Political Pie

The general election was once described by H. G. Wells as ‘Democracy’s ceremonial, its feast, its great function’. Nowadays election night has become like a national party, with people all over the country gathering together to eat and drink and pass the night away while the results filter through.

I created this pork, veal and chicken pie for an election party in 1983 to keep friends going through the main rush of results in the early hours of the morning. It has remained a favourite.

Ingredients

  • 450 g/1 lb skinless streaky pork
  • 450 g/1 lb pie veal
  • 350 g/12 oz skinless chicken breast fillets
  • 1 heaped tablespoon honey
  • finely grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon bottled green peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons tomato purée
  • 225 g/8 oz rindless thin rashers streaky bacon
  • 1 egg, beaten, to glaze
  • salt
  • black pepper

For the pastry

  • 350 g/12 oz plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 200 g/7 oz butter
  • 4 tablespoons water

Method

To make the pastry, sift the flour and salt into a bowl. In a saucepan gently melt the butter in the water over a low heat and pour into the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until you have a dough. Form into a ball, wrap in cling film and leave to cool. Crease a deep 17.5-20 cm/7-8 in loose-based cake tin.

Using a sharp knife, cut the pork and veal into small pieces and the chicken into slightly larger ones. Put the 3 different meats into separate bowls and season them all very well with salt and pepper. Then stir the honey into the pork, the lemon rind and coriander seeds into the chicken and the green peppercorns and tomato purée into the veal.

Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3. Cut off three-quarters of the cold pastry, shape into a ball and roll out on a floured surface into a circle large enough to line the cake tin and overlap the edges. Fit into the tin, pressing the pastry against the sides. Pack in the prepared meats in 3 layers, with bacon rashers in between: veal first, then chicken and finally the pork. Press the filling compactly down and fold the overlapping pastry edges over it.

Roll out the remaining pastry into a circle big enough to form a lid. Place on top of the cake tin and press the rolling pin around the edges to cut off the excess pastry. Moisten the underside edges of the pastry lid with water and press down lightly. Roll out the trimmings and cut out decorations or appropriate wording. Arrange them on top of the pie. Pierce 2 holes in the top and glaze with the beaten egg.

Cook the pie just below the centre of the oven for 2¼-2½ hours, until a rich golden brown, then leave in the tin until cool. Press the pie up out of the tin and transfer it carefully to a serving plate. Serve cold, but not chilled, and cut with a very sharp knife.

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