The English are well known for their love of meat pies.
Receipts (recipes) for them can be found in cookbooks
of nearly every era. They appeared less and less often
as the centuries progressed, however. By the early
19th century, they had pretty much fallen out of favor
and so began to disappear from cookbooks.
in a thick pastry crust. This “coffin,”
as it was called, was not meant
to be eaten. Rather, it merely
served as the container in which
the pie’s contents were cooked.
They were essentially the earliest
versions of a modern baking dish.
These coffins were frequently quite
elaborate, with all kinds of designs
carved into them or added on top.
Sometimes braiding and piping would
be draped round. Entire pies were
formed into various shapes (see left),
whether abstract or that of spades,
diamonds, or squares. They were
even molded into the shapes of birds,
animals, and fish.
Here now is a receipt for a meat pie from The Taste of the Fire,
The Story of the Tudor Kitchens at Hampton Court Palace. Feel
free to mold it into the shape of a calf or a pig!
Take buttys of Vele, & mynce
hem smal, or Porke, & put on
a potte; take Wyne, & caste
ther-to pouder of Gyngere,
Pepir, & Safroun, & Salt, &
a lytel verthous, & do hem
in a cofyn with olkys of
Eyroun, & kutte Datys
& Roysonys of Coraunce,
Clowys, Mace, & then
ceuere thin cofyn, & lat
it bake tyl it be y-now.
Put minced veal or pork into
a saucepan along with some
wine, ground ginger, saffron,
verjuice, pepper and salt and
cook until the meat is done.
When cool, mix in some raw
egg yolks, chopped dates,
currants, ground cloves and
mace. Place the mixture into
a pastry case and cook in
the oven until golden.
[meat pie art: detail of a painting (from a “Private
Collection”) in The Taste Of the Fire, The Story
of the Tudor Kitchens at Hampton Court Palace]