#403 Raised Mutton Pies

Just a quickie from theMeat Pies &Puddings part of the Meat, Poultry & Game Chapter:

This is the last of the raised pie recipes in English Food. It’s a little different in that you don’t need to make a jellied stock like the others, but a gravy made from mutton bones.

If you can’t get hold of mutton, then lamb will do just as well.

To make the pie, you will need to make a batch of hot water pastry – have a look at the post #282 Raised Pies. It also goes through the process of making the pies themselves. In this case, the pies are to be made small. To do this you can use wooden pie dollies or jam jars and raise the pastry around them. Alternatively, and much easier, is to use muffin tins and roll pastry to fit.


For the filling, you need a whole best end of neck of mutton, or a pound of fillet meat. Make sure the butcher give you the bones of the sheep. Chop the meat finely, including some fat. Finely chop 3 shallots or 4 ounces of onion along with 4 ounces of mushrooms and a tablespoon of parsley. Mix all of these together with the meat and a teaspoon of dried thymeand salt and pepper. Place in a pan with ¼  pint of water, bring to a simmer and let it tick over for 5 minutes. Cool.


Fill your pastry cases, however you have constructed them, with the mixture and bake for 25-45 minutes at 200⁰C, depending on size.


Once whipped out of the oven, pour in gravy made from the bones. There is no instruction from Jane as to how to make this, but it’s pretty easy. Make a stock from bones, trimmings and some stock veg. Reduce it and mix into a roux of butter and flour to thicken it up.


#403 Raised Mutton Pies. These were great – I must admit I was a little dubious of the watery filling, but it really was delicious, the vegetables and herbs made the water into a delicious stock, which reduced during baking. They were so good, I added them to one of pop-up restaurant menus. 8/10.


#322 To Make a Goose Pye

What do you get for the person who has everything at Christmas? A giant pie of course. This goose ‘pye’ consists of an ox tongue within a chicken within a goose within a hot-water crust, so it’s not for the faint-hearted.

Great big pies like this were often given as gifts at Christmas time. The many meats were covered in a nice thick crust, not just because it tastes good, but also to help preserve and protect them – after all, these pyes were travelling by horse and carriage! These days, it is best as ‘a splendid centre-piece for a party’. Indeed, that the was the reason why I made it – my bosses Dave and Joan were hosting a Christmas party, and my fellow workmates are quite enthusiastic about the blog so I knew they’d all be up for this pye. Personally, I have always wanted to do this recipe – these crazy recipes are the reason why I love doing this blog. It comes from Hannah Glasse’s classic 1774 book Art of Cookery:

Half a peck of flour will make the walls of a goose pie…Raise your crust just big enough to hold a large goose; first have a pickled dried tongue boiled tender enough to peel, cut off the root, bone a goose and a large fowl; take half a quarter of an ounce of mace beat fine, a large teaspoon of beaten pepper, three teaspoons of salt; mix all together, season your goose and fowl with it, then lay the fowl in the goose, and the tongue in the fowl, and the goose in the same form as if whole. Put half a pound of butter on the top, and lay on the lid. This pie is delicious, either hot or cold, and will keep a great while. A slice of this pie cut down across makes a pretty little side-dish for supper.

Griggers kindly converts all the quantities into modern-day terms – less flour can be used (unless you are having it sent somewhere by horse!) and birds are rather larger nowadays. Good old Griggers. It is certainly the most extravagant recipe I have done thus far and possibly the most complicated; the recipe itself is quite straight-forward, but it requires a boned goose and a boned chicken, something that I had to do myself. Would the effort be worth it..?

There is a certain amount of preparation required if you are to do this from scratch. The first thing is to pickle an ox tongue in brine (see here for instructions) and cook it (see the recipe here for making pressed tongue; there is no need to press it). You need 2 ½ pounds of cooked tongue, so start with one that weighs at least 3 pounds. Next is the birds: you need a 10 pound goose and a 5 pound chicken. If you can, ask the butcher to bone them for you, if that is not possible, try doing it yourself – all you need is a bit of patience and some good sharp knives. I followed the method on this website for boning a chicken, but had to change the instructions somewhat for the goose as it is much trickier than a little chicken. So here’s a little digression as I give you my version…

Boning a bird is actually quite easy – what you are essentially doing is undressing the meat from the skeleton of the fowl. As you can imagine, it is a little gory.

First thing to do is to cut off the wing-tips and then to peel the skin away from the shoulders and cut through the joints.

