Sam’s historical recipe corner: Tudor vegetable pie

In each issue of BBC History Magazine, we take a step back in time and recreate a recipe from the past. This Tudor pie would be eaten on days when abstinence from meat was practised...

Tudor pie.

This 1596 recipe for a “pie of bald meats [greens] for fish days” was handy for times such as Lent or Fridays when the church forbade the eating of meat (another similar recipe is called simply Friday Pie). Medieval pastry was a disposable cooking vessel, but in the 1580s there were great advancements in pastry work. Pies became popular, with many pastry types, shapes and patterns filled with everything from lobster to strawberries. This pie’s sweet/savoury combo is typical of Tudor cookery: I enjoyed it, but was glad I’d reduced the sugar content.
• Pastry: 1lb plain flour, 5oz butter, 1 egg
• 8oz mixture of spinach, lettuce, cabbage, chard
• 2oz raisins, chopped
• 1oz grated hard cheese
• 2oz fresh bread crumbs
• ½ tsp salt
• ½ tsp cinnamon
• 1 tbsp sugar (I used 1 tsp)
• 3 raw egg yolks
• 1 hard-boiled egg yolk
• 1oz melted butter
To make the pastry, rub the butter into the flour, work in egg and water, and knead lightly. Use half to line a dish; I used a 10-inch metal flan dish. Remove the coarse stalks of the greens, shred leaves thinly, mix with other ingredients (I also added black pepper) and pack into the dish. Cover with pastry, keeping some back to make decorations for the top. Bake at 150°C for 50 mins (mine took an hour), brushing the top with a little butter and sprinkling on a little fine sugar before serving.
Difficulty: 4/10
Time: 1 hour 30 mins
Verdict: The pastry handled well and the pie was tasty. It made a good summer lunch, served with pickles. I’ll make it again, but this time minus the sugar sprinkled on top.
From a recipe in Cooking and Dining in Tudor & Early Stuart England by Peter Brears (Prospect, 2015). This recipe was published in the May 2016 issue of BBC History Magazine.