To Make a Cheshire Pork Pie

Pies have been part of the European diet since antiquity. The advantage of a pie is that it encases the ingredients inside a hardened crust that protects the ingredients. Sometimes, the pastry wasn’t intended to be eaten, but merely served as a casing. Cheshire pork pie combines the classic pairing of pork and apples.

18th Century

Take a loin of pork, skin it, cut it into steaks, season it with salt, nutmeg, and pepper; make a good crust, lay a layer of pork, then a large layer of pippins pared and cored, a little sugar, enough to sweeten the pie, then another layer of pork; put in half a pint of white wine, lay some butter on the top, and close your pie: if your pie be large, it will take a pint of white wine.

Glasse, Hannah. “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy”

21st Century

  • 1 lb. pork tenderloin
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • ¼ tsp.salt
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples
  • 2 large MacIntosh apples
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • ½ cup Rhine wine
  • Pastry, homemade or store bought
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Remove one piece of dough from refrigerator and let stand until soft.
  3. Lightly flour your work surface and roll out dough into a 12-inch circle. Then, wrap the dough around the rolling pin to transfer into a 9-inch pie pan. Unwrap the dough from the rolling pin into the pie pan, making sure the dough is form-fitted to the pan. Allow the dough to overhang the lip of the pan. Return pie pan with dough to the refrigerator until it is needed.
  4. Slice the tenderloin into round slices that are ¼ inch thick. Season with salt, nutmeg and pepper. Sear the slices in a frying pan with butter and set aside.
  5. Peel, core and quarter the apples. Cut the quarters into slices that are ¼ inch thick.
  6. Retrieve the pie pan from the refrigerator. Fill the pie by alternating layers of pork, apples and sugar. When the pie is filled, lay the butter over the filling. Pour in wine.
  7. Roll the second piece of pastry dough into a 12-inch circle. Then, wet the bottom lip of the dough and place the top piece over the filling. Trim the dough so it is flush with the edge of the pie pan. Flute the edge or press with a fork to seal. With a knife, cut 4 slits on the top of the pie.
  8. Place a rimmed baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven. Place the pie in the middle of the sheet. Bake at 350° for 35-45 minutes.

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38 Responses to “To Make a Cheshire Pork Pie”

  1. May 17th, 2012

    Kari says:

    Looks delicious, but one thing: is there a good substitute for the wine? I’m HIGHLY allergic and can’t have foods that are cooked in/with alcohol. So would apple juice work just as well, if it’s just for moisture? Thank you!

    • May 21st, 2012

      Historic Foodways says:

      Hi Kari, apple juice should be fine as a substitute.
      Or perhaps ginger ale?

      -Frank

      • May 24th, 2012

        Helen FitzGerald says:

        Interesting. What is it about ginger ale that makes you suggest it?

        Thanks, as always.
        Helen FitzG.

        • May 24th, 2012

          Historic Foodways says:

          Well remember that we are looking for a non-alcoholic alternative to wine. I should mention that in the 18th century, ginger ale was in fact somewhat alcoholic. It needed the addition of yeast to provide the carbonation that we now can simply force into any liquid. Both of the recipes for it in the Virginia housewife call for yeast, which would eat the sugar and produce CO and a small amount of alcohol. I would guess period ginger ale to be about 2 to 3 percent ABV.

          I suggest it now as a non alcoholic alternative because pork and Ginger are a fantastic combination, and the sugar in it will add a bit of sweetness to the pork and apples. I guess you could also use apple juice or non alcoholic cider as well, but with apples in the pie already I wonder if cider might be a bit too much.

          To each his own, I might try it some time with a nice crisp pilsner beer in it!
          Frank

          • June 14th, 2012

            Kari says:

            Ginger ale sounds fantastic! I will certainly try that! Thanks so much and I’ll let you know how it tastes!

  2. May 20th, 2012

    Helen Robison FitzGerald says:

    Hi Kari, It’s my understanding (I have not tried it) that white grape juice is a reasonable substitute, perhaps adding a bit of white vinegar for tartness. In this recipe, apple juice or cider might be nice with a bit of cider vinegar. Just some thoughts. Best regards, Helen

  3. May 24th, 2012

    pam williams says:

    Many grocery stores sell alcohol-free wine. It lines the shelves here in MD, where we are so uncivilized as to NOT allow grocery stores in most counties (there are one or two who can) to sell wine, beer or other spirits.

    I use the alcohol free wine when I make syllabubs for kids programs. But, I’ve also used sparkling cider for them, too.

    Ms. Pammy

  4. May 25th, 2012

    Diana Reynolds says:

    If you like the ginger flavor many stores are now carrying non-alcoholic ginger beers which are really soda that has much more flavor than ginger ale.

  5. May 27th, 2012

    Richard Morris says:

    Wont that amount of wine make the base soggy, especially as it is not baked blind? I wonder if it might be better to reduce the wine and add it halfway through the cooking, when the base has set.

