Sunday, 9 November 2014

Humble pie

Meat pies, sweet pies, I love them all.  But what about pies that fit into both categories?

This 16th century recipe combines spiced minced meat and dried fruit.  At the time this was a common flavour combination, but it's very different to the kind of flavours we're used to today.  The recipe says:

To bake the humbles of a Deere. Mince them verie small, and season them with pepper, Sinamom and ginger, and suger if you will, and cloues & mace, and dates, and currants, and if you will, mince Almonds, and put unto them, and when it is baked, you may put in fine fat, and put in suger, sinamom and ginger, and let it boile, and when it is minced, put them together.

Although the recipe doesn't say so, this is a pie filling.  My understanding is that the fat/sugar/cinnamon/ginger mixture is poured into the pie after it's baked to preserve it; it solidifies on top of the meat and keeps germs out, thus extending the pie's shelf life.

Ingredients ready to go.

Now, "humbles" means offal.  I did not use deer offal, I used venison mince.  I would be game to try it with offal, especially if the offal was braised heart, but they don't sell deer offal at the supermarket.  The mince is nice and convenient too, because it means all I have to do is mix all the filling ingredients together and dump them in a pie crust.  I haven't used any sugar, or any dates (because I discovered I didn't have any), but I did put crushed almonds in.  I didn't measure my spices either.  These old recipes don't provide measurements, and I tend to ignore measurements for things like spices anyway.

I baked the pie for half an hour at 200 degrees C.

So what was it like?

Really good, actually.  The combination of meat and dried fruit is unusual by modern standards, but it's tasty.  My opinion is that the almonds don't really add anything, and can be left out, but your mileage may vary.

The recipe could be made with beef instead of venison, but I wouldn't recommend it.  Beef mince is much fattier than venison and this pie requires very lean mince.  If you used a fattier meat, you would end up with a soggy pie swimming unpleasantly in grease.

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