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A Grete Pye


Main Dish





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1poundshortcrust pastry
1largeegg white, beaten until liquid
1poundchicken breats, skinned and boned
1Pigeon, or wild duck and/or
1rabbit, or Saddle of hare, not stewing meat
1salt, to taste
1black pepper, to taste
1poundbeef, minced
2tablespoonssuet, shredded
3largeeggs, hard boiled
1/4teaspooncinnamon, ground
1/4teaspoonmace, ground
1pinchcloves, ground
1ouncedates, stoned cooking, chopped
2ounceprunes, stoned, soaked and drained
1/2cupbeef stock
1tablespoonrice flour, or cornflour


No Christmas feast in medieval times was complete without a 'grete pye'. In some recipes, it could contain many varied meats, but quite
often only two or three different kinds were suggested; change the meats suggested here if you wish.

Use just over half the pastry to line a 23-cm/9-inch pie plate. Brush the inside with some of the egg white. Skin the pieces of breast and other meat if necessary and parboil them gently in salted water for 10-15 minutes. Drain and leave to cool.

Mix together in a bowl the minced beef, suet, salt and pepper to taste, the egg yolks and half the spice mixture. Add the rest of the spices to the dried fruit in another bowl.

Slice the parboiled meat. Pre-heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of the beef stock to the rice flour or cornflour in a small saucepan and cream them together; then add the remaining stock and stir over gentle heat until slightly thickened. Keep aside.

Cover the bottom of the pastry case with half the mince mixture. Arrange the sliced meat in a flat layer on top. Scatter the chopped spiced
fruit over it and cover with the remaining mince. Pour the thickened stock over the lot.

Roll out the remaining pastry into a round to make a lid for the pie. Brush the rim of the case with a little more egg white and cover with the lid. Press the edges to seal, and make escape slits for steam. Decorate with the pastry trimmings and glaze with egg white.

Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3 and bake for 45-50 minutes longer.

Serves 6 to 8.

Grete pyes. Take faire yonge beef, And suet of a fatte beste, or
of Motton, and hak all this on a borde small; and caste therto pouder
of peper and salt; and whan it is small hewen, put hit in a bolle.
And medle hem well; then make a faire large Cofyn, and couche som of
this stuffur in. Then take capons, Hennes, Mallardes, Connynges, and
parboile hem clene; take wodekokkes, teles, grete briddes, and plom
hem in a boiling pot; And then couche al this fowle in the Coffyn,
And put in euerych of hem a quantite of pouder of peper and salt.
Then take mary, harde yolkes of egges, Dates cutte in ij peces,
reisons of coraunce, prunes, hole clowes, hole maces, Canell and
saffron. But first, whan thoug hast cowched all thi foule, ley the
remenaunt of thyne other stuffur of beef a-bought hem, as thou
thenkest goode; and then strawe on hem this: dates, mary, and
reysons, &c. And then close thi Coffyn with a lydde of the same
paast, And putte hit in the oven, And late hit bake ynough; but be
ware, or thou close hit, that there come no saffron nygh the brinkes
there-of, for then hit wol neuer close.

Some extra information about this recipe provided by Alex Wollangk

This probably came from a book titled _A Fifteenth Century
Cookry Boke_ ((c) 1962 compiled by John L. Anderson and published by
Charles Scribner's Sons, NY NY) which in turn was taken from one of the
following manuscripts: Harleian MSS 279 (about 1430 A.D.) or 4010 (about
1450 A.D.), in the British Museum, or Ashmole MS 1429, Laud MS 553 or Douce
MS 55 (about 1450 A.D.), in the Bodleian Library.

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