    • May 29th, 2012

      Historic Foodways says:

      We were just following the recipe. I agree that you might want to bake the bottom crust first for say 10 or 15 minutes and then assemble the pie. It would be harder to add the liquid later because you are supposed to have the top crust on when it is baking.

      I would point out that the butter crusts of the 18th century are harder then modern ones and tend not to be as light and flakey as modern crusts. I would also cut some vent holes in the top crust so that steam can escape, and that will reduce the liquid as well.

      thanks,
      Frank

  6. May 27th, 2012

    pam williams says:

    I’ve made this several times in the past and made it this past weekend at a “cookover” with friends. It was cooked in a bake oven, as opposed to a bake kettle. Have not had an experience, either in kettle or oven, wiht a SOGGY bottom crust. No…not as crisp as the top, obviously…not surely not a gelatinous mass/mess. I used Riesling this time…and found (and perhaps the apples contributed to it) that just a little too sweet for my taste. I think in the future, I will return to a “sweetish” chardonnay. Not a commercial but the Williamsburg Winery Governors white is my favorite to use. I just happened to have an open bottleof riesling.

  7. June 4th, 2012

    Helen Robison FitzGerald says:

    I made this last night. Delicious! I cooked it in a 16 inch cast-iron Dutch Oven. I didn’t brown the pork tenderloin beforehand; it was perfectly cooked and very succulent. Also, as apples aren’t in season (I guess pork really isn’t either) here, I used white nectarines and white peaches from the farmers’ market instead. I also didn’t use any sugar. Definitely a keeper recipe. Many thanks. Helen

  8. July 1st, 2012

    Angie says:

    I enjoyed watching the video very much. It reminded me of our trip to Colonial Williamsburg. I love colonial history and it all comes to life on this site.

    Thanks so much for the recipe. I’ll have to try it!

  9. October 27th, 2012

    Mercy Riggs Hawkins says:

    I would like to make this hearthside at the historical house where I work. Do you know the approximate cooking time using a dutch oven?

  10. October 29th, 2012

    Helen Robison FitzGerald says:

    On cooking using a dutch oven: I preheated my dutch oven over a fire (you can actually do this in an oven at 500 degrees F but it won’t get as hot) for an hour after the coals were ready. I think I allowed an hour. I did do the modern thing of check the temperature of the meat to ensure it was minimum 140 (trichinosis dies at 138); if you’re worried you can it to 145 – like a chop. Past that, it’s over cooked, for tenderloin.

    I’m sure the History Foodways people have more experience and better ideas. As I wrote in my earlier post, any ripe, sweet fruit seems to go well with pork. The nectarines and plums were yummy.

    Thanks,
    Helen

  11. November 18th, 2012

    I made this pie using a hotwater crust for my regiment’s (Washington Co Regiment based at Sycamore Shoal’s State Historic Site, Elizabethton , TN)Harvest Celebration. It was very rich and delicious. I included fresh sage and mace in the herbs and coarsely gRound about a third of the meat. I used a local white wine to make a trotter’s aspic to bind the meat and fruit. Let’s just say there were no leftovers and I should have made two! Thanks for your site!

  12. January 14th, 2013

    Martin Pilkington says:

    Hi,

    I’m a freelance writer working on a piece about the Cheshire Pork Pie for Cheshire Life magazine in the UK. I was interested in how this would have transferred to the USA, and any comments about how Hannah Glasse was viewed/used in the US, believe her book published there in 1805? I’m also intrigued about why this pie apparently seems to be more popular/better known in the US now than the UK.

    Thanks in advance for any help on this one.

    • January 14th, 2013

      Historic Foodways says:

      Thanks for the questions. First of all, Hannah Glasse’s book first
      started being published in the 1740s. Since we were still colonies of
      Great Britain, we we using primarily recipe books published in England. Of
      course not being the United States, as of that time frame, we were consuming
      those foods coming out of Europe and had transplanted the source foods here
      over the course of 150-odd years of colonization. So it was, along with
      other European recipes, part of our foodways early on.

      I’ve not done any studies as to how popular this dish was here as
      opposed to the UK, but I’d speculate on a couple of reasons. The US, like
      Britain, expanded and absorbed other people and foods into their cultures.
      Those foods here in the US expanded more on pork than did the UK who
      maintained a heavy beef consumption. Spanish influence in the islands as
      well as Mexico with pigs helped boost pork comsumption throughout the
      Americas including the US. Although I don’t know that this pie is that
      popular, it is a great recipe and deserves a try. I hope that this gives you
      a little insight on the matter. Thanks again for your interest, Cheers!
      Dennis Cotner

      • January 15th, 2013

        Martin Pilkington says:

        Thanks for the information Dennis, very helpful. Is there any chance you could mail a publicity shot in case I can use a quote from this in the piece?

