Equipment and preparation: You will need a casserole dish, a food processor and a 23cm/9in spring form cake tin.
1kg/2lb 4 oz boneless, rindless pork shoulder, cut into 3cm / 1/4in chunks
2 tbsp sunflower oil
3 medium onions, about 300g / 10 and 1/2oz total weight, halved and sliced
500ml/18fl oz dry cider
1 pork stock cube
1 fresh bay leaf or 2 dried
16 large fresh sage leaves
400g/14oz Bramley cooking apples, peeled, cored, quartered and cut into 2cm / 3/4in chunks
2 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp cornflour
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the shortcrust pastry
400g/14oz plain flour, plus extra for flouring
100g / 3 and 1/2oz cold butter, cut into cubes
100g / 3 and 1/2oz cold lard, cut into cubes
1 large free-range egg, beaten with 1 tbsp of cold water
1. Season the pork all over generously with salt and pepper. Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan and fry the meat over a medium-high heat, until browned all over – it is best to do this in three batches so that you don’t overcrowd the pan. Transfer the meat to a large casserole dish as it is browned.
2. Add another tablespoon of oil and fry the onions over a medium-high heat until soft and golden-brown. Preheat the oven to 180C/Fan 160C/Gas 4.
3. Deglaze the pan with half of the dry cider, dissolving a pork stock cube into the cider as soon as it begins to simmer. Stir hard to lift the sediment from the pan.
4. Pour the liquid into the casserole dish and add the remaining cider, 150ml/5fl oz of cold water, six whole sage leaves and the bay. Cover and cook in the oven for 1 and 1/2 – 2 hours, stirring halfway through cooking, or until the pork is very tender.
5. Carefully tip the pork mixture into a colander over a bowl and allow to drain, then set the cooking liquor aside. Remove the whole sage leaves and bay leaf. Transfer the pork and onions to a bowl and leave to cool. Finely shred the remaining sage leaves, then add the sage and apples to the pork, sprinkle with flour and plenty of seasoning, and toss everything together. Set aside while you prepare the pastry.
6. To make the pastry, put the flour, butter and lard into a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the egg beaten with water for glazing the pie, then, with the motor running, add the rest of the egg to the mixture in a constant stream until the dough starts to come together in a ball.
7. Weigh the pastry and set aside 200g/7oz for the pie lid. Form the rest of the pastry into a flattish ball. Place on a lightly floured surface and roll it out into a circle about the thickness of a £1 coin, turning the pastry and flouring the surface and rolling pin regularly.
8. Use the pastry to line the cake tin, leaving the excess overhanging the sides. (There should only be about 2cm / 3/4 in of excess pastry. If you have more, it might mean that you’ve rolled the pastry too thin to support the filling and you’ll need to re-roll it a bit thicker.) Brush the edge with beaten egg.
9. Add the pork and apple mixture to the tin, spreading it out evenly. Roll out the reserved pastry for the lid in the same way as before, place the tin on top and cut around it to make a perfect circle for the lid. Place on top of the filling, pressing the edges firmly to seal. Trim off the excess pastry and press the edges firmly together. Use a fork to add a decorative edge to the pie. Make a small hole in the centre with the point of a knife, then brush with more beaten egg to glaze.
10. Bake the pie in the centre of the oven for 50–60 minutes, or until the pastry is golden-brown. Remove from the oven and use a narrow knife to carefully loosen the pastry case away from the edge of the tin – this will help prevent the pastry from splitting. Leave the pie to stand for about 5 minutes before carefully removing the tin and sliding the pie onto a board or platter to serve.
11. While the pie is standing, make the gravy. Pour the reserved cooking liquor into a measuring jug and add enough cold water to make the quantity up to 400ml/14fl oz.
12. Mix 2 tablespoons of the liquid with the cornflour in a small bowl. Pour the rest into a saucepan and place over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then stir in the cornflour mixture, reduce the heat slightly and simmer for 2 minutes, while stirring. Adjust the seasoning to taste and strain into a warmed gravy jug.
13. Serve generous slices of pie with the gravy on the side.