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outRIAAge | Oct 29, 201604:12 PM     12

This thing is glorious, and also a full-weekend project. It is also the exact opposite of every American "pie" (they're actually tarts: proper pies tend to start with something that once went "oink"). How opposite? You need rubber gloves to work the pastry because you add boiling oil and water to the flour.

There is not a decent pub in Britain where you can't order a fat slab of Grosvenor Pie, served with pickled onions, Branston Pickle, and proper British mustard. If you're lucky, they'll throw in a pickled egg from the big jar that's been on the counter for the last year. Here we go:

450 gm minced veal (1 lb)
110 gm boiled ham, minced (4 oz)
2 TBS parsley, chopped
1/2 TSP ground mace
1/4 TSP ground bay leaves
1 lemon zest
2 medium onions, finely chopped
110 gm lard, plus extra for greasing the tin (4 oz)
200 ml water (7 fl oz)
350 gm plain flour (12 oz)
1 egg yolk
3 eggs, hard-boiled and shelled
Aspic jelly
300 ml boiling water ( 1/2 pint)

Grease a large, rectangular loaf tin (Springform advised) and line with greaseproof paper. Put the veal, ham, parsley, mace, bay leaves, lemon zest and onions in a bowl. Mix well.

Put the lard and water in a saucepan and gently heat until the lard has melted. Bring to the boil, remove from the heat and tip in the flour. Beat well to form soft dough. Quickly and furiously beat the egg yolk into the dough. The dough will probably show egg-yolk striations, no matter what you do, but just follow the "waterproofing" advice below and don't worry.

Cover with a damp tea towel and rest in a warm place for 20 minutes, until the dough is elastic and easy to work. Do not allow the dough to cool completely.

Pat two-thirds of the pastry into the base and sides of the prepared tin, making sure it is evenly distributed. Paint the inside with beaten egg a couple of times to waterproof it.

Press in half the meat mixture and place the eggs down the centre. Fill with the remaining meat mixture. Roll out the remaining pastry for the lid. Cover the pie with the pastry and seal the edges. Get creative with pastry trimmings to decorate the top, and add a few holes in the centre of the pie to let steam out and (later) aspic in.

Make up a glaze-wash with an egg-yolk and heavy cream. Paint liberally everywhere, not worrying about a little extra wash pooling on top.

Preheat oven and bake for 1 1/2 hours at 350F. If necessary, cover the pastry with foil towards the end of the cooking time to prevent over-browning. Leave to cool for 3-4 hours. Pour liquid aspic through the hole in the top of the pie, tilting the pie as necessary to get it into every crevice. Fill until it spills, and don't wipe up. Chill the pie for at least 1 hour. Leave to stand at room temperature for about 1 hour before removing from the tin.

NOTES:
The pie in the photo is packed far too tightly. One of the glories of the dish is the aspic jelly, which you can fake with Better 'n Bullion and gelatin, but it's best to get cozy with pig trotters if you want the full effect. The aspic needs to be solid at room temperature. Pack the meats loosely to allow the aspic somewhere to go.

Careful with the mace! Last time I made it, my mace was very fresh and dominated everything to the point of inedibleness. Reduce to 1/4 tsp if your mace is fresh.

Perhaps double the number of hard-boiled eggs and chop the yolkless ends off. The perfect slice of pie has plenty yolk surrounded by white. In Britain, you can buy boiled-egg "tubes" that produce identical slices, but they use factory eggs. I've considered making a tube of hardboiled whites, drilling a big hole through it, then adding yolks and re-boiling, but then I'm a certified nut-case.

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