        Regards,

        Martin

  13. May 11th, 2013

    c sill says:

    i just found this site. thank you! i know VERY little of colonial history but am fasinated by the past & food of history especially. all recipes i try will be in/on a stove—but thats okay! for me it’s the quality of the dishes & keeping things ‘different’ on the table. thanks!!!

  14. August 12th, 2013

    Michelle says:

    I made this pie this past weekend for a foodways demonstration. It was a huge hit with my hungry boys, I should have made two! I used a pork loin because I couldn’t find a tenderloin that wasn’t already pre-seasoned. I used ripe peaches since they are in season here and a sweet Reisling. I was worried that it wouldn’t hold together, but it was beautiful. My husband has requested it for home.

  15. August 23rd, 2013

    What a delightful website! This will be the perfect addition to our (home school) Virginia history class this year. I’m curious: my son-in-law’s family makes a meat pie that originated in Britain. They pre-bake two pie crusts and cook the filling separately. The filling is placed in one crust, heaping high; the other crust is inverted to form the top. This seems like an ingenious way to do things, and I’m wondering if the method has any historical accuracy.

  16. August 29th, 2013

    Historic Foodways says:

    Hello Jean.

    We’ve seen pre-baked crusts in the 18th century however they were used for custard and marmalade sorts of fillings. It seems this double crust pie was probably something local to a region in the UK or a family tradition of some sort. It could very well have been adapted from the smaller pasty type pies so common in England.

    Neat observation.

    Thanks,
    Dennis Cotner

  17. February 10th, 2014

    Debbie says:

    This looks and sounds delicious I can’t wait to try it. I am starting to prepare for a regency meal for 40 in a years time, so lots of time to try things out I hope. This meal is likly to take place in a local village hall which may not have extensive kitchen facilities – I wondered which of your dishes could be prepared before hand and served cold? as I don’t think it will be possible to heat/cook everything we need on site.

    Love this website, thank you

    • February 10th, 2014

      Historic Foodways says:

      Dear Debbie,
      Thank you for the kind words.

      I would recommend looking at some of the dessert items as well as baked goods to prepare ahead of time. While people of this era would have been used to eating their food not as hot as we do today (more at blood temperature rather than piping hot), you may wish to reserve the meats and veggie sides for the day of so they are hot when served. (To please modern taste buds!)

      Good luck!
      Melissa Blank
      Historic Foodways

  18. February 11th, 2014

    Debbie says:

    Thanks for the advice Melissa, some of the desserts sound great I am definitly going to try orange creams and from the savorys a Salmagundy is near the top of the list.

  19. September 5th, 2014

    Lauren Perry says:

    As I was browsing your recipes I remembered I had made this last November while apples were still fresh. I used “Joy’s” double flaky pastry dough recipe and instead of Riesling I used a medium dry vermouth. I deglazed the pan with the wine and simmered it down to approx. 1/4 – 1/3 cup afraid that too much liquid would turn my pie crust to mush. The bottom crust was a bit soggy but not inedible. I baked the pie in a two inch tart pan. The combination of apples and pork was delicious. I had great time presenting it to my family at dinner time and look forward to the cooler weather so that I can try making it again. I also have some cabbage from my garden waiting to be “farced”. Thank you for publishing this website, it is truly a pleasure.

    Lauren Perry

  20. January 18th, 2016

    David Meyer says:

    Made this for dinner this evening, I should have taken a closer look at the original recipe and gone with the higher ratio of pork to apple that I see there. I think I’d have liked it better that way. It was, none-the-less delicious and will be made again. we used a fairly high quality ginger-ale in the pie, I think I would go with something a little less sweet in the future. We only used McIntosh Apples and I think the extra tartness of the Granny Smith would have helped. All things to be played with as we look to do this again!

  21. June 19th, 2016

    rhino coffee says:

    what a fantastic sight, I’m in the early stages of opening a coffee shop in chester, this recipe is definitely going on the menu.

  22. October 3rd, 2016

    Pramas says:

    One of my distinctive favorites from culinary school. There are many variations but all are great.

  23. November 17th, 2017

    Lisa says:

    My step-daughter requests this every year for her birthday since I first tried it out – perhaps 5 years ago? I don’t mind, because it’s not particularly difficult, and always delicious. To address someones question about soggy crust – I did not find that the bottom crust was unpleasantly soggy at serving when fresh. But when we didn’t finish the whole thing and put it away for leftovers, yes, the bottom crust soaked up the liquid. It still wasn’t bad – the broken up crust was more like dumplings when warmed up again.

    • November 20th, 2017

      kcosta says:

      Hello Lisa. Your step-daughter has great taste, and thank you for being so willing to make it for her. Soggy crusts, then or today, are always the bane of any cook. Many recipes don’t have you add any liquid until after the pie is cooked, in order to avoid the crust becoming soggy in the baking. For anyone wishing to avoid this you can add just a little bit of flour to the pork mixture, which will help soak up some of the juices.

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