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Propagating Wild Yeast for Reenactments


Today, if you asked 50 people about how to start a wild yeast culture for making sourdough bread, it’s likely you’ll get 100 different answers, but in reality, all it takes is a little bit of flour, some water and…

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September 29, 2017


Akara Recipe


Akara is a simple, easy to make snack that was frequently made in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Dried Black-eyed Peas Onions Parsley flour Boiling water Lard First, pulverize the dried black-eyed peas into very small pieces. Add to…

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A Fanciful Yet Easy Asparagus Soup


This delicious Asparagus Soup recipe from Elizabeth Cleland’s A new and easy methods of cookery (1755). Many of this recipe's techniques, including roux, food coloring, bone broth, and court-bouillon (the ingredients boiled in the soup that are removed before eating)…

Asp6

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September 28, 2017


Rye and Indian Bread


This is called Rye and Indian bread, because it’s made of part rye flour and part Indian meal or sometimes we call it cornmeal. You can use just those two grains to make the flour, or you can add wheat…

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Simple Boiled Plum Pudding


Many people hear the word pudding today and they think about some little custardy stuff in a cup or something you buy at the grocery store in a box and mix it up with some milk. Pudding has a much…

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An Onion Soup Recipe from 1801


This recipe for onion soup is out of John Mollard’s 1801 cookbook, “The Art of Cooking Made Easy and Refined”. 4 oz. Butter 4 tbsps. Flour 8 midsized Onions of choice Salt 3 qts. Beef Stock 4 Egg Yolks 1…

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A White Pot Recipe


A White Pot with Raisins and Dates Serves 1 - 6 (depending on how polite you are) The name “White Pot” originates from the Devon region of England. But this sweet, buttery custard bread pudding, layered with sweetmeats (dried fruits)…

Also Known as a White Pudding


Master Wood Turner Erv Tschanz


In this special video, master wood turner Erv Tschanz shares his passion for the craft. Erv is one of several skilled artisans that sells handcrafted items through Jas. Townsend & Son. The treenware cherry wood plate being made in this…

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September 13, 2017


Weaver/Trapper Interview: Experiencing History Through Reenacting


We've been busy interviewing fellow reenactors for the purpose of inspiring and encouraging viewers who are interested in getting involved in historical reenacting but don't know how to begin. Today we interview Tony Baker, a weaver by trade, who has…

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Starting a Living History Group from Scratch


It took an idea and a group of friends, and it went from there. Albert Roberts tells the story of how the innovative historical interpretive group "The HMS Acasta" was born. http://ift.tt/2wQkO31 More great information! ***************************** Our Retail Website -…

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Page 1 of 69
Paw Paw Pudding

Paw Paw Pudding

Paw paws are a small yellow fruit native to the Eastern United States, but has a very short harvest season of only a week. Because of this short harvest season, it is hard to find recipes for this delicious fruit so we have adapted a pumpkin pie recipe from Amelia Simons’ “American Cookery” cookbook.

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  • Pie Crust
  • 1 cup Paw Paw Flesh
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1 Egg
  • 2-3 tbsp. Molasses
  • 1 tsp. Allspice
  • 1 tsp. ground Ginger

Make sure to remove all seeds from the paw paw flesh and mash it up. Whisk in milk and egg getting the mixture as smooth as possible. Mix in your molasses and spices. This mixture will be a little thin but will thicken up as it cooks.

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Pour the mixture into your pie crust and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely, probably even overnight before slicing.

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Transcript of Video:

[Ivy] Hey dad, look what I found!

[Jon] Ah, let’s take a look! Wow, I’ll bet this is the leaf from the tree they came from?

[Ivy] What are they?

[Jon] These are paw paws. I’ve got an idea for these. Let’s take them to the kitchen.

[Jon] So paw paws are a strange exotic kind of fruit.

[Ivy] They look like a cross between a potato and an avocado.

[Jon] I mean, obviously, these really green ones, these aren’t done, but when they start to turn yellow, maybe with little brown spots like this, like a banana starts to get overripe, that’s when you know they’re getting ripe.

[Ivy] What do they look like on the inside?

[Jon] Well, on the inside, well, let’s cut this one open and we’ll find out. There we are, so look at that.

[Ivy] Wow, it’s yellow.

[Jon] Yeah, they’re very yellow on the inside and look at those seeds. Here you can pick one out.

[Ivy] They look kind of like beans.

[Jon] Definitely has an interesting fruity smell to it, like maybe some mango, that’s kind of what it looks like here, or apple flavor.

[Ivy] Mmm, that’s good.

[Jon] Is it like a sweet fruity flavor? Let’s see. Mmm, look at the texture though. It’s very soft and almost like a custard on the inside. A very soft and gentle flavor, but nice and sweet. You know they’re not very rare. They actually grow in most of the Eastern United States and all the way up into Eastern lower Canada, but the harvest season on these is very short. They’re really only ripe and ready to go for a couple of weeks, maybe only one week in the year and the forest animals can smell them and they’ll come and get them.

[Ivy] I can see why, they’re delicious.

[Jon] They do smell really good and you can tell how they could probably smell them from miles away. They also don’t travel well, so we’ll probably never find them in something like a grocery store. You might find them in a local farmer’s market or if you don’t find them there, you going to have to find them yourself in the woods.

[Ivy] Did people eat them in the 18th century?

[Jon] Actually they were eaten by the Native Americans and the settlers alike in the 18th century and you do find references to them, but you don’t really find them in any cookbooks, probably because they weren’t available all the time, so you never find a recipe until much later on in the 19th century. There’s also references to Louis and Clark feeding on these almost entirely at the very end of their journey’s in 1806. Louis and Clark were coming back and all their supplies were gone and so they had nothing but paw paws to survive on for a short period of time. So, let’s pretend we’re settlers and you’ve brought a whole bunch of paw paws to me, in fact you have brought a whole bunch of paw paws to me today and we can’t eat them all right away so what are we going to do with them?

