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Monday
Mar042013

Episode 31: Fleet Street Pies

Back again for more punishment! Let's get started.

Notes:

This is the part where I admit I was wrong. 

You see, this recipe had very specific measurements of both top and bottom dough-pieces to make up the pies. I slavishly kept to those sizes, even after buying ramekins that were a little bit bigger than said measurements. So when my pies came out of the ramekins, they were, well, they were little frisbees. But they were delicious little frisbees. This recipe might have started life as a minced pie recipe, but the switched to roast pork as the main ingredient made it from school tuckshop fare to proper gourmet stuff. Seriously. They are very very good. I think part of the secret is the lack of vents in the dough, which keeps the juices in and keeps your pie from getting dry. So anyhow, do yourself a favour. Measure the dough to your ramekins. Fill them up completely. The second time I made the recipe, I used the same ramekins, and still made 4 biggish pies and a dozen small ones easily.

I also realise that I've now made two recipes on here for dealing with roast pork leftovers. Maybe I need to do an episode of basic roast pork so you guys can see the before as well as the after.

As for the name, pork --> long pig --> cannbalism --> Sweeney Todd -->pies. That worked out well.

Music Notes, by Joel AKA @Gingerexplosion

Möbius Band - "Subterranean Homesick Alien"

Vampire Weekend - "Exit Music (For A Film)"

both from "Stereogum presents OKX: A Tribute To Ok Computer", 2007

Radiohead's OK Computer might be the last of a dying breed, the last of the Classic Albums. For an album of claustrophobic art-rock, it was a staggering success, selling over 1.8 million copies in the UK, and going triple-platinum in the famously insular US. Heavy on the diminished chords and weird progressions, it's hard for a 21st century audience to imagine it on the radio, but songs like Karma Police charted in the UK, and were amongst the most-played on American radio in 1997. The band's name became a by-word for 'miserable' (see this Father Ted scene for proof - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnZDI1slxMI). Though that might have been a bit of a generalisation to begin with, it certainly became more and more accurate as the strain of being rockstars began to take its toll; Thom Yorke, in particular, struggled with the burden of being a frontman, like a nerdier Kurt Cobain.

That level of success complicates matters for the audience, too. For a new listener, there’s the weight of history, the baggage they bring with them to the record; we’ve all been let down by an album (or book, or movie) that has been crushed by expectation before it had a chance. For long-time fans, it’s more difficult again ‒ how can you see OK Computer as merely an album, without bringing all your memories and associations along for the ride? That’s the problem with Classic Albums (apart from the rockist insistence on them): perspective. It can be difficult to see them as anything other than culturally-enforced monoliths, untouchable and immune to critical challenge. OK Computer is a terrific album, one that the years have done little to dull; its (yes) paranoid air and constant, buzzing grey anxiety feels as relevant now as it did then. Most people over 20 have lived with this album for 15-odd years (the anniversary is May 21st this year for those playing at home); how can you honestly evaluate something so close to you?

Stereogum had a great solution. In 2007, they rounded up a diverse bunch of indie acts and had them cover OK Computer track by track. This kind of tribute album has its flaws, usually in the form of too-reverent covers that offer no insight on the source material. OKX isn’t immune to that (Cold War Kids’ tuneless and achingly dull cover of Electioneering; David Bazan’s nice but largely identical version of Let Down), but there’s enough inventiveness on hand to make this an interesting listen.

Mixing in a healthy dose of Kraftwerk and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Möbius Band’s cover of Subterranean Homesick Alien replaces the original’s eerie-U2 vibe with pneumatic krautrock rhythms and dissonant synths, pushing Thom Yorke’s sci-fi metaphor to the front. It feels genuinely unsettling, though it sheds subtlety for impact; when it shifts into Dungen-ish psych-rock, it loses its way altogether, but manages to stay compelling. 

Vampire Weekend make for a counter-intuitive choice to cover Exit Music (For a Film). The original, heavy with slow-burning dread, seems at odds with the peppy, preppy stylings of a band known for Afrobeat rhythms and wearing really nice vests. And it is a very strange cover, melding the two distinct styles into something deeply unsettling. Ezra Koening tends to sing in staccato syllables, spitting and popping sharply observed social commentary at high speed, so it’s disconcerting to hear him drawing out his vowels in imitation of Thom. Chris Tomson’s percussion sounds more familiar, skittering along with more familiar energy; that is, until the climax, when the rhythm becomes erratic and confusing.

That none of the versions on OKX approach the majesty of the originals is, well, OK. By taking a smaller element and drawing it out, both Vampire Weekend and Möbius Band have given us a chance to approach these capital-C Classic songs, and appreciate them from a different perspective. For that reason alone, these versions are well worth a listen (make sure you check out My Brightest Diamond’s cover of Lucky, too).

You can find the OKX album here: http://stereogum.com/okx

Recipe:

Fleet Street Pork & Braised Cabbage Pies
a heavily adapted recipe by CoverVersions.tv

makes 4 individual dinner-sized pies, and about a dozen little ones.

ingredients:

500g roast pork
2 cloves garlic
1 onion
200g red cabbage
2 Granny Smith apples
1 egg
1 tbsp flour
1 small bunch fresh sage
1 packet shortcrust pastry (5 sheets)
verjuice (optional)

 

  • Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.
  • Take the dough out of the freezer to thaw.
  • Crush, peel & mince the garlic.
  • Peel & dice the onion. Use the technique in the video to ensure the pieces are all the same size & cook evenly.
  • Core the apples, leaving the peel on.
  • Slice the apples into matchsticks, using a v-slicer, mandolin, grater or julienne peeler.
  • Shred 200g of red cabbage, using a similar method.
  • Cut the roast pork into bite-sized pieces. Don't be too dainty, it'll come apart as it cooks.
  • Get a big deep pan on medium heat with some oil.
  • When it's hot, throw in the onion & garlic & cook for 5 minutes.
  • Once the veg is softened, add the pork to the pan and let cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • While the meat's cooking, pick the leaves off the sage & finely slice 2 tbsp's worth.
  • Add the flour to the meat-onion-garlic mix, stir & let cook for another 5 minutes. 
  • Once that's done, add the sage, apples, and cabbage, and stir it all together, cooking for yet another 5 minutes, then take the pan off the heat & allow to cool.
  • Take out 4 big ramekins & spray them with olive oil or other non-stick spray.
  • Take your thawed dough, and cut out sheets that will cover the bottom and sides of your ramekins. Do NOT believe any arbitrary measurements.
  • Line the ramekins with the dough, then load them up with the pork mixture.
  • Cap each pie with more dough, then seal the edges with your fingers.
  • Crack an egg into a bowl, beat it, then brush it onto the pie tops.
  • The pies go in the oven for 35 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before taking them out of the ramekins.
  • You'll have plenty left over, so I made mini pies in a muffin tin using the same method & random leftover scraps of dough. These little ones are great for lunchboxes!
  • Serve with red wine, seize, and consume!