Can a Pork Pie Go to the Royal Regatta?

Can a Pork Pie Go to the Royal Regatta?

This Pork Pie can!

My husband introduced me to a pork pie on one of our first dates. I have been in love ever since – with both of them! And I have been on a never ending quest for the best in the world – to date that honor is held by James and John Graham Family Grocers in Penrith. It was only natural that one day I would learn to make this national treasure. After a lot of research I settled on this combination of Nigel Slater’s recipe and a BBC Melton Mowbray one.

We have been going to the Henley Royal Regatta with our good friends Jane and Edward ever since we moved back to the UK in 2013. The Regatta is a global competition among university rowing clubs but the highlight of the day isn’t the rowing, it’s the picnic lunch. Jane and I usually organize the menu and share the preparation of the food. We start with champagne, provided by Edward, and nibbles. Then we might serve cucumber soup and cold poached salmon with a strawberry pavlova for dessert along with Pimms or a lovely Provencal rose provided by my husband.

So you can see why when I first suggested a pork pie for our picnic in 2016 I wasn’t sure it was the proper thing to serve at Henley. But it was devoured and I reprised it again in 2018!  It is the perfect picnic dish and really quite simple and delish.  It combines ground pork shoulder, pork belly and bacon…which is a bit wicked but we love that don’t we??!!

The pastry is not made the traditional way by cutting fat into flour. I did test making it with traditional pastry but the result was too fragile a casing for the pork. Instead you need a hand-raised hot water pastry using lard which makes a firmer very tasty casing for the pork.  I did say it was wicked!

Henley Royal Regatta Pork Pie

A delish picnic dish!


  • 150 g lard
  • 50 ml milk
  • 50 ml water
  • 450 g plain flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 egg (beaten)

Pork Jelly

  • 900 g pork bones
  • 2 pig trotters
  • 2 large carrots (chopped)
  • 1 onion (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 bouquet garni (bay leaf, thyme, parsley)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

Pie Filling

  • 400 g shoulder of pork (roughly chopped)
  • 55 g pork belly (skin removed, roughly chopped)
  • 55 g lean bacon (roughly chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon mace
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 sprigs thyme (leaves finely chopped)
  • 2 sage leaves (finely chopped)

Pork Jelly – make in advance up to a day or two ahead

  1. Place all of the pork jelly ingredients into a large pan and pour in enough water to cover. Bring slowly to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for three hours over a low heat, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface, then strain the stock through a fine sieve and discard the solids.

  2. Pour the sieved stock into a clean pan and simmer over a medium heat until the liquid has reduced to approximately 500 ml.

Pastry – must be warm when you start to work it

  1. Place the lard, milk and water into a small pan and gently heat until the lard has melted.

  2. Sift the flour into a large bowl and season with salt and pepper; mix well.

  3. Make a well in the flour and pour in the warm lard mixture. Mix well to combine, until the mixture comes together to form a dough. Knead for a few minutes and form into a ball; set aside.

Pie Filling

  1. Place 1/2 of the pork shoulder, belly and bacon in a food processor and process to a paste. Add the remainder of the pie filling ingredients to the food processor and process just to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

  2. Preheat oven to 180C/350F

  3. Grease a removable bottom cake pan with butter or oil.

  4. Pinch off a quarter of the pastry and set aside for the top of the pie. On a floured surface roll out the remaining pastry into a round disk about 3cm/1 1/4 in thick and the size of the bottom of the cake tin. Place the pastry in the cake tin and firmly push the dough up the sides with your hands (hand raised) to the top rim. It should spread quite easily. If it slides back down leave it to cool a bit. Roll the remaining piece of pastry into a lid that will fit over the top of the cake pan.

  5. Roll the pork pie filling into a ball and carefully place into the bottom of the pastry case, leaving room on the sides for the jelly.

  6. Brush the top inner parts of the pastry casing with the beaten egg and place the pastry circle on top. Pinch the edges of the pastry to seal the pie. Poke two holes in the lid to let the steam out and when the pie is cooked to pour in the jelly. Brush the top of the pie with the rest of the beaten egg. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes to one hour, or until the pie is golden brown all over.

  7. Remove the pie from the oven and set aside to cool. Using a bulb syringe baster or funnel pour the jelly mixture into the pie. Chill in the fridge until the jelly is set.


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