[Ivy] I would find a recipe that I really liked that would preserve them.

[Jon] Right, but we don’t have any recipes that they had in the 18th century, so maybe we would…

[Ivy] I would adapt the recipe for something similar.

[Jon] And that’s exactly what they would have done in the 18th century. I’ve got a good idea for something that would probably cook up nicely. Hand me that little cookbook over there. So, this is Amelia Simons’ “American Cookery” cookbook. She did this one in 1796. It’s got a perfect recipe that I think will work with this. It’s called a pumpkin pudding. It’s really much what we would call a pumpkin pie, so we’ll adapt that recipe for these paw paws. Let’s get started.

[Jon] So, to get started, I’ve got a pie plate here with our pie crust in it and I’m going to set this aside and we’ll work on the filling. And the filling I’ve got here is about 1 cup of the paw paw flesh. We’ve got it taken out. I’m not sure if I got all the seeds, so I want you to mash that up and make sure we got all the seeds out.

[Jon] Good, that looks like we don’t have any seeds in there so go ahead and lift that out. I’m going to add in about 1 cup of milk. We’ll add that to it, and I’ve got 1 egg we’ll add to this. Pretty simple recipe. There’s our egg. And now we can whisk it. Now the trick with this is to get it ask smooth as we can. We don’t want it to be too lumpy. And this fruit can be a little stringy, you know, it changes its consistency, so we’re really going to have to get it mixed up well.

[Jon] Good, you’ve got that nice and smooth. We’ll add 2-3 tablespoons of this molasses and now we can add some spices. I’ve got a teaspoon of allspice and a teaspoon of ground ginger. We’ll add those in and keep mixing. Okay, it looks like you’ve got the consistency pretty well. There’s still a little lumpy but I don’t think it’s going to make any difference in this particular recipe.

[Ivy] It looks really runny.

[Jon] Well, you know, it is very, very thin, but I’ve made this recipe before and I thought at first, the first time I made it, that it was not going to work, but I baked it anyway, and it turned out perfect, so I’m going to trust that this will work out just fine, so let’s pour this into our pie plate, here we go.

[Jon] Okay, our pie plate is filled nicely. This looks good. It’s ready to go in the oven, so we’ll bake this at 350 degrees for maybe an hour and 20 minutes. I’ll put this in the oven.

[Jon] Before we slice this pie, we need to make sure that it’s cooled completely, probably even overnight.

[Ivy] I’m surprised how dark it is.

[Jon] You know, it is nice and dark. It looks very rich. Part of the color is going to be from the molasses and part of it’s just what’s happening with the paw paw. Let’s find out how it tastes.

[Jon] Well, boy, I’m really trying to find the flavor for this. It’s a wonderful flavor. It’s got a little bit of pumpkin pie in it but it’s much fruitier. It has an amazing little flavor to it. Boy, this is really good.

[Ivy] I can taste the allspice in it.

[Jon] Yeah, it’s wonderfully flavored. Thanks for bringing those paw paws in. They turned out to be tremendous in this dish and I want to thank you for coming along as we experiment. You never know what these things are going to turn out like, so as we savor the flavors and the aromas of the 18th century. And a special thanks to Jim Hoffman for his assistance in this episode.

If you’re new to our channel, I want to welcome you. You can subscribe by clicking the button right up here. Also, check out our related videos. Thanks so much for watching.

Lemon Minced Pie

Lemon Minced Pie

Our recipe today comes from Maria Rundell’s 1808 cookbook, “A New System of Domestic Cookery.” This is a recipe for a minced pie, but it’s a little different. It’s got a different twist on it. It’s a lemon minced pie.

  • Short Paste
  • 1 Lemon Peel
  • 1 large Baking Apple
  • ¼ cup Suet
  • ¼ cup Sugar
  • Juice from 1-2 lemons
  • ½ cup raisins

Butter an 8 inch tart tin very well and place short tin in the bottom.

Lemon Minced Pie (Time 0_02_04;12)

Boil lemon peel about 20 minutes to get rid of some of the bitterness and make it easier to work with, then mince very fine.

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In a ceramic or wooden bowl, pare, core, and chop apple very fine and mix together with suet, sugar, lemon peel, lemon juice and raisins.

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Pour into short paste and bake around 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.

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Cool completely, even overnight or refrigerate to remove from tart tin.

Transcript of Video:

We’re concluding our baking in the Dutch oven series with this wonderful little fruit tart. I think you’re going to be surprised with this one. Thanks for joining us today on 18th Century Cooking.

Our recipe today comes from Maria Rundell’s 1808 cookbook, “A New System of Domestic Cookery.” This is a recipe for a minced pie, but it’s a little different. It’s got a different twist on it. It’s a lemon minced pie. Let’s get started.

Today we’re baking this in one of our 8 inch tart tins. These guys are hand made by Dennis Kutch, one of our tin smiths. He does a wonderful job. They’re available in the print catalog and on our website. The original recipe actually calls for making this in patty pans and probably the closest thing you’ve got in a modern kitchen is a cupcake tin so this is actually meant to be small individual little pies or tarts. Today we’re making this in one of these tart tins because of course we’re going to be baking in a Dutch oven.

If you’re going to be using one of these 18th century style tart tins, the bottom doesn’t come out of this so you want to make sure to butter it really, really well or you’ll never be able to get it out of the tin. This tart tin’s already well buttered. We can just lay in our paste in the bottom, any paste will work fine here, but short paste will work great and if you’re interested in a short paste recipe I’ll put a link to our short paste episode down in the description section below.

Our first ingredient is lemon peel and you might immediately say, “well, wait a minute Jon, did they have lemons in the 18th century?” Obviously you see lemons all over in the cookbooks. It really depends on where you’re located and the economic level of the person as to how common lemons would be in their standard daily diet, but obviously they’re very popular in the cookbooks. In this particular setting, we’re going to be using lemons. What we’re going to do is, we need lemon peel and you can just peel off the peel of your lemon, cut it off in one nice long strip to make it easier to work with and boil your lemon peel about 20 minutes. This is going to get rid of some of the bitterness and make it much easier to work with. Once we’ve boiled this lemon peel, we can take it out and mince it nice and fine.

To mix this up, we need a nonreactive bowl, something like a ceramic bowl or a wooden bowl. Inside this, we’ve got 1 large apple chopped up. It’s been pared and cored and chopped rather finely. You’ll want to use some baking kind of apple. Golden Delicious might work well in this. That’s what we’re using right now. To this, we’re going to add the diced lemon peel that I talked about earlier, ¼ cup of suet, ¼ cup of sugar, the juice of 1-2 lemons, and ½ cup of raisins. Mix these up well. We are using suet in this recipe. It can be difficult to find. We do sell a USDA approved suet in our catalog and on our website. You may be able to find some kinds of suet in your local supermarket or at your butcher shop. Again, if you’re interested in suet I want to point you to an earlier episode we did on rendering your own suet.

We need to cook this at around 400 degrees so we’ll need to get this Dutch oven nice and hot before we put this in and make sure it’s got plenty of coals. It’s going to bake probably 20 minutes or so.

And there we go. This one’s definitely cool enough to handle. If we wanted this to really set up so that we might be able to get it completely out of the pan, you’ll want to let this cool overnight, maybe even in the refrigerator or someplace really cool to let it really solidify, because it’s going to be hard to get out of this tart tin. Some of those juices have boiled up out of it and come down the edges so it’s going to be hard to get out. I’m just going to take a slice out of this guy, because there’s no way at this kind of temperature that it’s going to come out whole.

Let’s give this a try.

That’s got an amazing punch to it. This is wonderful. I can see why they call it a lemon minced pie. It’s got a wonderful lemony flavor to it. That lemon peel and the lemon juice really come through and yet you get these other chunks of, I guess the meat of, the tart which is the apple and the raisin, which give you a wonderful sweetness, but the flavor that really comes through is the lemon.

So this concludes our Dutch oven series on a wonderful note. This will definitely make a wonderful dessert. If you’re in the field and want to do a simple one, excellent, you can make the crust right there. None of these things needs to be refrigerated so you can definitely do this in the field. So wonderful, if you get a chance, you can try this at home. Again, wonderful dessert dish. Definitely give this one a try.

I want to thank you for coming along while we experiment with these Dutch ovens, while we see exactly what you can do in a Dutch oven in the field. Amazing things, wonderful dishes, great. I want to thank you for coming along as we savor the flavors and the aromas of the 18th century.

If you’re new to our channel, I want to welcome you. You can subscribe by clicking the button right up here. Also check out our related videos. Thanks so much for watching.

1796 Beef Steak Pie

1796 Beef Steak Pie

Today we are doing a savory Beef Steak Pie using our Dutch oven. This recipe comes from Amelia Simmons’s 1796 cookbook American Cookery.

  • Puff Paste Pie Crust
  • ¼ pound Butter
  • 2 pounds Shoulder Beef Roast
  • White Onion
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Flour
  • Liquid of choice

Make sure to preheat your Dutch oven. This needs to cook rather slowly at a low temperature. We don’t want to overheat this, so maybe 300 degrees is what we’re shooting for.

Beef Steak Pie (Time 0_01_21;29)

To prepare this pie, I’m using a 9 inch red ware pie plate. Line the outside of the pie plate with puff paste which is a typical instruction you’ll get in 18th century cookbooks. You can use either puff paste that you buy at the store in the frozen food section or watch our video on making your own puff paste.

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I’m starting by placing a tablespoon and a half of butter in the bottom of my pie pan. I’ve taken a 2 pound shoulder roast and sliced it into about ½ inch thick slices and trimmed all the gristle out. I’m going to put a layer of steak in the pie pan and follow this with a little bit of salt and pepper, then sprinkle a nice bit of flour on top of that. We want a good layer of flour here to make a great gravy.

Next, I’ve got some nice big slices of white onion and top off this layer with another tablespoon of butter. You should be able to repeat this step for about 3 layers. Don’t make your layers too thick so that they can cook evenly. Once our pie has all the layers built together, now it’s time to put in some liquid. We can use a couple of different liquids such as water, hard cider, a small beer or light beer, or even mushroom ketchup. Anything is going to make a good liquid for our pie. It’s best to pour in some of the liquid around the edges right now before you put the top on, because it can be hard to get all the liquid that we want into the pie.

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Now it’s time to put on our puff paste top and pinch it down. You definitely want a good seal between the body of the pie crust and this lid so make sure to wet the edge if the top isn’t going to seal well. Once the lid is down nice and tight, then we’re going to cut a little hole in the top and pour in another tablespoon or two of our liquid and then we’re ready to bake.

Beef Steak Pie (Time 0_08_06;04)

Gently place the pie into your preheated Dutch oven and replace the lid. We want maybe a scoop and a half of coals around the bottom edge of this Dutch oven and maybe two scoops on top, two and a half scoops max. We don’t want to overdo this or else our meat will be tough if we cook this at too high a temperature. We also want to make sure to remember that we need to continue to rotate this oven 90 degrees every 15 or 20 minutes and rotate the lid separately, because our coals might be hotter on one spot than the other and we don’t want to overcook one spot over another.

