For those who are not geographically close to French Acadia, pork pies are not usually a familiar thing. To be honest, they’re not entirely familiar to me either. Essentially, this French Canadian delicacy, is ground pork, cooked with onions, potatoes and spices, stuffed into a pie shell. Growing up I saw pork pies at family Christmases and events, but never wanted to try them. I mean, ground meat pie is not exactly something a young girl gets excited about. Well, this year I decided to stop the pork pie snobbery and try it myself.
You know what, PORK PIE IS DELICIOUS. I am a convert. Though it is yummy, comforting, savory and crumbly, the real reason I wanted to make it was because of family tradition. For years, my Aunt Dotty has been carrying on this recipe, which belonged to my grandmother. Now that I know how to make it, I somehow feel connected to this woman, my namesake, who I have never met. That’s the magical thing about family recipes, as long as someone carries it on, it never dies. I love that. I know I’ll continue to make this recipe, and one day I’ll pass it on to my kids.
I don’t expect you to make a pork pie, not unless you want to. But, I hope you will make a recipe your family holds dear. Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah my friends, take some time to really enjoy this special time of year.
*You might notice this is not one large pie, but many mini pies. I was asked to make an appetizer for Christmas this year, so decided to miniaturize the classic dish. Big or mini, your choice. Makes about 36 mini pies.
My Grandmother Laura’s Pork Pie
Pre-made rolled pie crust. I know, not homemade, but my aunt does it this way so I decided to as well. Feel free to make your own. If you’re making one large pie, you just need one box of two crusts. If you’re making minis you’ll need three boxes.
2 lbs. ground pork
1/2 lb. 90% ground beef
2 small potatoes (I used russet)
1/2 medium onion
1.5 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. ground cinnamon (plus more to taste)
1/2 tsp. ground cloves (plus more to taste)
1.) Peel and chop the potatoes into one-inch chunks. Place them in a large pot of cold water. Bring the pot to a boil and cook until totally tender, about 10-15 minutes. Drain and mash very well.
2.) Chop your onion somewhat finely. Bring the pot to medium low heat and add 1/2 pound of the pork plus the onion. Cook, stirring and chopping up the meat, until onion is soft (about 5-7 minutes). Gradually add the rest of the meat plus the salt, pepper and spices. Stir to chop up the meat occasionally. Cook until done, about 10 minutes. Drain out the extra fat and juice. I just moved the meat to one side, then tipped the pot a little bit and used a ladle to scoop out the juice.
3.) Stir in the mashed potatoes until you can no longer see them. They are acting as a binder. Give the mixture a taste for spices. I wound up adding in a pinch more cinnamon and cloves. Cook, stirring occasionally on low for 10-15 minutes. Let cool completely.
4.) When the meat is cool, pre-heat the oven to 400*F. If you are making one big pie place one crust into a pie pan and scoop in all the meat mixture. Top with the other crust and pinch to close. Use a knife to slice a couple slits on the top. If you’re making mini pies use a glass to cut circles of the dough (about the size of a muffin tin) on a floured board. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and place the circles in the muffin tip and add in two heaping tablespoons of the meat. Top with another crust circle and pinch to close (be careful to make sure it is closed) then use a fork to seal.
5.) For the mini pies, bake about 15-20 minutes, until crust is browned. If you’re making a full size pie it will probably take longer.
6.) Serve something that will hopefully make a French Canadian grandmother proud.