Sunday, May 26, 2019

A hearty Sunday lunch

I'd be inclined to marinade the pigeon breasts in the port and herbs overnight. And I'm afraid with that many whole cloves the pie is going to taste of cloves and nothing else - which is a pity considering how expensive those truffles must have been. I would have ground the cloves very fine, mixed them with the other spices and used only two or three at most for the whole mix.

Boiled crust, also called hot water crust or standing crust, is a lost art, but SO easy you won't even believe. It's very forgiving with none of that annoying fussing over not allowing the gluten to develop, making sure everything's ice cold, etc. that can intimidate beginner pie-makers.

My own little efforts, some years ago; piggy pies for an Epiphany dinner party in Santa Marinella. Unfortunately, the juice boiled out of the steam holes and discoloured the top of the pie, rather spoiling the effect, but it was pretty good for a first effort. Make sure the crust on the sides is as thin as you can make it. This is quite a heavy pie crust, and a little goes a long way.

This, of course, is also how you make a classic Melton Mowbray pie, which is served cold at lunch with some nice hot English mustard. You bake it, then pour the gelatine and stock mix into the holes and refrigerate until the gelatine sets. If you can find small spring-form cake tins these really help with forming the crust into the traditional shape. Line the tin with some baking paper, so even if the stock boils out a bit, it won't stick to the tin. Spring form baking pans come in every size and are one of the most useful multi-purpose things you can have in the kitchen.

Raised pies are something that need to be revived. It's an entirely different sort of pie crust than we're used to, being designed to be waterproof. In fact, boiled pie crust was intended to form a seal that helped to preserve the meat inside and they were often kept for a long time in a cool place like a root cellar or dairy. In the old days, one didn't eat the crust (unless one were poor) but treated it the way we do the wrapper on a hamburger.

A standing pie is a great way to use up leftover turkey or chicken or any cooked or roasted meat. They're especially nice with sliced apple or carrots, caramelised onion or some other lightly flavoured, sweetish vegetable. (Pass on the brussel's sprouts though, or any brassicas).


NIdahoCatholic said...

Thanks for the tasty article with cooking videos. For your readers, they should know that Jas. Townsend & Sons have many 18th century cooking videos at

Rubricarius said...

Please explain how you would treat leftover chicken or roasted meat. If you baked that in a crust for an hour or so would it not dry out?

KCK said...

Oh my gosh! Two of my very favorite youTube channels in one blog post *faints*. Hope you're doing well, Hillary!

John F. Kennedy said...

Looks good.

If you are interested in this sort of old fashioned cooking you may be interested in a Cookbook based on the adventure novels by Patrick O'Brian. A couple of women when through the 12 novels and selected a series of meals and dishes to recreate using historical cooking practices and ingredients (when possible). The book title is "Lobscouse & Spotted Dog - Which It's a Gastronomic Companion to the Aubrey/Maturin Novels of Patrick O'Brian"

Here is their website where they have some photos and commentary on some of the dishes.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...


Nope. The point of boiled or hot-crust pastry is that it retains the moisture of whatever is inside it. It's why you can make a meat pie with gravy using this method. The gravy may boil out of the steam hole a bit, but you get a nice filling. If you are dealing with leftover turkey or chicken dinner, make sure the gravy or jelly left over from roasting is included in the pie filling. If you're worried about it being too dry, if you didn't have much gravy to start with, you can just mix up a little oxo or bullion cube broth - boiling water and an oxo cube or packet - and add it to the filling. And i think for a pre-cooked filling, you don't have to bake it for so long. Try a very hot oven for a shorter time; this will heat up your filling to a good temp (same temp as for roast meat in the first place) and give you a nice crisp and browned pastry crust.

John F. Kennedy said...

I've made this Chicken Pot pie several times and it is quite good.

Use left over chicken, use the ingredients as specified or throw in other vegetable leftovers. It makes a great winter meal.