Transcription of Video:
Pies are common fare for everyone in the 18th century. We’re going to bake a couple of pies today using different baking techniques.
Our first pie is going to be a Cheshire pork pie with pork and apples. We’re going to bake it in our oven.
Our next pie will be a mock passenger pigeon pie and we’re going to bake that in our Dutch oven.
Apples have been enjoyed for centuries by people. Apples were popular in the 18th century and today the dish we’re making is called Cheshire pork pie with pippins. “Pippins” is a common name for apples in the 18th century.
In our recipe, we’re going to be using salt pork. This is true 18th century style salt pork, not something like you might find in your grocery store bacon shelf, but a leaner cut hard packed in salt like we’ve discussed in a previous video.
Likewise, we’ve sliced our pippins here and they’re ready to use in our pie. As we make our pie, what we’re going to do is we’re going to put in a layer of pork and then we’re going to put in a layer of apple.
We’re boiling our salt pork today for about an hour. Because we’re boiling it, we don’t need to rinse it off quite as much as we normally would have before using it. We’re going to slice it thin and then we’re going to season it with a little pepper. I’ve got our pie packed up here. Now it’s time to add some spices to it. I’m going to add some salt and some pepper to this to season it well so it’s got some flavor to it.
All these things come right out of our spice kit. A little bit more there. There, that’s good. Now we’re going to put some butter on top that will melt down into our pie here. We’re going to add about 2 tablespoons of water to give it a little bit of moisture.
The amount of water you need to add to this pie totally depends on the kind of apple you use. If you use a Mackintosh apple, they’ll turn to something like apple sauce, so you don’t need to add very much water. If you have a firmer crisper apple, you might need a little bit more water.
So, for pie apples, if you ‘ve got any choice and you’re not just picking off a local tree, if you go to a local grocery store, you want to look for Jonathans or Winesaps, something that’s particularly a pie apple, a tart yet sweet apple that holds together and doesn’t turn to applesauce. What you don’t want is a red delicious apple. Red delicious apples are very 20th century, they’ve been bred for their size and their color and not for their taste and they don’t make a very good pie apple at all.
We’re going to put our second pie crust on here to cover this up, we’re going to trim and seal the edges. Now let’s cut some vent holes and work on the mock pigeon pie.
Passenger pigeons were one of the most populous birds in the 18th and 19th century. There were billions of these birds on the planet. They were almost a scourge there were so many of them. They were very popular and yet you would find them in a lot of recipes. There were so many of these birds that there were reports of flocks that were a mile wide and 300 miles long that would take 14 hours to fly over. There were so many of them they would blot out the sun. Obviously we can’t use passenger pigeons today since the last one died almost 100 years ago, so today we’re going to use as our substitute a Cornish game hen.
We’ve simmered 2 Cornish game hens with onions and then we picked the meat off and put it in the bowl. Now let’s brown up a little bit of flour in some butter.
I’m going to add some stock, let this simmer a little bit. We’ll also season it with a little salt, pepper, and thyme.
By the way, our pie plates here are thrown by our master potter Gary Neater right here in Indiana and they have a lead free food safe glaze.
We’re going to put our pulled meat into a pie crust. We’re going to pour our warmed sauce on top of that, seal it up with the other pie crust, and it’s ready to bake.
There we go. We’re going to bake this mock pigeon pie in a Dutch oven. Let’s talk about these Dutch ovens for a minute. Dutch ovens like this are a specifically 18th century and North American improvement on a 17th century design. The lip at the top is specifically designed to keep the coals from falling off so the coals will stay on the top, and the legs at the bottom keep it so the air can flow underneath and keep the coals alive underneath. We’ve got our Dutch oven preheated. I kind of left it in the fire pit here and it’s good and warm. We have to get our pit ready for this. We’ve got our coals underneath. It’s time to put the pie in. We need to keep the pie off the bottom of the Dutch oven so we’re going to put a couple of S hooks in here to space the pie pan off the bottom so the bottom doesn’t burn.
We’ve got plenty of space around the outside edge so we can reach in there without burning ourselves. Now let’s put the lid on.
Deciding exactly how many coals you want to use is a bit of a matter of judgement. Each person is going to have to get used to that. You need to practice. I put a ring of coals around the top of the lid here leaving the center a little bit open. Same thing at the bottom, there’s a little bit of opening at the very center to not get it too hot. Each one of those is going to be just a little bit different though. Let’s check out our earthen oven and see if it’s ready for the pork pie.
Okay, our oven is all baked down into coals. Our soot is burned off so this is ready to go. You can see about how to use the oven better in the baking bread video. Anyway, I’m going to scrape the coals out and get this ready for the pie.
I’m going to put S Hooks inside this one also to serve as a trivet. I don’t want to burn the bottom.
There we go. We’re going to have to watch this. This one might be a little bit too hot, so we’re going to keep an eye out on it. Let’s put the door on it though.
It’s been about 10 or 15 minutes and I think this is probably ready to go. Take a quick look, whoa! It’s ready to come out. You don’t want it to go too long. Wow, look at that, looks just about perfect.
We’ll I’m sure we’ve left this set long enough. Let’s pull it off the fire and set this aside so it can cool off enough that I can take the pie out of the oven. I’ll take a quick gander here, set that lid aside. There’s a lot of steam in there. Look at that. There you go.
I’m going to let that cool off a minute before we take it out.
I can’t wait to cut these open and try them. They smell really good.
Mmm, these are excellent. Definitely you should try something like this. If this isn’t a normal thing for you, step out of your normal comfortable cooking, get into something like this. Meat pies or something that’s a little bit different. Everybody will enjoy it. All the things you’ve seen here today you can check out and see on our website or in our print catalog and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook.