Helloooo, and a happy day to you!
The King is planning on leaving the castle and traveling across the land to the summer residence. It's common occurrence every summer as the black plague returns and many people sicken and die with its return. For some reason it seems to stay away from the country and so for the past several years going to the country to spend the summer months has become the normal thing to do.
The King's summer residence is almost 40 miles away and takes a month or more to get there, what with the carriages, carts and conveyances that are used to move most of the king's castle. The roads are rough and muddy or difficult to travel on. Why the King's very bedstead is disassembled and moved piece by piece to be reassembled whence he gets to the summer castle.
To travel, the food is not as typical and it must be made to travel well. The Master Chef of his highness has several recipes for meat pies or tarts as they are called. A simple meat filling wrapped in a dough of flour and lard and baked until brown and hot and bubbling inside, are a delight to even the king's palate and make a perfect traveling companion on long trips. A meat tart can be kept and eaten for several weeks after they are made. It is common for meat pies, large pies meant for several people, after several weeks to have the top crust removed, the filling scooped out, and reheated then replaced with the top crust put back on top, and then the entire pie reheated again. This method allows one to save the meat inside for as long as a year! Although meat tartees never last very long around the castle. * (See author's note)
Let me show you how. This is the exact recipe from the master Chef's little bitty book he keeps his recipes in.
Take pork y sode. hewe hit & bray hit, do þ(er) to ayro(u)n. rayso(u)ns. cora(u)ns sug(ur) & poudo(ur) of (gg). poudo(ur) douce & smale brydd(es) þ(er) among & whyte grees take p(ru)nes. safro(u)n & salt & make a crust in a trap(p) & do þe fars þ(er) inne & bake it wel. &c. .clxiij. Tart i(n) ymber Day. Take & p(ar)boyle oyno(u)ns & erbes & presse oute þe wat(er) & hewe he(m) smale. take brede & bray hit i(n) a mort(er) & te(m)p(er) hit vp w(t) ayro(u)n. do
Other foods for the long trip to the king's seat in the country would be dried and smoked venison and beef, breads, cheeses and dried and smoked fyshe.Meat pies and tartees would be plentiful as would fruit pies and little cakes. Cask of ale and water would be brought along and the traveling is not so difficult being in the king's company. Much better than the lowly traveler that wanders the roads alone or in small groups often beset upon by brigands and thieves, murders and the like. It is a difficult and dangerous thing to travel the roads in medieval Europe unless you traveled with the King's army.
We'll be summering in the country and I'll write more of the experiences I have along with the recipes I get a glimpse of from the Master Chef's little book of royal recipes. For now this is the proper recipe to create these tasty meat tartees for yourself.
Have a pleasant evening. Mrs Pippery
( First make the crust: Place in a mixing bowl flour ( I believe small bread or brydd is referring to flour not bread crumbs), lard, salt and a small amount of water and make a crust with it.
For the filling, place in a frying pan a couple of cups of pork cut finely and cook it with parboiled onions, herbs, drain any liquid from mixture, and add eggs, raisins, course sugar and poudour douce, prunes, saffron,bread crumbs to thicken then pound finely in a mortar. Place filling in pre-baked crust, top with another crust and bake well.
Pork Tart or Pork Meat Pie
Crust: 2 cups flour
1/2 cup butter
1 - 2 Tablespoons ice cold water
Mix and gently combine to form a delicate pie crust. For modern cooking methods use a pie plate to hold recipe together.
*(The flour that was milled in medieval times would have been a courser and tougher material yielding a tougher and stronger crust, most likely more difficult to chew by our modern standards but it would have held the pie together without the need of a baking dish. Even in medieval times the crust was often not eaten ans it was so chewy and hard, but was primarily thought to be used as a container which would preserve the meat for up to a year!! The crust surrounding the meat mixture was called a 'coffin' and if it was eaten it was usually given to the poor, minus the tasty filling as a 'leftover' or ground up and added as a thickener to soups in wealthy kitchens. It was not until the Victorian era that meat pies became street vendor fair and became a dish enjoyed by all classes. * With today's knowledge and understanding of food poisoning, toxins and modern sanitary food safe practices we would never eat meat that has been left out of refrigeration for any length of time. Please do not do this, as its a dangerous practice. Always refrigerate any cooked or raw food and follow proper food handling practices.
To address modern sensibilities when it comes to our modern diet, a more delicate, tender crust goes well with this dish, although it probably would not have traveled as well as the original version and certainly would not remain edible without refrigeration for very long.
The meat mixture:
3 cups finely diced raw pork
2 cups parboiled onions
small baby carrots cooked
1 cup water
salt, pepper to taste
poudour douce ( 1/4 tsp of each nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger)
1/4 c chopped raisins
1/4 c chopped prunes
3 beaten eggs
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 pinch of saffron
1/4 c breadcrumbs to thicken meat mixture
Cook pork in fry pan in a small amount of oil, then add the rest of the ingredients except for the breadcrumbs. Cook over a medium heat until everything is heated through. Add breadcrumbs to thicken if desired.
Place crust in bottom of pie plate and place in hot oven 400 degrees for 5 minutes. Remove and let cool. Place meat mixture in pre-baked crust, brush the edges of the crust with water and then place a second crust over the top and pinch the edges tightly and trim away excess crust. Then pierce 6 small slits in top of crust to allow steam to escape while baking. Bake at a medium temperature over 350 degrees for up to an hour until the crust is brown and the filling is bubbling through the steam slits.)
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(Author's Note: I will allow Mrs. Pippery to tell the story of her encounters with the Forme of Curye, the recipe book of the Master Chef for King Richard II during the years 1367 - 1400. The owner of this manuscript (University of Manchester, Manchester, England, see Attribution Section below) does not currently know the actual name of the Master Chef. Accordingly, as used in this series of articles, the names of the Master Chef, Mrs. Pippery and any other principals mentioned, are fictional. This author’s personal comments, translations or interpretations of the manuscript are presented in parenthesis and in italics. The supporting story including the description of the day-to-day life of the characters were created by the author, using her historical research of the time period. The modern recipes provided are based, in part, on the author’s interpretations of the recipes appearing in the manuscript, adapted to today’s cooking equipment and techniques.)
Attribution: The Forme of Curye is an ancient manuscript owned by the University of Manchester, Manchester, England, under its Manchester Middle English Manuscripts, of the John Ryland's Library Middle English Manuscript Digitisation Project. The transcription as they appear in these article were done by or for the University and appear as released by the University for research and for the use of scholars and other interested parties.