Next, pull on the wing bone and scrape the meat from it as you go, turning the wing inside out. Repeat with the other shoulder joint.
Now remove the wishbone from the top of the breasts and start cutting the meat away from the ribcage, pulling the meat back. Keep doing this around the whole of the body. When you are about half-way down, sit the bird up and let the meat hang down by its own weight. When you get to the hips, you need to pop the femur out of its socket, then continue until the whole of the carcass is removed from the bird. You can then remove the leg bones in very much the same way as the shoulder and wing bones. Getting through that socket is very tricky with a large bird like a goose because of the large joint and large amount of fat surrounding it – to get around this, I flexed the knee joint and cut through that so I could scrape the meat off the bones from the direction of the knee.

When the leg bones have been removed, all you have to do is turn the bird outside in. Don’t forget to turn the bones, trimmings and giblets into stock.

So, you have your tongue and you have your birds, next you need to get working on the hot-water crust. You need to make a crust using 3 pounds of flour. I’ve blogged about hot-water pastry before, so follow this link. I made it in 3 batches – the first I used to form the base. I made lots of smallish pastry balls to cover the inside of a glass roaster measuring about 12” x 9” x 2” and pressed them out to make a single layer that overlapped the edges of it.

Next, mix together ¼ ounce of ground mace, 2 heaped teaspoons of ground black pepper and 5 rounded teaspoons of sea salt.

Now place the tongue in the chicken and rub in around a third of the spice mix into the chicken…

before gingerly wrapping fitting inside the goose. Place the goose in the pie and rub in the remainder of the spice and salt mix.

Lastly, smear two ounces of butter over the top of the goose.

Now roll out the rest of the pastry and cover the top of the pie, using some water as a glue. It is quite tricky to pick up such a large piece of pastry without it breaking – so use a rolling-pin and wrap it around it and unfurl it atop the pie. Crimp the edges, trim and decorate with the trimmings. Brush with beaten egg and make a central hole for the steam to escape.

Place it on a baking tray and bake the pie at 220°C (425°F) for 20 minutes and then turn the heat down to 180°C (350°F) and bake for another 2 hours. If the pie is browning too much, cover it with brown paper to protect it. If the pie bubbles ferociously, then turn down the heat again to 140-150°C (275-300°F). Loads of fat comes out the central hole, hence the precaution of the baking tray. I had to empty it twice during the whole process. I reserved it for making roast potatoes in the future, of course.

If you are wanting to serve it cold, then like most cold pies, it is best to make it a couple of days in advance so that the flavours can develop.

#322 To Make a Goose Pye. What a spectacle this pye was – especially when sliced up. I expected it to be rather macabre, but it wasn’t. It was indeed a ‘pretty little side dish’. The meat inside was wonderfully moist and a good jelly had formed inside without the need for jellied stock. Some people were a little suspicious of the tongue, but everyone seemed to like it. The only problem – though others disagreed – was that it was rather under-seasoned for me; with an extra 50 per cent salt, pepper and mace, this very, very good pye would have been excellent. 8.5/10

#312 Pork Pie

Provocative of indigestion as that pie may seem to you, it was put together by a lovely cousin at Melton Mowbray, whose fair hands are equally skilful in rendering a sonata of Beethoven, or in compounding the gastronomic mysteries of the kitchen.”
Excerpt from Dialogues of the Living – Table Talk by J Hollingshead,
appearing in The Train magazine, 1857

The pork pie is the ultimate raised pie in England and the best come from Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, a very old English town, founded around the 8th Century. The Melton Mowbray hand-raised pork pie attained Protected Geographical Indication status in 2008 – this means that only pies made within Melton Mowbray can proudly bare the town’s name. If you buy a pork pie that doesn’t bear the name, then it is not the real-deal. Unfortunately, Cornwall missed the boat in getting their pasties recognized by the EU, so a Cornish pasty can proudly bear the Cornish name, when it was actually baked in Milton Keynes or whatever.

The Olde Pork Pie Shoppe –
the best place to buy a proper Melton Mowbray pork pie

So what makes a Melton Mowbray pork pie special, other than the location it was made in? Well, first they should be hand-raised, second the pork inside should be uncured and the bacon unsmoked. There is also a secret ingredient: anchovy essence. Anchovy essence is not widely available these days, but it is possible to find it. In America, you’ll have to order some from Amazon. You could cheat of course by using some nam pla – Thai fish sauce. There is no difference between them at all. Don’t be put off by this, the sauce gives the meat a delicious seasoning. In fact it is quite common to use anchovies in this way with lamb, and oysters are great in a steak and kidney pudding. We have stopped combining our fish and meat these days, yet have no issue when we eat them together when we order dishes from a Far Eastern restaurant. Strange.

