Turkey Pie

To baje a Turkie and take out his bones.
Take a fat Turkie, and after you haue scalded him and washed him cleane, lay him vpon a faire cloth and slit him throughout the backe, and when you haue taken out his garbage, then you must take out his bones so bare as you can, when you haue so doone wash him cleane, then trusse him and pricke his backe toghether, and so haue a faire kettle of seething water and perboyle him a little, then take him vp that the water may runne cleane out from him, and when he is colde, season him with pepper and Salt, and then pricke hym with a fewe cloues in the breast, and also drawe him with larde if you like of it, and when you haue maide your coffin and laide your Turkie in it, then you must put some Butter in it, and so close him vp. in this sorte you may bake a goose, a Pheasant, or Capon.
Thomas Dawson, The Good Huswife’s Jewell, f13v

To bake a turkey and take out his bones.
Take a fat turkey, and after you have scalded him and washed him clean, lay him upon a clean cloth and slit him down the back, and when you have taken out his garbage, then you must take out his bones as best as you can, when you have so done wash him clean, then truss him and prick his back together, and so have a faire kettle of seething water and parboil him a little, then take him up that the water may run clean out from him, and when he is cold, season him with pepper and salt, and then prick him with a few cloves in the breast, and also draw him with lard if you like of it, and when you have maid your coffin and laid your turkey in it, then you must put some butter in it, and so close him up. in this sort you may bake a goose, a pheasant, or capon.

Turkeys were introduced to Europe some time in the mid sixteenth century, most likely via Spain, and quickly became a popular bird in England. Their oddity almost made them a status bird, to be served by any fashion-thinking host at a feast.

However, many who have cooked turkey at Christmas have discovered, turkey can be a difficult bird to roast; it has an annoying tendency to dry out, and at this point it becomes tough to chew and quite tasteless. When I saw the recipe above, I thought that loading the turkey up with lard and butter, and then wrapping it in pastry, would stop it from drying out as it cooked. It is a short step from boning the bird and wrapping it in pastry, to cooking it in a pie.

Ingredients

Pie Filling

1 kg turkey shanks 25g lard
25 g butter Salt
½ tsp cloves ½ tsp pepper

Pie Filling

360g Flour 180g water 125 g lard

 

Method

  1. Bone the turkey shanks and remove the cartilage. Chop into chunks.
  2. Put the turkey into boiling water for a few minutes, then remove and leave to cool.
  3. To make the pastry, put the lard and water into a pot and bring to the boil. When the water is boiling and the lard is melted, add the boiling liquid to the flour and mix into a smooth pastry.
  4. Roll out 2/3 of the pastry to approx. 5mm thick, and add to a pie tin. Dot the bottom of the pastry with butter.
  5. Mix the turkey with the cloves, salt and pepper, and put in the pie shell. Dot the top with lard.
  6. Roll out the rest of the pastry to make a pie lid and press down to seal the pie.
  7. Bake the turkey pie in a 200° oven for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 180° and cook for approximately an hour.

 

Further Reading

Food Timeline article about the history of turkey, available here.

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