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History of the Pork Pie

by Well Polished Melton Mowbray, Nov 2019

A pork pie is a traditional British meat pie, usually served at room temperature. It consists of a filling of roughly chopped pork and pork fat, surrounded by a layer of jellied pork stock in a hot water crust pastry.[1] It is normally eaten as a snack or with a salad.

Modern pork pies are a direct descendant of the raised meat pies of medieval cuisine, which used a dense hot water crust pastry as a simple means of preserving the filling.

The Melton Mowbray pork pie is named after Melton Mowbray, a town in Leicestershire. While it is sometimes claimed that Melton pies became popular among fox hunters in the area in the late eighteenth century, it has also been stated that the association of the pork pie trade with Melton originated around 1831 as a sideline in a small baker and confectioners’ shop in the town, owned by Edward Adcock.

The main distinctive feature of a Melton pie is that it is made with a hand-formed crust. The uncured meat of a Melton pie is grey in colour when cooked; the meat is chopped, rather than minced. As the pies are baked free-standing, the sides bow outwards, rather than being vertical as with mould-baked pies.

In light of the premium price of the Melton Mowbray pie, the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association applied for protection under European Protected designation of origin laws as a result of the increasing production of Melton Mowbray-style pies by large commercial companies in factories far from Melton Mowbray, and recipes that deviated from the original uncured pork form. Protection was granted on 4 April 2008, with the result that only pies made within a designated zone around Melton, and using the traditional recipe including uncured pork, are allowed to carry the Melton Mowbray name on their packaging.