Derby picnic pie with eggs


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • For



Appears in

Oats in the North, Wheat from the South: The history of British Baking, savoury and sweet

Oats in the North, Wheat from the South

By Regula Ysewijn

Published 2020

  • About

In 1900, Frederick Vine published the recipe for a Derby pie in one of his books. At first I thought the pie was named after the county of Derby or Derbyshire, but thanks to the introduction to Vine’s recipe, I discovered that this pie was so named because it was a popular snack at derby picnic parties. In the past it was popular for people to make a day out of the local derby – a football match between two local teams. There were very extensive picnic options and sometimes people even brought their servants and furniture along to picnic in style and splendour.

Derby picnic parties sometimes turned out very badly, when the pie, which contains cold meat, was kept in unsuitable conditions. The Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser of 16 September 1902 recorded the story ‘Deadly derby pie’. Two older people brought a Derby pie to a party where the pie, which had gone off, made six people sick, one of them fatal. These types of unfortunate events were so common that the culprit was named ‘salmonella derby’. If you keep this pie in the fridge, I can assure you there will be no safety hazard!

Derby pie is still made in a simplified form today, ideal for a picnic or lunch party. You make the pie in advance and on the day it makes a festive table decoration.

This recipe is made with ham hock and minced pork, but 19th-century recipes also suggest veal, chicken and tongue. Certainly worth a try!


For the ham hock

  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 3 leeks
  • 1 ham hock/rear shank
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • butter, for frying

For the filling

  • 4 eggs
  • 150 g ( oz) ham hock
  • 430 g (15 ¼ oz) pork shoulder, finely chopped or coarsely minced
  • 200 g (7 oz) pork belly, finely chopped or coarsely minced
  • 4 tbsp parsley, minced
  • ¼ tsp ground mace
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 300 g (10½ oz) smoked bacon, thinly sliced

For the hot water crust


For a 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) loaf tin

Prepare the ham hock a day in advance. Chop the vegetables and briefly fry them in butter in a deep flameproof casserole dish. Add the ham and enough water so that the ham is completely covered, then add the pepper and bay leaf and simmer for 2-3 hours or until the meat falls off the bone easily. Remove the ham and let it cool. You can use the cooking liquid as the basis for a soup, such as pea soup. If there is excess ham, you can also add this to your soup.

Now I’m going to tell you how to cook an egg because, let’s be honest, we often mess up the simplest things. I start with boiling water, add the eggs, turn down the heat and cook for 9 minutes for an almost hard-boiled egg with a soft yolk. In this way, the egg can continue to cook during the baking of the pie without becoming too dry. Run the egg under cold water to stop the cooking process and immediately peel it while wet because this is the easiest way to do it. Set the egg aside while you prepare the filling.

Finely chop the ham hock and measure out 150 g ( oz) of meat for the filling. Place in a bowl with the chopped or minced meat, parsley, mace, salt and pepper and knead together. Cover and place in the fridge while you make the pastry.

Preheat your oven to 190°C (375°F). Cover the loaf tin with a strip of baking paper so that it can be easily removed later. Greasing is not necessary because the dough itself contains enough fat.

Follow the method for the Hot water crust pastry. Set aside a third of the pastry to make the lid (if possible, keep it warm on a radiator or stove).

Roll out the remaining pastry until 8 mm ( inch) thick. Fold the pastry inward and place it in the tin. Now fold up the sides and let the excess pastry hang over the edges of the tin.

Line the pastry with the strips of bacon, letting the ends hang over the sides of the tin. Add half of the meat mixture and gently press it into the sides of the tin. Place the eggs on top of the meat and press them into the meat slightly so they stand upright. Add the rest of the meat mixture to fill up the pie. Fold the bacon over the meat, adding more strips so that the entire outside of the filling is covered with bacon.

Roll out the remaining pastry for the lid, brush the edges with the egg wash and put the lid on top. Trim the excess pastry and crimp the pastry together with your fingers. Decorate with the excess pastry and brush the top with egg wash.

Reduce the oven to 180°C (350°F) and bake the pie for hours. The pie is cooked when the internal temperature reaches 85°C (185°F) on a thermometer. You can remove the pie from the tin 15 minutes before it is ready and brush the sides with egg wash before returning it to the oven to continue baking.

Let the pie cool completely before serving or keep it well covered in the fridge for up to 3 days. A sharp English mustard is a perfect match and an absolute must!