Let’s talk about Pies. In the USA, we tend to think of pies as a fruit-filled delightful dessert, loaded with sugar and a flaky crust. In England, especially Restoration Era England, pies were often savory meals filled with meats and vegetables. And they are delicious. The chicken pot pie is the most well-known of pies, but my personal favorite will always be the vegetarian Cornish pasty, an 1800s version of a hot pocket. It is glorious, a great on the go food.
But today, we are going back to the 1600s and explore Hannah Wolley’s Oyster and Parsnip Pie recipe. This recipe contains traditional ingredients of the time. Often Wolley’s recipe book is chock full of recipes for the upper classes, including ingredients that were not readily available or too expensive. This recipe is not one of those. It would be fitting for the masses, with use of readily available ingredients, including oysters, parsnips, and eggs.
Here is the original recipe:
To make a Pie with Parsneps and Oisters very good.
Take your Parsneps tenderly boiled; and slice them thin, then having your Paste ready laid in your baking-pan, put in a good store of Butter, then lay in a Lay of Parsneps, and some large Mace, and Pepper cracked, then some Oisters and Yolks of Eggs hard boiled, then more Spice and butter, then more Parsneps, then more Oisters, then more hard Eggs, more Spice, and cover it well, and bake it, and serve it in hot.
The first step in this recipe is the crust, and I had to explicate from another crust recipe, or as Wolley called it, your paste. Below is my paste recipe. This is not a great crust. The flavor is delicious, but it is extraordinarily flaky and difficult to roll out. That said, if flavor trumps texture, this one is for you. It is flaky and a hint of sugar elevates savory pies to a delicious melding flavor.
Her original recipe:
To make short Paste without Butter.
Bake your Flower first, then take a quart of it, and the Yolks of three Eggs and a Pint of Cream, two Ounces of fine Sugar, and a little Salt, and so make it into Paste.
And my rendition of the recipe:
Old Pie Crust
Flour 4 ½ cups
3 egg yolks
⅓ cup sugar
A pinch of Salt
2. Roll out.
3. Prick the bottom and prepare filling.
Tomorrow, I will discuss the surprising and filling oyster and parsnip stuffing.
But today, let’s enjoy the salivating delight that is savory pies. What is your favorite?
Featured Image is by Jan Davidsz. de Heem (1606–1683/1684) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons