My mission for traditional foods in Europe continues and having taste tested the butchers’ shops and bakeries around North Yorkshire I think I’ve found the best recipe for the traditional pork pie or more to the point one that can be made in the New Zealand kitchen. The best that I’ve tasted was a rare breeds pie from a wonderful bakery that has been in the Port of Whitby for more than 200 years and is still owned by the same family. For those of you that ever visit Whitby make a beeline for Bothams and enjoy.

The trick with a good pork pie is to use a combination of lean shoulder meat and introduce the fat content with belly pork. The pie that this recipe is based on uses rare breed pork, but why not try wild pork if you have a pig hunter in the family. Pigs were first introduced to New Zealand by the French explorer de Surville in 1769, but the fate of these early pigs is not known. Today’s wild pigs are descendants of those gifted by Captain Cook to Maori known as ‘razor back’ pigs or ‘Captain Cookers’.

Wild pigs differ from domestic pigs in that they are a short and lean-backed pig (hence the name ‘razor back’.) With an aggressive nature ensuring its survival, this pig has flourished in native bush conditions. A large boar (male) grows to about 100 kilos or more with tusks up to 8 to 10 centimetres. Interbreeding over the last two hundred years with domestic breeds has resulted in a variety of colours besides the traditional black. Wild pork can be used in many of the same ways that farmed pork is used. It has darker flesh and a distinctly stronger, more ‘gamey’ flavour.

For those of you that want to follow the full traditional route then make the jelly stock with hocks and trotters gently simmered for about 6 hours, a long process that can be shortened by using a good stock and gelatine.

Wild Pig and Sage Pie

Originally, the pastry of raised pies was made just to protect the meat terrine and discarded before eating. But these days, we can protect the meat by refrigeration, so why not enjoy the whole experience?

Makes 1 x 20cm pie or 6 individual smaller pies

Hot Water Crust Pastry

600gg plain flour

1/2 tbsp flaky salt

225g lard or dripping

300ml milk or water


1/2 onion, thinly sliced

500g shoulder of wild pig, diced

125g minced belly pork (if wild belly isn’t fatty enough, replace with standard belly pork)

1 tsp fresh sage or 1/2 tsp dried sage

1/4 tsp mixed spice

salt and pepper

Beaten egg for glazing

300ml ham stock (or chicken stock if no ham stock available)

3 gelatine sheets

  1. Pan fry the onions until caramelised.
  2. Cut the shoulder meat into small pieces, removing any sinews or fat.
  3. Mix together the shoulder meat, minced belly and onions. Season with lots of salt, a little pepper, mixed spice and sage and refrigerate until needed.
  4. Sift flour and salt into a warm bowl and make a well in the centre.
  5. Heat the lard/dripping and milk/water until boiling.
  6. Add hot mixture to the flour, mixing well with a wooden spoon until the pastry is cool enough to touch and knead thoroughly with the hands.
  7. Line a 20cm round pie mould/cake tin or 6 smaller moulds with three quarters of the pastry, keeping the pastry about 5mm thick.
  8. Roll out the remainder of the pastry and cut lids bigger than the top of the pie, making holes in the centre(s).
  9. Divide filling between the prepared pie case/s and brush the edge of the pastry with beaten egg to seal the lid down.
  10. Put on the lids and trim to size. Take pie out of mould/cake tin and place on an oven tray. Rest in refrigerator for 20 minutes.
  11. Preheat oven to 230°C.
  12. Brush pies with beaten egg.
  13. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 180°C and continue baking for 50 minutes (or 40 minutes if smaller pies).
  14. Brush the top and sides of the pastry with the egg and continue baking for 20 minutes more.
  15. When cooked, remove from the oven place on cooling racks.
  16. Soak gelatine sheets in water until soft and rubbery (approximately 2 minutes).
  17. Warm the stock in a saucepan to a gentle simmer. Take off the heat and stir in gelatine.
  18. Using a small ladle, carefully pour the stock through the hole in the lid until the pies are full.
  19. Leave to cool, repeating with a ladle of stock two more times.
  20. Chill until set and serve cold.

For me Pork Pies are classic Pub food and should be served with Beer. In the Bay we have a great brewery in Kawerau making Mata Beers. The Mata Manuka has glorious honey tones that compliment the pork to perfection.

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