Beef Steak Pie (Time 0_08_32;11)

When this pie is done, we definitely need to let this guy rest. It can even be eaten cold, and the colder we let this get, the more it’s going to come out in one piece.

Transcript of Video:

Dutch ovens were extremely versatile and that’s one of the reasons why they were so popular in 18th and 19th century North America. Today we’re doing a savory beef steak pie. Thanks for joining us today on 18th Century Cooking.

This recipe comes from Amelia Simmons’s 1796 cookbook American Cookery. If you haven’t watched our earlier Dutch oven cookery series explaining getting these ovens up to heat, I would encourage you to do so. I’m setting my 12 inch Dutch oven over a bed of coals and putting a few coals on top to preheat it so that it’s ready to go when we’re ready to put this pie in.

To prepare this pie, I’m using a 9 inch red ware pie plate. These are the pie plates that our Master Potter Gary Nieter makes. They’re wonderful pie plates. You can find them on our website or in our print catalog. I’m lining the outside of the pie plate here with puff paste and this is a real typical instruction you’ll get in 18th century cookbooks, to just line the outside with puff paste. You can use either puff paste that you buy at the store. You can find it in the frozen food section or there’s a video that we do on making your own puff paste. I’ll make sure to put a link down in the description section for that.

I’m starting by placing a tablespoon and a half of butter in the bottom of my pie pan. In this recipe, we’ll end up using about a ¼ of a pound of butter so be prepared for that. I’ve taken a 2 pound shoulder roast and I’ve sliced it into about a ½ inch thick slices and now I’m going to start to layer that in, so first we put in a layer of our steak. This is a really nice cut. I’ve already trimmed all the gristle out. I’ll follow this with a little bit of salt and pepper and then I’ll sprinkle a nice bit of flour on top of that. We want a good little layer here. This is going to make a great gravy.

Next I’ve got some nice big slices of white onion and I’ll top off this layer with another tablespoon of butter. Now we’re going to repeat this again. Again we’re going to put down a layer of steak nice and thin. We don’t want it to double up here and again we put on the salt and the pepper and the flour and then the onions again and after the onions, butter again. You should be able to get about 3 layers in your pie. Now that our pie has got all the layers built together, now it’s time to put in some liquid and we can use a couple of different liquids. We could use water, we could use hard cider or a small beer or a light beer if you’ve got that. Anything is going to make a good liquid for our pie. I’m going to pour in some of the liquid right now before I put the top on, around the edges because it can be hard to get all the liquid into the pie that we want to get.

Now it’s time to put on our puff paste top, and here’s our puff paste that we’re going to put on the top of our pie and we’ll put this on and pinch it down. You definitely want a good seal between the body of the pie crust and this top layer, this lid that we’re going to put on, so make sure to wet the edge if the top isn’t going to seal well. Now make sure to pinch this lid down nice and tight, then we’re going to cut a little hole in the top and then pour in another tablespoon or two of our liquid on top of that and then we’re ready to bake.

The pie is ready to go into the oven and of course I’ve already preheated this oven so it should be close to temperature. I don’t need to worry about that. Let’s go ahead and remove the lid and place this pie in here gently and let’s close this up. This needs to cook rather slowly at a low temperature. We don’t want to overheat this, so maybe 300 degrees is what we’re shooting for. We talked about trying to keep a lower heat in an earlier episode in this series; in this case we want maybe a scoop and a half around the bottom edge of this Dutch oven, so make sure to refresh your coals after you preheat it and maybe two scoops on top, two and a half scoops max. We don’t want to overdo this or else our meat will be tough if we cook this at too high a temperature, and from an earlier episode, we want to make sure to remember that we need to continue to rotate this oven 90 degrees every 15 or 20 minutes and we keep picking up and rotating it around and rotate the lid separately. You want to keep rotating the lid. The problem, especially in this case where we’ve got the fire pit off to the side, it’s going to be hotter on one side than the other, so that’s why we want to keep rotating it and our coals might be hotter on one spot than the other, we don’t want to overcook one spot over another so we keep rotating those, the lid and the body around a little separately.

Someone asked in an earlier episode about the tools I was using and really I only need a couple real good tools for a Dutch oven cooking. You can do without some of these but you really need a couple of them to do it well and to do it easily, let’s just say that. Mainly we definitely are going to need a Dutch oven, we sell a couple different sizes of those. A trivet is probably the next most important piece. A nice triangular trivet. If you don’t want to have a trivet like this, you can just use a couple of stones that are the same size, 3 or 4 stones or even an S-hook thrown in the bottom here, a couple S-hooks will do the same job, but the trivet does a really good job. I like to use a real trivet when possible. A pie pan, these pie pans are great and we use them so many times, if you want to keep things up off the bottom you’re going to need to cook on top of that trivet with something like a pie plate.

Also, a pair of these little ember tongs, excellent for doing individual pieces. Sometimes you want to get pretty precise, ember tongs help you pick those up and do some precise work. The Dutch oven lid lifter is a killer tool that really makes it much easier to get the lid off of these without them falling over. I mean you can just use a hook, but the lid can tilt and all your ashes can drop right into the Dutch oven which ruins it. The Dutch oven lid lifter helps you lift that up and with these extra prongs balance it so it stays level, so it’s a really handy tool and you can just use the hook to pick up the whole Dutch oven and rotate it. You’ll really need that tool. Also you’re going to need some kind of a shovel and you really don’t need a big shovel. These little hearth shovels that we have in the catalog are perfect. They pick up just the right amount of coals and they’re nice and small and they don’t have a handle that can burn up so they’re really handy for working with these Dutch ovens.

