoes, spices, stock and any trotter meat. Cook gently for 20 mins, before adding the diced turnip (and chopped stems and leaves if you have them) and warming that through for 5 mins. Decant into a large ovenproof dish. The meat mix should be quite sloppy.
Meanwhile, peel, roughly chop and boil the swede and sweet potato until soft enough to mash. You should do this in separate pans, with one mace blade in each, unless you’re confident that the two are of a size that’ll cook at similar speed (swede will need to be much smaller than the sweet potato). When soft, remove the mace and discard. Drain the vegetables thoroughly. Then mash together with the butter, plenty of salt and pepper, and 7-8 grates of nutmeg. Spoon over the pork mix, then use a fork to ensure the mash is well distributed and also textured.
Heat the oven to 200C. Put the pie on a baking tray (in case sauce bubbles over), and bake for 20-25 mins until the top is nicely crusted.