Monday, December 27, 2010

Pulled Pork Pie

Whenever I fall at your feet
Would you let your tears rain down on me
Whenever I fall..
                                        Neil Finn, Crowded House

It's nights like these that I dread the most - when closely knit families gather together under one big roof to celebrate life, and friends toast one another around a tree with clinking glasses and warmed bellies. I feel lost. I feel empty. On nights like tonight I think about lost loves, white lies and aching truths. I sit by the window in the fleeting light with a mug of lukewarm tea and a lonely heart at my sleeve, and watch the world move slowly by.

Once upon a time, when I stared into those deep and endless pools of a soul's reflection flecked with green and brown, I could see myself older, still holding those same hands. There were some moments that I'll never forget: a freezing day in the underground metro, riding up the escalator with hands intertwined, soft and supple lips against my cheek; or another film night, falling asleep on the tiny couch (yet again) with reassuring arms around my waist and the warmth of breath against my neck. It's slightly depressing to open my eyes and realise that these memories are just that.. Memories.

Apparently time can heal all wounds but I'm still waiting for that day to pass. Tonight I just need to be alone. I need to immerse myself in a project that is productive but slow, something I can drag out all night to keep myself contained, a recipe that I can pour all of my love into with results that are both satisfying and reflective.

This is a completely new recipe for me. I had grand plans to do a long, slow braise with dried and podded lazy housewife beans from my garden but changed my mind at the last minute when I found a roll of puff pastry that I'd tucked deep into the freezer many months ago. Not counting the cherry pie with almond cream that I made this time last year, this was my first go at a savoury pie and I'm pretty chuffed with the results.

I collected all the bones and bits (head included) from a suckling pig that would normally find their way into the bin at work. After a quick blanch and a few hours of slow cooking, I picked the meat off the bones and used this to make the pie filling. Despite everyone in my family professing to dislike parsley, I made a parsley sauce anyway. It took me two nights of simmering and reducing, rolling and baking to make my pulled pork pie. I haven't received much feedback yet but I can confidently assume that it would be welcomed back with open arms and mouths seeing as there is nothing left aside from the polite, obligatory sliver and a scraping of sauce. Ho ho ho!

Braised Pork Bits
3.7 kg pork bones (head, bones, trotters)
3 carrots, sliced into 1" pieces
8 fresh bay leaves
5 g thyme, picked (reserve leaves for filling)
70 g parsley, picked (reserve leaves for sauce)
3 g star anise
4 cm cassia bark
Place bones in a large pot and cover with cold water.
Bring to the boil, discard water and rinse well to remove scum.
Cover with fresh water, add carrots, bay leaves, thyme stalks, parsley stalks, star anise and cassia.
Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 hours and 20 minutes.
Remove pot from the heat and allow to cool.
Strain and reserve the stock
Pick meat from bones, discarding any cartilage, skin and fat.
Return bones to the stock and simmer for 4 hours.
Strain the stock and discard bones.
Reduce stock over low heat until only 240 g remains.

50 g unsalted butter
50 g all-purpose flour
Melt butter in a small saucepan.
Add flour and cook for 2 - 3 minutes over low heat.
Remove from heat and cool.
Store in the refrigerator.

Pulled Pork Filling
10 g vegetable oil
125 g brown onion, finely chopped
reserved thyme leaves (approx 3 g)
100 g white wine (I used an Australian Gewürztraminer)
240 g reserved pork cooking stock
50 g roux
30 twists of cracked black pepper
3 g sea salt flakes
Heat oil in a small saucepan and sweat off onion until translucent.
Add thyme and cook for another minute.
Add wine and reduce until almost dry.
Add pork cooking stock and bring to the boil.
Add roux and cook, stirring for 4 - 5 minutes until thickened.
Season with salt and pepper.
Mix through reserved pork meat.
Place on a tray and refrigerate until cold.

Assembling the Pie
375 g puff pastry
1 egg
2 Tbsp milk
Roll out puff pastry to about 4 mm thickness between two sheets of baking paper.
Place onto a tray and refrigerate until cold.
Use an 8" pie plate turned upside-down to mark the pie lid.
Place the remaining pastry over the plate and fill with the cold filling.
Whisk egg with milk to create an egg wash.
Brush egg wash onto the edges of the pastry.
Crimp the edges with the back of a knife.
Trim off excess pastry and cut out leaf decorations.
Stick leaves to pie lid with egg wash.
Brush the pie lid with egg wash.
Cut a few slits in the lid with a sharp knife to allow steam to escape while baking.
Bake at 200ºC for 10 minutes.
Reduce heat to 170ºC and bake for a further 30 minutes.
Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

Parsley sauce
300 g milk
5 g thyme
70 g brown onion, finely chopped
50 g roux
20 g reserved parsley leaves, chopped
1 g sea salt flakes
20 twists of cracked black pepper
Place milk, thyme and onion in a small saucepan.
Cover and simmer for 10 minutes to infuse.
Strain, discarding solids.
Add roux and cook for 4 minutes to thicken.
Add chopped parsley and cook for another minute.
Place in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
Season and taste.


  1. Aww sorry to hear you are feeling down. I do love the sound of this pulled pork pie - making something delicious from the otherwise discarded pork offcuts. I like to think there's an analogy about life and its happenstance rewards in there somewhere :)

  2. Well I think compliments don't get better than that, in most Asian households :) Happy New Year Cathy!

  3. helen - happenstance rewards.. i like the sound of that!

    y - right again you are. happy new year and see you soon! (everyone knows.. EVERYONE!)


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