And the last tool I really suggest is a pair of leather gloves. We don’t have these in the catalog but you can get a pair of welding gloves, look for something that’s not looking too modern. You don’t want blue ones, so if you can find a nice pair of brown welding gloves, these make it so much easier to get those pie pans out of there or to just lift up the oven or the lid at times when you don’t want to burn yourself obviously so these are really helpful to have. There are some other tools that we don’t carry that can make it easier like sometimes there’s a special tool to lift pie plates up out of the Dutch oven, boy that’s a lot of bother to carry too many tools, this is probably enough for just about anybody.

Wow this looks tremendous. It is ready to go. You know this reminds me of the beef pasty we did a number of years ago.

So we definitely need to let this guy rest. It can even be eaten cold, and the colder we let this get, probably the more it’s going to come out in one piece. I can’t wait that long, so let’s cut into this so we can try it out.

Okay this really smells good and it’s time to try it out. I really want to put some mushroom ketchup on it right away but I’m going to wait because I want to see what this really tastes like before I put the wonderful mushroom ketchup on it.

That’s a tremendous mix of flavors. Excellent. The beef, perfectly tender, wonderful. Puff paste, you can’t go wrong, and that onion flavor in there along with the spices and I did not put too much pepper, do not worry, you can always put a little bit more on but it’s perfect medley of flavors. Amazing, and now let’s try it with the mushroom ketchup. I know this is really going to set it off.

Mmm. Wow, that little bit of vinegar taste and the extra salt and the mushroom flavor, to die for. I think I wanted, instead of the water, I should have just dumped mushroom ketchup in right on top before I cooked it. This would be a tremendous thing to cook at an event. Everyone will love you so you should try this one out. The flavors are tremendous. It’s not difficult to do. There aren’t even that many ingredients, so definitely try this one out. I want to thank you for coming along as we try these things out as we savor the flavors and the aromas of the 18th century.

If you’re new to our channel I want to welcome you. You can subscribe by clicking the button right up here, also check out our related videos. Thanks so much for watching.

Cheshire Pork Pie

Cheshire Pork Pie

  • Salt Pork
  • Apples
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • Butter
  • Water
  • Top and Bottom Pie Crusts

In our recipe, we’re going to be using salt pork.

Meat Pies (Time 0_01_24;00)

This is true 18th century style salt pork, not something like you might find on your grocery store bacon shelf, but a leaner cut hard packed in salt. We’re boiling our salt pork today for about an hour, so we don’t need to rinse it off quite as much as we normally would before using it. We’re going to slice it thin and then season it with a little pepper.

Meat Pies (Time 0_01_09;19)

Apples have been enjoyed for centuries by people. “Pippins” is a common name for apples in the 18th century. When choosing your pie apples, if you’re not just picking off a local tree, 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, not their taste, and they don’t make a very good pie apple at all.

Meat Pies (Time 0_01_31;25)

Peel, core, and slice your apples thin.

In a pie pan, place your bottom pie crust then layer your pork and apples alternately until full.

Meat Pies (Time 0_01_48;09)

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Once your pie is packed, add some salt and pepper to give it some flavor.

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Place some butter on top and add a couple of teaspoons of water.

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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.

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Place the second pie crust on top to cover it up, then trim and seal the edges. Now cut some vent holes in the top of the crust.

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Place in the oven with spacers to keep it from burning on the bottom. This will bake about 10 to 15 minutes depending on the temperature of your oven.

Meat Pies (Time 0_08_29;12)

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.

Mock Passenger Pigeon Pie

Mock Passenger 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 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. However, 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.

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  • 2 Cornish Game Hens
  • Onions
  • Flour
  • Butter
  • Stock
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Thyme
  • Top and Bottom Pie Crust

Simmer 2 Cornish game hens with onions and then pick the meat off and put it in a bowl.

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Now brown up a little bit of flour in some butter.

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Add some stock and let simmer a little bit. We’ll also season it with a little salt, pepper, and thyme.

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We’re going to put our pulled meat into a pie crust.

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Pour the warmed sauce on top of that and seal it up.

Meat Pies (Time 0_05_27;04)

Meat Pies (Time 0_05_37;10)

Meat Pies (Time 0_05_42;12)

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.

Meat Pies (Time 0_06_10;00)

To preheat your Dutch oven, simply leave it in the fire pit while making your pie.

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. Make sure you have plenty of space around the outside edge so you can reach in there without burning yourself.

Meat Pies (Time 0_06_41;14)

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.

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This will take about 10-15 minutes depending on the temperature of your Dutch oven so keep an eye on it. Remove the Dutch oven from the coals and remove the lid. Allow the pie to cool for a minute before removing from the Dutch oven.

Meat Pies (Time 0_08_57;16)

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.

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie

Today we’re going to be baking a pumpkin pudding, or as we know it, a pumpkin pie from Amelia Simmons’ 1796 cookbook, American Cookery.

Pumpkin Pie

  • 1 pint Pumpkin
  • 1 quart Milk
  • 4 Eggs well beaten
  • ½ cup Molasses
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Allspice
  • 2 Pie Crusts

Cut pumpkin in half, gut and bake upside down at 350 degrees for about an hour to soften.

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Peal and mash then add milk and mix.

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Next, add eggs, and molasses.

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Finally, mix in spices and pour into pie crust.

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Bake in oven at 325 for 75 minutes. Allow to cool before eating.

Transcript of Video:

In the last several episodes, we’ve been doing American Holiday recipes from Amelia Simmons’ 1796 cookbook, American Cookery. Today we’re going to be baking a pumpkin pudding, or as we know it, a pumpkin pie. Thanks for joining us today on 18th Century Cooking with James Townsend and Son.

