Pyes of Pares
As prepared for Purgatorio Wooden Spoon Competition - 15th C recipe
August 23, 2003 being AS XXXVIII

My Recipe:
1 1/2 lbs each of veal and pork butt or stew meat - approx. - total of 3 lbs meat
1 cup beef broth
1 cup red wine
3 egg yolks plus 1 egg
2 tsp ginger (powder)
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1/2 c. currants
1/2 c. dates (minced)
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 c. butter
1/2 beef broth - or more if needed
1 egg (yolk in pastry - white to brush on top)

Make the pastry and set aside (refridgerate to keep the butter from softening).

Take the veal and pork and cut into 1/2" cubes. Put the veal, pork, broth, and wine in a heavy pot and bring to a boil. Simmer until there is no "pink" in the meat - about 20 minutes. Remove the meat to a separate bowl. Take the eggs and beat well. Add 2 tablespoons of the broth/wine mixture to the eggs while mixing. Slowly add the egg mixture to the rest of the broth/wine mixture while mixing. Add the ginger, sugar and salt to the meat mixture, mix well. Add the fruit to the meat mixture and mix well. Then add the egg broth to the meat mixture to coat well the meat and fruit.

Take 2/3rds of the pastry for the crust. Roll it out and line the 9" deep dish baking pan. Place the meat mixture in the pan. Cover with the rolled out remaining pastry. Brush the top with lightly beaten eggs white. Add a couple small vents to the top. Cook at 425 for 15 minutes and then reduce to 350 degree. Cook about 30 - 45 minutes or until pastry is well done and meat smells done (or registers an internal temperature of 175º.



The Recipe from the Original Text:

131. Pyes of Pares.
Smyte fayre buttes of porke & of vele together & put hit in a pot with fresch broth & a quantite of wyne; boyel all togedyr tyl hit be ynow, then put hit in a clene vessell. Put therto raw yolkes of enryon, poudyr of gynger, sigure & salt, mynsyd dates & reysons of corauns. & make a fayre thin past & cofyns, & do theryn thy stuf; & let hit bake ynowe, & then serve hit forth.

The Recipe by the Book's Author:
Paris Pies
3/4 lb each of veal and pork
3/4 cup meat or chicken broth
3/4 cup of red or white wine
4 egg yolks or 2 whole eggs

pastry for tart or pie
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup currants
1/4 cup minced dates

Cover the meat (ground or chopped) with the wine and some water, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Then remove it to a mixing bowl. Degrease the broth and add it to the bowl. Stir in the eggs, seasonings and fruit. Put the whole mixture in a pastry shell; add or omit a pastry cover, as you wish, and bake it about 350 degrees for about an hour.

The Source:
Hieatt, Constance B. An Ordinance of Pottage: An Edition of the Fifteenth Century Culinary Recipes in Yale University's MS Beinecke 163. Published by Prospect Books. 1988. ISBN 0 907325 38 6. Pages 88, 202.


Major Decisions Made in Developing this Recipe:

Veal & Pork - some of the recipe redactions by others grind the meat. While many of the meat pie recipes do call for ground meat, this one does not -- smyte fayre not smyte fyne. The meat is stew meat and when slow cooked becomes tender. Thus, the decision is how to cook the meat slow and make it tender rather than forcing it to be tender through grinding.

Broth - I chose beef broth, since I didn't have veal broth.

Wine - I chose red wine since the main wine in general use was a claret - a Bordeaux wine both grown in England and the Bordeaux region, which was an English holding, for import to England. One type of this is merlot and another cabernet sauvignon, both of which derive from the Bordeaux wines. The recipe indicates that more wine that broth was used so, I chose to add more wine if needed to cover the meat for the "stewing" portion of the recipe.

Eggs - the eggs are used here for thickening the wine broth so I treated them the same as if I was thickening soup with egg. I think this was what they were referring to as the "thin past", that it becomes, to coat the other ingredients.

Ginger, Sugar & Salt - the spice, sugar and salt are for flavoring. By waiting to add them until toward the end they don't become "tired". This is also indicated as they come in fairly late in the presentation of the original recipe. In addition, I did not want to overwhelm the meat flavors so used a relatively light hand.

Currents and Dates - the recipe specifies these. The objective was to put in enough to add a sweetness to the meat, but not overwhelm.

Pastry - in some of the recipes, the type of pastry is specified. Not so in this recipe other than to say "cofyns". For the meat pies and the sweet pies, care is being taken at the higher levels of society, by whose cooks these recipes are being written, that the pastry portion is subtle in flavor and appropriate to accompany the contents. Thus, I have chosen a short flaky pastry with an accompanying flavor suitable to the contents.

Cooking Time and Temperature - as previously mentioned the objective is a slow cook to make the meat tender. The time in the pastry is needed to both cook the shell and tenderize the meat which is already over half way cooked.


Other versions of the recipe consulted

Austin, Thomas, ed. Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books. Harleian MS. 279 (a.b 1430) & Harl. MS. 4016 (ab. 1450), with extracts from Ashmole MS. 1439, Laud MS. 553, & Douce MS 55. Published by Oxford University Press for The Early English Text Society. Unaltered reprint in1996 of the 1888 text. ISBN 0 85991 849 1.

Harleian MS. 279 -- pg. 53 Cookery Book I
.xxvij. Pyes de Pares. Take & smyte fayre buttes of Porke, & buttys of Vele, to-gederys, & put it on a fayre potte, & do Þer-to Freyssche broÞe, & a quantyte of wyne, & lat boyle alle to-gederys tyl yt be y-now; Þan take it fro Þe fyre, & lat kele a lytelle; Þan caste Þer-to yolkys of Eyroun, & pouder of Gyngere, Sugre, & Salt, & mynced Datys, & Roysonys of Coraunce; Þen make fayre past, and cofynnys, & do Þer-on; kyuer it, & let bake, & serue forth.

Harl. 4016 -- pg. 75-76 Cookery Book II
Pies of Parys Take and smyhe faire buttes of porke and buttes of vele togidre, and put hit in a faire potte, And putte thereto faire both, And a quantite of Wyre, And lete all boile togidre til hit be ynough; And then take hit fro the fire, and lete kele [a litel, and cast ther-to raw yolkes of enren), and pouudre of gyngeuere, sugre and sald, and mynced dates, reysyns of corence: make then coffyns of feyre past, and do it ther-ynne, and keuere it & lete bake y-nogh.]

** footnote [ ] was added from Douce due to loss of pages in original text

Also printed in Renfrow, Cindy Take a Thousand Eggs or More: A collection of 15th Century Recipes, Volume One. Self Published. Copyright 1990. Third Printing 1993. ISBN 0-9628598-0-X. Page 124-5.
Note that Ms. Renfrow also includes her version of the recipe.

Harl 279 also "printed" and redacted with recipe at

Harl. 4016 also printed and redacted with recipe in Hieatt, Constance B., Brenda Hosington, and Sharon Butler. Pleyn Delit: Medieval Cookery for Modern Cooks. Published by University of Toronto Press. 1976. ISBN 0-8020-7632-7. Recipe 109.


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