Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Whale pie

Picnic time favours pork pie and while snack-sized pork pies are all very well, sometimes you need a huge monstrosity. 

Well, here's one I prepared earlier... 

It is LOOSELY inspired by whales, although to be honest, that was just because someone made a random (and rather inspired) challenge to make a whale-shaped pie. (you know who you are)

And thus, I give you... WHALE PIE!
(disclaimer - this is only rather roughly anatomically accurate)

It is technically a hot-water crust gala pie (in other words, it's a pork pie with egg in it too.)

Mould making

A big pie needs a big mould. This is about 16" long and 4" high

To make this, I retrieved this lovely sheet of stainless steel from the dark depths of the shed. It is food-grade stainless steel and was previously a panel from a commercial kitchen, that I salvaged from a skip some years ago.

This was cut into strips with a large pair of tin snips...

Up close...

To yield two basic steel pieces (these are about 24" long)

Hammering out the shape

Any excuse to get on the anvil. The pieces were hand beaten to match a crudely drawn profile shape.

Half an hour later...
The drawing is just about visible.
The two halves overlap slightly so they can be rivetted together later.

Here it is after rivetting.

And finally, it needed a wash to clean it up.

Pie making

Moulds aside, the pie itself is a basic pork pie with boiled egg
This starts with a large pork shoulder joint.

2-3 kilos minced by hand in a manual rotary grinder. Not a light undertaking.
Not show here was another kilo and a half of cooking bacon, also hand-ground. This was seasoned simply with salt and black pepper.

Also required, a lot of eggs - boiled for 10ish minutes...

This takes a load of peeling, obviously. On the plus side, the shelled eggs are mesmerising.

The pastry is a basic hot water crust - half beef dripping, half butter, strong bread flour, water, salt.


The mould was lined with pastry, hand moulded to a thickness of about 5mm.
Then a base of meat mix was placed as a bed.

An egg-based spine was inserted.
Note, the eggs were topped and tailed to ensure they kiss yolk-to-yolk.

This was filled up with the rest of the meat mix.

And covered with the rest of the pastry.

And trimmed and sealed.

Bake it

This hunk of tasty needed a load of cooking - three hours in fact. Here it is going in...
It was cooked on about gas mark 5.

Not shown here is that it gets turned halfway - avoidance of soggy bottom etc. Here it is some way into the bake. The glaze was built up by basting the pastry in the proteiny juices that exude.

Later in the bake, a pastry dorsal fin was added...

Hmm... more Godzilla than Balaenoptera musculus.

Mould removal

Baking a monster pie is the easy bit. Getting it out of the mould is a challenge in itself.

Not shown is steaming the mould with a kettle to soften the fat, coupled with some prudent parting of pastry and mould with a palette knife.

Thar she goes...

For scale, that is an 18 inch ruler

And a normal apple...

The final beast. Like a real whale, it is not subtle. Final cooked weight was about six kilos.

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