You know, when we first read this recipe, we really weren’t quite sure. It seemed that the proportions really just weren’t going to work out, but we tried it anyway, and trust us, it works. Our recipe starts off with pumpkin. It calls for 1 pint of pumpkin. The best way I found to prep our pumpkin is to actually slice our pumpkin in half and take out the innards and then turn them upside down on a baking sheet and bake them for about an hour or so at about 350 degrees and that gets them nice and soft and the skin peels easily away and we can get our pumpkin out without any work at all. If you want to cheat and do it the simple way, just buy a can of pumpkin. That’ll work just as well. It looks like about half of this small pumpkin is going to be our pint.

Okay, that looks really good. Now we’re going to add 1 quart of milk. Now, this is where it was tricky, seemed like 1 quart of milk was going to be way too much. Let’s get this mixed in here. Our mixture’s very, very soupy. Now were going to add 4 eggs that we’ve already whipped together, and the recipe calls for molasses. Now, she doesn’t tell us exactly how much to use. I played around with this recipe a bit and a half a cup is probably about right. We’re not using a black strap molasses, but any grade of a lighter grade of molasses.

Our last ingredients are spices. We’re going to need a teaspoon of ginger and a teaspoon of allspice. We’re going to pour our pie filling into our pie crust. You can use any short paste for this recipe. It will work great. We did a previous episode on a short paste, so make sure to check that out.

This recipe makes enough for probably 2 pies. This will need to bake about an hour and 15 minutes, maybe an hour and a half at 325. This recipe actually calls for a lattice on top of this pie crust, but it turns out that this is so liquidy that it just sinks to the bottom, so just make this an open top pie.

Boy, this pie looks great, and I love pumpkin pie. Normally I’d be digging into it right now, but we’re just going to have to wait. We’re going to wait until this final episode of the series where we put together this whole feast based on the Amelia Simmons’ cookbook. I want to thank you for joining us today as we savor the flavors and the aromas of the 18th Century.

Cranberry Sauce And Cranberry Tart

Cranberry Sauce and Cranberry Tart

I love Amelia Simmons’ recipe for her cranberry sauce. It’s stew, strain, and sweeten. How difficult could it be right? We’re going to use the same techniques that we used when we made our currant jelly and a currant tart, so we’re going to make the sauce and then a tart.

Cranberrys

  • 2 pounds Cranberries
  • Sugar
  • 1 Paste or Pie Crust

Cranberry Sauce (Time 0_02_45;17)

Add just enough water to cranberries in cooking pot to cover and boil about 15 minutes until skins break open.

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Mash up cranberries to desired consistency (Be aware that cranberries stain everything).

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Strain in jelly bag.

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Add about the same amount of sugar as you have cranberry sauce to the cranberries and simmer another 10-15 minutes.

Pour half of cranberries into well buttered tart tin with paste, skimming off any foamy skin on top, and bake at 375 for about 25 minutes.

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Pour other half into bowl and allow to cool.

Cranberry Sauce (Time 0_04_38;08)

Full Transcript:

Now, I’m making a double batch. I’ve got two pounds of cranberries and I’m going to add just enough water to them to cover them. These will need to boil about 15 minutes and as they do, you’ll begin to see the skin begin to break open.

These boiled for their 15 minutes. We’re going to take a masher and mash them up. You do have to remember that if you do cranberries like this, whatever you use to mash them in will permanently be stained a nice cranberry color.

Ok, these are nicely mashed up. If you don’t have a sieve like this, you can use a jelly bag just like we used in the currant jelly video.

Cranberry must have a lot of pectin because it’s already starting to set up.

Pour the contents back into our cooking pot. Let’s sugar it. We need to add about equal quantities, so you’re going to have to sort of guess this unless you measure exactly what you’ve got here, but I think we’ll guess pretty well here. We’re going to stick this back on the fire and let it simmer another 10 or 15 minutes.

Half of this, I’m going to pour into this tart tin with a paste. Any foamy skin that appears on the top of your tart, you can just skim that right off. The other half we’ll pour into our little bowl here. This is our cranberry sauce and it’s going to thicken as it cools. The tart, we’re going to bake at 375 for about 25 minutes. Make sure the tart pan is well buttered so that the crust doesn’t stick. We’re not going to sample these right now. We’re going to wait to put these together into this wonderful holiday feast. I want to thank you for joining us today as we savor the flavors and aromas of the 18th Century.

18th Century Pasties: Addendum

IMG_3057

Here’s an interesting passage from William Ellis’s 1750 book, “The Country Housewife’s Family Companion” (page 65). Ellis speaks of the virtuous timing of slaughtering a “porker” prior to harvest. The scrap pieces of meat could be used in making portable meat pies or pasties for the harvest workers.

“…our Housewife takes [the pieces of meat], and chops them into Bits, about the Bigness of a Pidgeon’s Egg; then peppers and salts them pretty high, for at this Time of Year this is more than ordinarily necessary to be done, because these Pyes or Pasties are to be kept for some Days for being eaten cold. This done, make a regular Mixture of the fat and lean Pieces, if there be not fat Pieces enough, the Pye will eat dry, and if there be too much Fat, it will be apt to make the Harvest-men sick. Now with these fleshy and bony Bits of Meat, several large Pyes may be made, and baked, either in raised Paste, in earthen Pans, or in pewter Dishes, or in the Shape of turnover two-corner’d Pasties, and thus they become a most necessary and convenient Food at this Time of Year, for Farmers Families in particular, because the cold Pyes and Pasties are a portable, wholesome, and satiating Victuals for Breakfast or Dinner.”

For a nice pork pie recipe check out the recipe in our earlier post “A Pork Pie with a Standing Crust.”

