Apple Cider Pork Pie

Cold and blustery winter days call for hot comfort food, and a gorgeous flakey wholesome pie ticks all the boxes. I bought a new country-style ceramic pie dish the other day and so, naturally, was busting to bake a pie. I did want to try something a little different though, so I came up with this recipe to satisfy my pie craving and make use of some beautiful free range pork bought at my local farmers' market.

For this recipe I used Yarra Valley Free Range Pork. These farmers breed pedigree Large Black pigs that roam free in large open paddocks. Each and every pig is lovingly treated and is, literally, happy as a pig in mud. It's so important to know where your pork comes from and buy only free range pork. Many pigs in Australia live a miserable life, kept indoors in tiny sow stalls and farrowing crates, and never see the light of day. Whilst there are steps being taken to phase out sow stalls over the next few years, there's still a long way to go. Do your bit by buying only free range pork - not only does it taste better, it sends the message that animal cruelty won't be tolerated.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 bay leaves
1.5 kg free range pork fillet, diced
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup dry alcoholic cider (I used Pipsqueak cider, brewed in Healesville Victoria)
1/2 cup pressed apple juice
2 cups free range chicken stock
2 tablespoons cornflour
2 x sheets organic puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celcius (gas mark 4). Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based pot and sautee the onion and bay leaves over a medium heat until the onion is very soft (but not coloured). Add a pinch of salt and the diced pork and sautee until the pork is browned. Add the thyme, cider, apple juice and chicken stock and cook for a further 30-40 minutes until the pork is nice and tender. Combine the cornflour in a little water and stir into the pork mixture, cooking for a further 5 minutes or until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Line a 22cm buttered pie dish with a sheet of puff pastry, spoon the pork filling into the dish and top with another sheet of pastry. Press the edges of the pastry together to seal and trim off the excess. Brush the top of the pie with the egg and cut a little slit on top with a sharp knife. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the top is lovely and golden. Serves 4.

Delicious served with mushy, buttery, minted peas.


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