The inspiration for these pies came from Tamora Pierce's Bekka Cooper Trilogy. My mouth always waters when I am reading her books, and when I reread this series recently I decided to try my hand at recreating the spice pork pie with anise.
“The Nightmarket kept us busy until suppertime. At the Mantel and Pullet, Tunstall ordered a bountiful meal to repay us for all that work. I thought I might drool when the smells met my nose: spiced pork pie with anise, herbs in beef broth, a raston, and a Tyran custard. To make my happiness complete, the barmaid came over with our jacks, ale for the Dogs and barley water for me.”
— Terrier: The Legend of Beka Cooper #1 by Tamora Pierce
Whiles these take a while for prep (close to 1.5 - 2 hours) and then another ~30 min to bake, they are best prepared in bulk ahead of time, frozen, then reheated when you want to serve them.
SPICED PORK HAND PIES WITH ANISE
Makes ~18 servings
~500g (~1 lb) Boneless Pork Chop
150g (1/3 lb) Bacon, thinly sliced
1-2 Potatoes, peeled and cubed (~250 g) .
2 Leeks, whites only, finely sliced
1 Red Onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons Garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Paprika
1 teaspoon Anise Seeds
1/2 teaspoon Sage
2 Apples, peeled, cored, and diced
28 g (2 Tablespoons) Unsalted Butter
100ml Dry Cider
Salt and Pepper, to taste
2 Eggs, beaten
Pre heat oven to 160 C Fan (180 C / 350 F)
4 Fresh pre-made puff pastry rolls* / 18 pre-packaged squares
*I promise to experiment with some dough recipes from scratch and report back, but pre-made puff pastry dough is a gift from the goddess.
Cube the pork and place it into a large mixing bowl. Remove any excess fat or tendons.
Add the bacon to the pork.
Prepare all the vegetables (potato, leeks, and red onion) and add them to the meat.
Add in the spices (garlic, paprika, sage, and anise seeds) and give it all a good mix. Cover and set aside to let the flavors mix. Add salt & pepper to your liking.
Peel, core and dice the apples.
In a small sauce pan over a low heat, melt the butter. Once melted add the cider and the apples and cook slowly until the butter/cider is thickened and the apples are soft.
ASSEMBLY & BAKING:
Line the trays with parchment paper - not aluminum foil. Aluminum foil causes the dough to stick and makes it difficult to remove after baking.
Roll out the dough.
Using a small bowl (~14cm / 5.5 inches), trace 12 (+/-) circles of the dough. Or use pre-packaged pastry squares.
Place the dough in one hand and then use the other to spoon in a good helping of meat filling. You want them filled, but not over filled to the point you can't close them. If you underfill then they deflate in the oven. Overfill them and they leak while baking.
Add a spoonful of the apple and syrup mixture to the top of the meat filling.
To close the hand pies fold into a half moon and pinch the top corner closed. Then pinch and fold back along the area you have already folded and repeat until completely closed to get a scalloped edge.
Beat 2 eggs to form an egg wash.
Lay the hand pies on the tray edge up and brush the eggs on top of the dough.
Cut a small vent hole in the top of each hand pie.
Bake at 160 C Fan (180 C / 350 F) for 35 minutes or until the pies are golden brown.
FREEZING & REHEATING:
Once the hand pies are cool you can wrap each individually in a plastic sandwich bag and then fill a large freeze ziplock bag with the individually wrapped hand pies.
They can keep in the freezer for about 3-6 months depending on if you have a deep freezer or not.
To reheat, preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F and bake from frozen for ~20 min or until the middle is warm.