 

18th Century Pasties, Part Two

18th Century Pasties, Part Two

As I began my quest to understand the 18th century pasty, I figured the first thing I needed to do was to leave behind all of my modern notions of what they were. I needed to travel light, leaving plenty of room for the period recipes and definitions and between-the-lines clues that I would gather as I combed through my resources. I visited many of the old cookbooks, dictionaries, journals, and magazines, looking for signs leading to a uniform definition, so that I could recommend the historically accurate method of making pasties. Whenever I hit a dead end,  I’d consult the secondary sources for hints that I may have overlooked.

After studying all the souvenirs I collected along the way, I decided to return home, leaving the path for others to explore. I did so not with some sense of defeat, but rather with the somewhat enigmatic conclusion that there simply is no definitive answer…no single historically accurate method of making an 18th century pasty.

pour

The Oxford English Dictionary claims pasties were pies made without a dish. This same definition can be traced back to 18th century dictionaries. Yet, the most commonly published recipes in 18th century cookbooks utilized baking dishes.

The Oxford Companion to Food attempts to delineate between pies and pasties by claiming either a multiplicity or singularity of  ingredients used in each dish. Yet you look across the terrain of period recipes and you’ll find the two terms, pie and pasty, are often used interchangeably (The Country Housewife Family Companion, for example, by William Ellis).

Hannah Glasse recommended the use of a baking dish. William Rabisha, in his 1682 cookbook, “The Whole Body of Cookery Dissected” suggested crimping together two pieces of pastry. Other authors recommended a tin patty pan.

Some pasties were baked. Others were fried (e.g., Charles Carter’s recipe, below, from his 1749 cookbook “The London and Country Cook“).

Pasty crusts were often highly decorated — one of many showpieces that might adorn a multi-course meal. Pasties were also made in a free-form crust to be taken into the field or on a journey to be eaten cold, out of hand. Ellis copies the following pasty recipe from Rabisha:

Rabisha’s Way to bake Brawn to be eaten cold.–Take (says he) your raw lean brawn, that is not useful to collar, and as much fat bacon, mince them small together, and beat them in a mortar; beat a good handful of sage with them; season them with some pepper, salt, and beaten ginger; pour in a little vinegar, and break in a couple of eggs; you may make a cold butter paste in a sheet form, and lay this your prepared meat on it; put in butter, and a few bay-leaves on the top, and so close up your pasty for baking.

(Brawn is any meat suitable for roasting, but often is the breast and/or leg of fowl.)

John Mollard, in his 1836 cookbook, “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy,” includes a recipe for a “Puff for a Journey.”

Given all the variations here, I suppose the Pork Pie I wrote about in an earlier post and that was featured in one of our earlier videos could technically be called a pasty as well.

So which style of pasty is most historically accurate? They all are. It seems the common denominator between all pasties is simply two things: a crust and a meat filling….oops, then again, there were fruit pasties. Ok, it seems there is ONE common denominator: crust.  And that takes us back to the O.E.D. which explains that the word “pasty” can be traced back through the Old French language to words from the ancient Latin dialect meaning, “something made of paste.”

I feel as though I’m walking in circles.

Why all the variations? It could be due to possible regional differences; possibly socio-economic differences as well. I mentioned in my last post that the beloved modern pasties that exist in similar form in insular regions throughout the United States, Latin America, Australia, and South Africa, are culinary descendants of the Cornish pasty of the Cornwall region of England. While the folded-over meat pastry may be the most common form of the pasty today, it appears it was only one of many forms in the 18th century.

Here’s our take on a recipe for a delicious meat pasty from an earlier version of Mollard’s cookbook:

Puffs with Forcemeat of Vegetables

Ingredients:

About 1 pound of veal, coarsely chopped (Beef will also do)
2 ounces Fat Bacon (modern-day salt pork or jowl bacon), coarsely chopped
1 cup each, green beans, asparagus, mushrooms, onion, parsley (all fresh), coarsely chopped
Salt and Pepper
1 cup Bread Crumbs
1 Egg Yolk
1/2 cup Cream

Puff Pastry Dough (see our previous blog post and video on making a puff paste)

Egg Wash

Lard, a sufficient amount for deep frying.

Directions:

Combine the veal and the vegetables in a large bowl, and season with salt and pepper.

fry1

Preheat a large skillet or spider and fry the fat bacon for 2 or 3 minutes until much of the fat is rendered. Add the meat and vegetable mix and fry for about 5 minutes. Return the mix to the bowl, add the bread crumbs, and allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

In a separate bowl, mix the egg yolk and cream together. Add this mixture to the meat and vegetable mix, and stir it until it is well incorporated.

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Roll out your puff pastry dough until it’s about 1/8″ thick, keeping it as square as possible. Then cut it into about 6″ squares. Once the meat and vegetable mix has cooled, spoon a portion of it onto the middle of each pastry square.

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Brush two of the edges of each pastry square with egg wash, fold the square over the meat mixture so that it forms a triangle, and crimp the edges closed.

deepfry1

In a cooking pot or kettle, preheat the lard to about 350-degrees (F). carefully add the pasties, 3 or 4 at a time, and fry for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. You’ll want to keep the lard around 350-degrees. Any lower, and the pasties will be greasy. Any higher, and the crust may become golden brown on the outside, but remain doughy on the inside.  Drain on sheets of paper or on a cloth.

done1

18th Century Pasties, Part One

18th Century Pasties, Part One

Say the word “Pasty” (pronounced “past-ee”), and you’ll likely receive a passionate Pavlovian response from hungry folks from several regions of the U.S. (i.e., Michigan’s U.P., or parts of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Montana, and California). Echoes of the lip-smacking cheers reverberate across the globe from distant parts in Mexico, Argentina, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. But the loudest ruckus of all comes from enthusiasts in a western region of England; whose fierce pride is expressed through laws and regulations that define authenticity while protecting the tried-and-true recipes of old — making the Cornish Pasty a National Heritage Food (and some would argue, a national treasure more valuable than even the Crown Jewels).