The main difficulty for anyone who may want to attempt this recipe in the USA is not finding the anchovy essence – oh no – it is the unsmoked bacon that is the tricky customer. I hunted high and low for it when I was in Houston, but I never found wet-cured, unsmoked back bacon. I assumed that if I wanted to make a pie whilst living in the States, I would simply have to wet cure my own. However, at a Farmer’s Market in Chicago, I happened upon a stall selling not only unsmoked back bacon, but also traditional British sausages. The stall is run by an English chap, who coincidentally comes from Leeds too, called Nicholas Spencer. Check out his website here. He said he’ll be doing mail order soon, so I am looking forward to that.


Anyways, if you want to have a go at making your own traditional pork pie you need to get planning! It is quite an effort, though very good fun. I’ve already posted about making raised pies. In brief (with links) you need to get three things ready: hot water pastry for the raised crust, a jellied stock, and the filling itself. I’ll provide you with the recipe for the pork pie filling here…

First of all prepare the pork. You will need two pounds altogether  – boned weight. You need a cut of pork that is around one-quarter fat, so go for shoulder, leg or ribs. Make sure you get the bones form the butcher so you can use them in your jellied stock. Also at the butchers, get yourself an eight ounce pack of unsmoked back bacon. When you get home, chop the meat. Keep the best bits chunky, in around a centimetre dice, the other bits, chop finely. This is a bit of an effort, but it is this chopping – rather than mincing – that gives you the proper texture. Also, chop up two rashers of the bacon. Into a bowl, put in your chopped meat and mix in the following: a teaspoon of chopped sage, a teaspoon of anchovy essence and half a teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Lastly, season well with salt and pepper. If you want to check the seasoning is correct, take a small amount of the mixture and fry it. Taste and correct accordingly.
When it comes to putting the pie together, use the remaining bacon to line the raised pie crust, add the mixture, packing it in well.

Cover with a pastry lid and finish it off, following the method in the raised pies post.

What should one eat with a pork pie? These pies are great for buffets and picnics, so eat whatever you are serving at your buffet or picnic… Personally, I like some nice brown HP sauce or maybe tomato sauce. Some like to warm the pies and have them with mushy peas. I have been eating mine with the preserved spiced oranges I recently cracked open – a really good combination that.

#312 Pork Pie. It seems you can never be let down by these raised pies. This one was great: the mild herbs and spices gave  the meat a subtly complex flavour. The idea of a cold meat pie feaked a few people out at work, and  suppose the jelly is something you either love or hate. I have been eating the pie slowly over the last few days, and it seems to get better as it ages. Very good, not quite as delicious as the Veal, Ham and Egg Pie, but still pretty tasty. 8/10.

#284 Veal, Ham and Egg Pie

Okie dokie, so the last two posts have all been on the subject of raised pies. The first one explained how to bake and construct one, and the second explain how to make the jellied stock. Now it is time for an actual filling to complete the full recipe.
This is the first of several fillings for raised pies from the book, and I must admit that I have been putting off making one in case it was a disaster. In the end it was a delight to make.
I chose this recipe because it seemed the most basic, with the easiest ingredients to get hold of; the nearby Central Market sells a range of veal cuts, which are usually tricky to get hold of. Strangely enough, the tricky item to get hold of was the unsmoked and raw ham, gammon or bacon. I searched high and low for it, but to no avail. Luckily, I am now pretty good in the kitchen these days and knew I could cure my own ham overnight in the brine tub I now have sitting at the back of the fridge ready to leap into action whenever I need an emergency curing. I bought a bit of pork loin as it is the leanest cut.
So, to make the filling you will need to hard boil and shell four eggs. Whilst they are bubbling away, get the meats ready: cut up 1 ½ pounds of ‘pie veal’ (I took this to mean cuts for casserole, like shoulder) along with 12 ounces of unsmoked bacon, ham or gammon. You want chunks around a centimetre in size. Add the grated rind of a lemon, a tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley, a teaspoon of dried thyme. Mix these together well with a decent  amount of seasoning. Pack half of the mixture in the pastry-lined mould. Place the eggs inside and then the remaining filling (see the raised pie post for pics of this). Then bake as described in the raised pie post.
#284 Veal, Ham and Egg Pie. Whew! This pie pretty much took me a whole Sunday to make. It was worth it though. The filling was wonderfully light and fresh tasting due to the herbs and lemon and the meat flavour was quite subtle, the whole thing kept moist by the jellied stock. The pastry was crisp and tasty too – hot water pastry is so easy, I can’t believe I put it off for so long. I brought it into work for people to try and it seemed to go down pretty well and I’ve been eating it through the week. There’s one slice left know, and I already miss it. Cannot wait to try the next one. I think i have found my calling as an artisan pie-maker extraordinaire! An excellent pie! 8.5/10 (I’m not marking it higher, in case the others are even more delicious!).