DESCRIPTION: Basic recipe for a medieval Renaissance style meat pie
Living like a cheapskate: Fun meat pie. It’s easy and a good way to use up leftover meats.
This is one of those things that you can’t mess up. Add vegetables of your choice and omit anything that is not to your liking. Use a biscuit dough rolled thin to top your pies. However a top is not required if you don’t want to add one.
Medieval meat pies usually consisted of beef, pork, venison, or fowl, or a mixture of those meats. The meat was either broiled or boiled, then either used in small bite-sized chunks, or else reduced to a paste by mashing or “mortaring,” and mixed with other ingredients. To make a basic medieval meat pie, choose your meat – a nice roast or even a cheaper cut will do nicely. Don’t use ground raw meat (such as hamburger) – it’s not period, and will completely change the taste of your product. Use about 1 ½ lbs. for a pie that will feed 6-8 people. Broil or boil it until tender, remove from the broth or drippings and let cool. Chop in bite sized chunks, mince very small, or chop small and pass through a food grinder or processor to achieve a paste. Mix into the meat any of the following: egg yolks (for liquid and binding), raisins, currants, nuts, cheese, dates, figs, a splash of wine, seasonings (ginger, salt, pepper, etc.) – be creative and have fun! Mix these ingredients either with the meat chunks or blend them in with the meat paste and place in a pre-baked pie shell . The final mixture should be a little too moist and just slightly runny – it’ll stiffen up when baked, and the extra moisture will keep the pie from going dry. Liquid to use: egg yolks, wine, broth, etc. Medieval pies (sometimes called “bake metis” in Medieval days) were often topped with either a pastry shell (often called a “coffin”) or “byrdys.” (Medieval man had a reputation for eating practically anything with wings! “Byrdys” could be any small bird, ranging from swallows, sparrows, to game hens. For the 21st c. kitchen, small cooked chicken pieces such as small thighs or the “drumstick” section of the wing will do nicely.) After preparation, the pies can either be cooked at once or frozen in the raw state to be thawed & cooked later. When baking time comes, keep them in the oven until the pastry is golden brown. Meat pies can be served hot, at room temperature, or even chilled from the fridge. This means that the busy feast cook can make the necessary pies in advance, and freeze or hold refrigerated until the feastday. They can then be easily cooked or re-heated, or simply served at room temperature. (Be careful, of course, to not let the pies stand in the open too long. Food poisoning is period but as welcome as the plague.) One of the best sources that I know of for finding medieval pie recipes is Austin’s Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books (consisting of 2 period manuscripts) which has an entire section devoted to “Bake Metis.”
RECIPE FOR BASIC MEDIEVAL/RENAISSANCE MEAT PIE:
* 1 ½ lbs. meat (beef, pork, venison, rabbit, poultry, etc. or any combination), parboiled and in small chunks, ground, or mashed
* 1 9″ pie shell (lid optional)
* cooked chicken pieces (wings, thighs, etc.) (optional)
* 4 egg yolks
* ½ to 1 cup meat broth (quantity depends on the dryness of the other ingredients – use your discretion. The final mixture should be on the wet side.)
* splash of red or white wine (optional)
* 1 to 2 cups TOTAL of any of the following, separate or in combination: minced dates, currants, raisins, minced figs, ground nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc.), grated cheese, etc. The variety of ingredients & the total amount used depends on personal taste.
* ¼ tsp. salt
* ¼ tsp. pepper
* 1 – 2 Tbs. TOTAL of any of the following spices, separate or in combination: ginger, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, cubebs, galingale, etc. The variety of spices & the total amount used depends on personal taste.
Mix well all ingredients except chicken. Place in pie shell and top with either a pastry lid or the cooked chicken pieces. Bake in a 350° F oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the pastry is golden brown and the filling set. Serve hot or cold. Serves 6-8.
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