While other forms of hardy meat turnovers exist elsewhere around the world, the pasties so beloved in the regions mentioned above, find their common culinary roots in English cooking.  Food historians tell us that the free-form pasty co-migrated with 19th and 20th-century Cornish tin miners as the tin mines at home dried up and other hard-rock employment opportunities opened abroad.

Pasties have been a popular dish on English tables for centuries. The Oxford English Dictionary claims the earliest use of the word in English literature was in 1300. The OED’s definition of a pasty matches most modern expectations of the dish: a meat filling, enclosed in a crust of pastry, and baked without a dish. I have traced similar definitions at least as far back as 1764. Earlier definitions seem to be a bit more generic or obscure, describing a pasty as “a great pie” or “a pie made with flesh or fruit.”

An 18th Century Pasty with a "Proper Paste"

I think it’s important, however, to try to consider such definitions apart from our modern expectations. For instance, “baked without a dish” could mean the pie used a standing crust instead. But when one examines 18th century pasty recipes, contrary to contemporary definitions, a completely different sort of dish takes shape: most often it’s a meat pie prepared in an earthen dish that is partially lined with a thick puff paste and then topped with the same.

Now that’s not to say that the free-form versions of the pasty are an inaccurate option for historical re-enactors and foodies. I’ll share some period recipes free-form pasties in my next post. But today, I want to give you a typical 18th-century recipe for a beef pasty that uses what some cookbooks called “a proper paste” (I say that at the risk of raising the hackles of many free-form fans).

Our recipe comes from Charles Carter’s 1749 cookbook, “The London and Country Cook.

While most 18th century recipes were for venison pasties, other types of meats were used (e.g., beef, pork, mutton, and poultry). Most period pasty recipes also call for either neck, shoulder, or breast meat (brisket), while a few call for rump or sirloin. The previous cuts are from the front end of the animal, and are usually more flavorful than those from the rear. They are, however, also tougher due to high levels of collagen or connective tissue between the strands of muscle.

Collagen is broken down through slow roasting or boiling. Some of the best modern barbecue brisket can be roasted for 12 hours or more. If you try to roast your meat too quickly, it will turn out too tough to eat. Some 18th century recipes for venison pasties argue against what was apparently conventional wisdom: that one had to be careful not to overcook venison. To the contrary, these recipes claim that when it comes to pasties, you can’t overcook the meat. I suspect, that is why the pastry crusts on these pies are so extraordinarily thick — up to 1/2″ thick…before it’s baked! One such recipe even suggested covering the thick paste with buttered paper to prevent it from scorching due to the long baking time.

Many period recipes also suggest marinating and aging meat for several days, as well as beating it to a pulp with a rolling pin. This was done to further tenderize the meat. Beef was likely much tougher then than it is today. Most of the meat sold in U.S. markets is aged prior to hitting the store shelves, so we skipped this step…it’s another example of how modern food developments have made exact historic food reproduction difficult, if not in some cases impossible.

Carter’s recipe also uses cochineal — a red dye (“Natural Red 4”) derived from parasitic scale insects living off cacti throughout warmer climates. Carter’s recipe was the only one I found that used this ingredient. We’ve eliminated it from our rendition primarily because many people today are highly allergic to it. If you want to try it, you can purchase it online.

18th-Century Beef Pasty

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 1-1/2 pound Beef, cut into 1-1/2″ to 2″ chunks (we used chuck roast (or shoulder) …in honor of Charles Carter!)
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon each, Salt & Pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup Burgundy wine
  • 3 to 4 Tablespoons Suet, grated or crumbled fine (multiple period recipes suggest using butter instead)
  • 1 Puff Paste (if you need a recipe for puff paste, watch our video or read our earlier post.)
  • 1 pound Beef Bones, cut or broken into chunks
  • salt and pepper
  • Water

Directions:

wineSeveral hours before you wish to serve your pie, or even the night before, combine the beef, salt, pepper, and wine in a ceramic or glass bowl. Set aside to marinate.

Preheat your oven to 350-degrees (F).

cut

Roll out your puff pastry dough to between 3/8″ and 1/2″. Lay an inverted pie pan on top of your pastry and cut out a circle slightly larger than the pan. In the center of this circle, cut out a hold approximately 2″ in diameter. Save the plug from this hole.

crust

Turn your pan back over, and with the larger scraps of pastry, line only the walls (not the bottom) of your pan, keeping the pastry about 3/8″ thick.

decor

Combine and roll out the remaining pastry scraps until it is about 1/8″ thick. Cut out your decorations from this piece of pastry dough, and arrange them on the top of your pastry round.

suet

Fill your pastry-lined dish with your meat mixture. Top the meat mixture with the suet or butter. (If you are planning to use suet, be sure to first read our post on what suet is and what it is not.) Finally, cover the meat with the pastry round, and replace the plug that was cut from the center hole.

bones

Prior to placing the pasty in the oven, place your beef bones into a cooking pot, season with salt and pepper, and pour in just enough water to cover them. This will be placed in the oven and baked alongside the pasty. This will make a lear or thin gravy that will be poured into the pie once it’s done baking. Other recipes suggest placing the bones in a pot over medium heat and simmering the bones until the liquid is reduced by half.

Bake the pasty (and lear pot) for 2 to 2-1/2 hours. If your crust looks as though it’s getting too dark, cover it with paper.

pour

Once the pie has finished baking, remove the center plug from the crust. Strain the lear, discarding the bones, and pour the lear into the hole. Then replace the plug. Allow this to set for about 15 minutes before serving.

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