Chris Moorby realised just weeks before his A’ levels that he was about to ‘severely embarrass’ his parents.
They agreed he could leave school there and then – provided he had a job. The next day he saw an notice at the local butcher’s, advertising for a washer-up, and the rest, as they say, is history.
But Chris couldn’t have imagined then that he would go on to become one of the country’s leading experts in charcuterie and the great British pie.
Having decided on butchery, he took formal qualifications and an apprenticeship at the Thomas Danby College in Leeds – the industry’s ‘blue ribbon’ training venue. Then followed 20 years in the private sector, working for a variety of companies at management level, before completing the circle by becoming head of butchery at his alma mater.
“I was training and educating the next generation of butchers – there’s a massive skills shortage in the field,” he says.
He thought his chance to promote the cause had come when Gordon Ramsay brought his F Word team to film a feature about the shortage – and Chris was chosen to be the host.
“The filming took a full day, with hours of takes and retakes. I was involved throughout and in front of the cameras for most of the day.”
Family and friends gathered in great anticipation to watch the screening: “The moment arrived, the great man announced that he was on his way to Leeds... and that was that. The entire piece lasted no more than a minute and my only part was to be seen opening the door to allow him through!”
More recently Chris has become a freelance advisor on British charcuterie, helping artisan producers with anything from setting up their businesses to staff training and product development. He also continues to promote the industry as part of the butchery team at the School of Artisan Food on the Welbeck Estate, near Worksop.
His work there includes developing and delivering meat courses for everyone from home enthusiasts to professionals. His next course, on home-made pastry and pies, is set for August 26 and is open to all. For details see: www.schoolofartisanfood.org
“Hand-raised pork pie is my signature dish,” says Chris. “The first recorded recipe was in 1390 in the kitchen of King Richard II.
“I like its simplicity; I like making it; and I like eating it: the pastry is crisp but crumbly, the meaty filling soft but firm and the piquant jelly makes the whole thing burst with flavour.
“A good hand-raised pork pie is proper yummy grub.”
HAND RAISED PORK PIE
(makes 4 x 500g pies)
580g strong plain flour
265g boiling water
800g lean pork shoulder, coarsely minced
200g pork back fat, finely minced
15g fine salt
8g ground white pepper
Heat water in a pan; add lard, stirring often until it melts.
Pour flour into a large bowl; add salt, mix well.
Bring lard and water to the boil; SLOWLY pour into flour and salt, taking care not to splash. Mix well with a wooden spoon until cool enough to handle.
Gently bring together to form a paste-like consistency, cover with cling film and cool.
Place minced meat into a large bowl, add fine salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.
Divide cooled hot water pastry into 4 equal amounts, approx 250g each.
From each piece of pastry set aside approx 20g for the lid.
Knead pastry lightly, taking care not to overknead.
Shape larger pieces of pastry into ‘burgers’ approx 1.5cm thick.
Flour a pie dolly (or baked bean tin) and place in centre of pastry, slowly easing up the sides until casing is approx 14cm high.
Place dolly on its side and roll gently to loosen the pastry. Stand upright and slip a pallet knife between the dolly and pastry case, gently working around to ease it out; chill to firm up.
Divide filling into 4 equal amounts and roll each into a ball shape; press ball gently into pastry case.
Take pastry reserved for lids and roll out each piece until just smaller than the top of pie base; make a hole in centre of lid.
Moisten neck of each pie with egg wash; place the lid on and seal to base with a fork or your fingers.
Glaze with remaining egg wash and place into a pre-heated oven at 190°C for 15-20 minutes.
Reduce heat to 170°C and bake for a further 50 -60 minutes; cool.
Make gelatine according to instructions by adding to chicken stock.
With cooled pie on a flat surface, place a funnel into hole in lid and slowly pour in gelatine; repeat until filled to the top.
Leave to cool until jelly has set. Serve with salad and pickles of your choice.