Sunday, February 14, 2010

Meat Pies and somewhat original pastry

(November 28, 2009)

Been thinking how odd some things tend to go SCA-wise...

I personally dislike having to erode authenticity with originality with some things... With stuff like illumination, there is an obvious place for creativity, it just belongs! But it's more obvious where it should go and where it should not. Ask a scribe... changing the theme of the painting to suit a theme or person is good use of creativity or re-creating a style from scratch rather than direct copy is fine but a mismatch in calligraphy or badly chosen colours is usually not so much of a good thing.

What about food? How creative is too creative? The last thing I would ever want to do is give the idea that something was a period recipe that is not. Yes, sure... in the past we have created dishes that were more medieval-like than period as we could do it... but in recent years I have made personal strives to only offer things I can back up to original source/transcription/transliteration/transcription...

Maybe I just have far too much time to think?
Yeah, that could be it.

Anyhow... not fully worked out yet, but here is Mergriet's Meat Pastry.

Pastry: To every 2 cups of flour, have 1/4lb of butter melted in hot water. To make the pastry, pour the butter (using a spoon) into a hole made in the flour adding as much of the hot water as needed to make a pliable, yet stiff, paste. This will be a heavy paste and will likely respond to being beat with the rolling pin (on a floured surface) to make it into shape before rolling. This paste can be built up by hand, or for a finer finish, it can be cooked in a ring (on a sheet) or in a pan where is can then be very easily removed.
For a lighter paste, use more butter... 1/2lb butter will make for a shorter paste but will still be heavy enough to hold shape and will be easier to consume.

Make a coffin, fill, lid and bake till done.

Filling: To a pound of Beef, finely chopped, add the same in raisins, chopped and half as much suet, chopped. (If the beef is fatty, add only 1/3-1/4 as much suet if desired) To this add 2 tsp ginger, 1 tsp pepper and 1/2 tsp cloves and about a 1/3 cup sugar. Add a splash of vinegar and enough wine to cook the beef. Cook this on a low fire until the meat is done, test and alter sugar-spice/wine-liquid accordingly. To bake, it should be fairly moist rather than dry.

This is based on meat-pastry recipes from:
I got the original directions for the paste from a different source years ago and have been tweaking it and making it from memory.

Notes: It has a refreshing sort of feel to it and it quite good cold and travels well, it's also reminiscent of mincemeat but feels more like a dinner as opposed to today's very rich and heavy dessert dish.
--If you like a meatier tasting dish with less fat, try halving the amount of raisins and using the 1/4lb measure of fat.
--I'm quite fond of it simply potted with a pastry cover.
--As with how I grew up knowing how to make a meat pie, the beef was always cooked before hand either through boiling or baking... so... one could give it a head start in a little water and quickly cooked, I have tried that as well and it works well... this way the flavours do tend to stay around the meat rather than in it giving each bite a burst of beef, nummy. This can be documented to early 17th century cookery so likely possible for earlier but would have to do a little reading before I say so for sure.
--IMPORTANT: Where you cook the meat before chopping, measure the meat after you cook it. You could estimate about half the weight of raw poundage for a rough guess if you wish to measure before boiling.
--I'll be making a pie today, most likely... because we like it so much. This is very close to the potted pastry from the same source except with the addition of raisins and being in a full paste. (thinking a full pie would make for a better photo op.

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