Saturday, December 24, 2011

Medieval Mince Pie

DSCN0011 This holiday season I went in search of an English medieval minced pie recipe. It seems there is no definitive recipe for this. I imagine that with most recipes of this kind, it involved whatever the cook had on hand. But the original medieval recipes included meat--actual minced meat--in their recipes. Was this a main course or was it dessert--or both? Well, it's certainly hearty. I took a combination of recipes and ingredients from multiple sources. I hope you like the result. (This is my pie to the left)

Medieval Mince Pie

1 lb boiled beef, lean, and pulled apart into fine strings (I made the mistake of not boiling it long enough, so that my beef was chunky. This will take a few hours, or all day in a crock pot.)

4 tart green apples, seeded and cut into bite-sized cubes (I'm not certain that original recipes contained apples, but apples go back a long way in minced pie recipes and it is likely so go ahead and add them.)

1/4 lb or more suet (I just asked my butcher for 1/4 lb of beef fat, which he gave me for free. Cut it into small pieces and throw them in your food processor. Process to fine granules.)

1 box seedless raisins

1 box of currants

1-2 citrons or lemons, cut up into very small pieces

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup molasses (not medieval either. Earliest mention of molasses was in 1592 in Nicholas Lichefield's translation of Lopez de Castanheda's First Booke of the Histoire of the Discoverie and Conquest of the East Indias. It was a later addition to mince pies, but I added it for a darker, burnt sugar sort of flavor. You could easily leave it out.)

1/2 cup cider

pinch of salt

black pepper

1-2 Tb mace

1-2 Tb allspice

1-2 Tb nutmeg

1-2 Tb cloves

4 Tb cinnamon

1/2 cup Brandy (first appeared in the 12th century and became more common in the fourteenth century. Alcohol is a must as a preservative. Yeah, that's it. A preservative.)

1/2 cup Madeira or Marsala wine

In a big pot or Dutch oven, cook the beef fat until rendered. Mix all other ingredients together except for brandy and wine and pour into pot with crispy and rendered fat and cook down. After it's cooked down for a bit, let it cool and then add brandy and wine.

In the meantime, prepare a good lard pastry dough (I put mine in a Wilton 10 x 3 pan). Place the dough in the bottom, pour in the cooled minced meat, and cover with more pastry. I folded the edges down till they were about halfway down in the pan, and crimped the edges. I cut some fancy swirls on top with a very sharp knife and gave it an egg and milk wash. Bake it at 350 for 45 minutes. After it cools for a bit on a rack, I was able to turn it out of the pan to put it on a presentation plate. Good cold or warm. Serves a small army.


Sandra Parshall said...

Have you cooked many medieval recipes, Jeri? It's enlightening to read some of the very old dessert recipes and realize how much more sugar we dump into everything these days.

Here's a link to a recipe for a vegetarian mince pie, for non-meat-eaters like me:

Jeri Westerson said...

Yes, Sandy. I've cooked a lot of medieval recipes. Most are quite good while some have an odd sort of flavor. There isn't a lot of sugar in medieval recipes because it was quite expensive to come by. White and brown sugar weren't in most ordinary kitchens. Honey and fruit served the sweet tooth.

Julia Buckley said...

Very interesting! The closest we'll come to time travel. :)

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