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This article is Copyright 1996 to "Serve It Forth!". All rights reserved.

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Mary Morman
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Author Profile

Mary Morman lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado where she is a business operations manager for a major software firm. She enjoys period cooking, mystery novels, church activities, and traveling to places where she can see real historic kitchens - her current favorite is the Elizabethan townhouse at Plas Mawr in Conwy, Wales. Known in the SCA as Mistress Elaina de Sinistre, she is currently on a political sabbatical from SCA activities. Contact her at:

Pies of Paris
by Mary Morman

These pies are based mainly on a recipe from A Noble Boke Off Cookry ffor a Prynce Houssolde, an 1882 reprint of a manuscript (Harlian Manuscript #4016) scribed shortly after 1467 (the date of one of the feasts described at the beginning of the text) but including a number of much earlier recipes. Several of the recipes in this manuscript are literally identical to recipes found in the 1390 text of Forme of Cury. I was also influenced by several other meat pie recipes, one of which I have reproduced here for its suggestions of saffron as an additional spice. The pies can be eaten hot or cold, and the same filling can be used for pasties.

Pies of Parys

To make pyes of paris tak and fmyt fair buttes of pork and buttes of vele and put it to gedure in a faire pot with frefhe brothe and put ther to a quantite of whyne and boile it tille it be enoughe then put it in to a treene veffelle and put ther to raw yolks of eggs pouder of guinger fugur falt and mynced dates and raiffins of corans and mak a good thyn paifte and mak coffyns and put it ther in and bak it welle and ferue it.

A Boke of Kokery, from the facsimile in Duke Cariadoc's Medieval and Renaissance Cookbook Collection

Tartes of flessh

Take pork ysode and grynde it smale. Take harde eyren isode & ygrounde, and do therto with chese ygrounde. Take gode powdours and hool spices, sugar, safroun and salt, & do therto. Make a coffyn as tofore sayde & do this therinne, & plaunt it with smalle briddes istyued & connynges, & hewe hem to smale gobettes, & bake it as tofore, & serue it forth.

Forme of Cury, 1390
(as reprinted in the Early English Text Society's Curye on Inglysch)

Elaina's Redaction

1 1/2 pounds of minced and/or ground veal
4 pounds of minced and/or ground pork
2 cups of beef broth
3 cups of white wine
1 cup of currants
1 cup of chopped dates
1/4 teaspoon saffron
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon powdered ginger
salt to taste
5 eggs

  • In a large skillet or Dutch oven (the 'faire pot'), brown all the meat together. Add the broth and white wine and let in simmer over low heat for an hour or more ('tille it be enoughe').
  • Now add the dates and currants and cook for 15 minutes more. After adding the fruit, line two deep dish pie crusts with pastry. Remove the meat and fruit with a slotted spoon to a large ceramic dish and move away from the oven to cool.
  • Add another two cups of wine and a cup of broth and your seasonings to the liquid and bring just to a boil. At the same time, beat four eggs together. Dribble a few spoonfuls of the hot liquid slowly into the eggs while beating continuously.
  • Turn down your heat as low as possible and slowly pour the egg mixture into the simmering liquid while beating continuously. (These last procedures work best with two pairs of hands.) Keep stirring with a whisk until the liquid thickens well and remove from heat.
  • Spoon the meat and fruit mixture back into the thickened sauce and mix well to coat. Then spoon the filling into the pie shells, being sure to use all of the sauce.
  • Cover with a top crust of pastry and crimp the edges with your fingers. Beat up the last egg and brush it over the top of the crust. Use a sharp knife to cut a few small slits (for steam) in a decorative pattern in the crust.
  • Bake at 350o for thirty minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for at least 20 minutes. You can then serve the pies hot, or place them in the refrigerator to cool thoroughly.

Some Commentary

I became interested in period recipes for meat pies after learning to bake mincemeat pies from my great-aunt. She was born in 1876 and learned to cook in an era of woodstoves and no refrigeration. Her pies, made for the holidays, bore little resemblance to the modern mincemeat that is mainly candied fruit and perhaps a little suet. Their main ingredients were beef brisket, cooked and 'flaked' and chopped, and brandy, with some raisins and citron for flavor. There are quite a few meat pie recipes in the medieval and renaissance corpus. Most tend to have been a mix of meats that include birds (whole or in large pieces) and other types of game. I like the 'Pies of Parys' recipe because it seems more of a precursor of the later mincemeat - all the meat is chopped small and fruit and liquor are added. The liquor used is wine instead of brandy, but that makes sense for the period from which it comes.

I have used this recipe to pre-bake large numbers of pies to serve at SCA feasts. A pie of this size will serve good portions to eight to ten people (servings containing a quarter pound to a third of a pound of meat) - making it ideal to serve as a hearty meat course at a feast where you can very easily provide one pie per table. It works well because several people can each cook up two to four pies and bring them to the feast, thereby saving oven space at the event. When working on a feast budget, I usually stretch the meat by adding two to three chopped apples to each pie. This mix has an excellent and appealing flavor, but would probably not have been common in period since veal (a spring meat) and apples (a fall fruit) would not often have been eaten together. However, if you premise stored or dried apples saved through the winter, or pies made largely of pork, perhaps with beef instead of veal, the mix is not out of the question.

In this redaction, I have tried to keep closely to the original recipe, although I did add saffron for both flavor and color. I used a basic white jug wine, and used a mix of ground and chopped veal mixed with chopped pork. Modern cooks would probably add the seasonings to the filling while it simmered, but it seems to me quite clear that the period method was to add the seasonings to the liquid after the meat had been removed. No quantities are given for the spices, so I use proportions that I find yield a pleasing flavor.