Definitely Not The Worst Pies In London: Pork and stout pies

When faced with a spring day as lustrous and delicious as the one that is currently gracing New York, it’s hard to believe that it was less than a week ago that we had, for all intents and purposes, a hurricane on our hands. No, seriously. Last Saturday, we had a rainstorm of such magnitude that wind howled, the windows quaked in fear, and Manhattan became the land where umbrellas go to die. I was only out in the gale for seven minutes, and despite being encased in raingear managed to get soaked completely to the skin in that time–a terrible state of affairs, made doubly gruesome by the fact that I was already freezing.

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Awful as it was, however, I’ll give Hurricane Howling Mad Murdoch one thing: it was FANTASTIC weather for cooking. Which was fortunate, as I had a promise to deliver on: Meat Pies for my lovely friend C. I’ve been threatening to make these pies for about seven months now, but as tends to happen, I’ve never quite found the time. Or, you know. Found a recipe to follow. So when Hurricane Hannelore sent us all running for cover, it seemed to be kismet–a glorious, rainy double-excuse of an afternoon to devote to meat-related experimentation.

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I started with pork shoulder (Note: Unless you are hot shit with a carving knife, do yourself a favor and buy the boneless, skinless roast–the struggle I had removing meat from bone was both epic and heroic–and something I have absolutely no intention of doing again if at all possible), cut into cubes and braised in a Bear Republic Stout (a little bitter, but very flavorful) with a gigantor pile of onions for nearly three hours; I seasoned it with a couple of cinnamon sticks and some salt, crossed my fingers, and baked it up inside a delicious, buttery crust. To my incredible surprise, it was kind of fabulous. Something about the gentle heat of the cinnamon contrasting with the malty goodness of the beer was really nice; it was very earthy, which was an excellent complement to the lusciousness of the pork.

All in all, a success! There was some half-hearted debate at the table over whether there was too much cinnamon involved, but the only conclusion we actually came to is that pork braised in beer is pretty awesome. Oh, and that my friends are awesome. But I already knew that.

Pork and Stout pie!

Double batch butter crust pie dough

3-4 lbs Pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 large onions, sliced
2 c Stout (or somesuch dark beer)
2 sticks cinnamon

  1. Preheat your oven to 250 (yes, 250)
  2. Heat some olive oil in a large dutch oven; over high heat, sear the pork with extreme haste (1-2 minutes); remove it from the pot using a slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium, and then add the onions. Saute, stirring occasionally, until they are just translucent. Add the meat back in; also add your stout, some salt, and your cinnamon. Stir it a little to mix everything up, cover, and then put it in the oven. Leave it there for at least two hours, checking and stirring occasionally. The meat is ready when the onions have dissolved and the meat falls apart if you look at it funny.
  4. While this is happening, prepare your pie crust–make the dough, let it rest, and put half of it into your pie plate (I actually used a handful of 4-inch springform pans, because I wanted to make several tiny pies–I’m sure it would be lovely in one big pie, as well.)
  5. When the meat is done, remove it from the oven and crank the heat to 375. Using a fork, lightly prick the bottom of your pie crust; fill with pie weights (dry beans work well for this) and parbake for 15 minutes or so.
  6. Fill your pie with meat goodness; cover with remaining dough. Cut some vents in the top, and then bake until the crust is golden and gorgeous–half an hour, more or less.
  7. Invite your friends over. Ask them to bring whiskey. Eat pie and fall asleep watching D.E.B.S.
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