Elizabethan Food - A Great English Pie
Great British Food
Strictly authentic Elizabethan food would seem rather strange to our tastes, but the principles can easily be adapted for the modern palate, as the authors of Canteen's Great British Food (Ebury Press, £16.99) demonstrate with this wonderfully Shakespearean recipe. Inspired by the spices, fruit, nuts and game of Elizabethan food they have created this Duck, Chestnut and Prune Pie. It would be ideal served hot for Christmas dinner or a special occasion, and is also great eaten cold. The recipe appears with permission.
Ingredients – Serves 6
For the pie:
3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
100g carrots, diced
100g celery, diced
100g celeriac, diced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
250ml pale ale
250ml meat stock (see below)
20 fresh sage leaves, chopped
big pinch of ground mace
big pinch of ground allspice
500g skinless duck leg meat, cut in chunks
200g leeks, diced
80g peeled cooked chestnuts, chopped
50g stoned prunes, chopped
2 tbsp cornflour
salt and black pepper
700g puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
For the meat stock:
Bones from roast meats
Parsley, sage, thyme and rosemary stalks
Onion, leek, carrots and celery peelings and trimmings
20 black peppercorns
6 bay leaves
Any juices and scrapings from roasts
To make the meat stock:
Place everything in a big pot, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Turn down to the lowest heat possible and skim off any fat with a ladle. Simmer for 2-3 hours.
Pour the liquid through a fine strainer set in a bowl. Discard the bones, vegetables and flavourings. Pour the stock back into the pot and bring to the boil. Reduce by half of until you have a good strong and meaty-tasting stock.
To make the duck, chestnut and prune pie:
Heat up the oil in a big saucepan. Add the onion, carrots, celery and celeriac and sweat for 10–15 minutes until soft. Add the garlic, ale, stock, sage, mace, allspice and duck leg meat plus some salt and pepper. Cover and cook on a low heat for 1–1½ hours until the meat is very tender.
Preheat the oven to 170˚C. Butter the inside of a 28-30cm oval pie dish that is at least 8cm deep.
Roll out the pastry on a well-floured board to a thickness of 3mm. Cut out an oval piece of pastry to line the dish. The pastry needs to be long and wide enough to cover the bottom and sides of the dish, with some extra for overhang. Place in the dish, leaving the edges hanging over the sides.
Brush the overhang with a little beaten egg. Fill with the cold pie filling. Cut a piece of pastry for the lid – this should be slightly larger than the dish – and lay it over the filling. Dip your fingers in flour and pinch the edges of the lid to the edges of the pastry lining the dish, to seal them together. Trim off excess pastry with a knife.
Cut three or four 1-cm slits in the lid, to allow steam to escape during baking. Brush the lid with beaten egg to glaze. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbling around the edges and through the slits in the lid. Serve hot.
As you can see, Elizabethan food can easily be adapted to today's culinary tastes.