I love food! Not only do I enjoy eating it, I like recipes. When I went to post my last blog entry, I noticed something that suggested Austen Authors sometimes share historical recipes with readers. Yay. Those things are so fun. Every recipe confuses me and sounds like something I just couldn’t bring myself to eat. Here is one recipe from a cookbook that debuted in 1747, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple by Hannah Glasse. This cookbook was wildly popular. It was a bestseller in both Britain and the United States for over 100 years, and it includes the recipes Jane Austen would have enjoyed.
To make a Duck-Pie.
Make a puff-paste crust, take two ducks, scald them, and make them very clean, cut off the feet, the pigeons, the neck and head, all clean picked and scalded, with the gizzards, livers, and hearts; pick out all the fat of the inside; lay a crust all over the dish, season the ducks with pepper and salt, inside and out, lay them in your dish, and the giblets at each end seasoned; put in as much water as will almost fill the pie, lay on the crust, and bake it, but not too much.
Okay… my questions and complaints begin. Thanks for the instructions there, Hannah. I’ll just whip up some puff paste crust randomly without any of your help. Possible dinner guests… expect that to be a mess. But the next part is where the real problems are possible. Am I supposed to cut the feet off the duck but leave on the neck and head; and for the pigeons keep the feet but remove the heads and neck? Which bits go in the pie and which stay out? And what exactly is “fat of the inside”?
I’m going to make some assumptions here. Here is what I think I’m being asked to do… I take two birds and remove the feet, neck, and heads. Pluck the feathers and stick the remaining bird parts in hot water. Remove any fat I can find, but leave the bones. Remove and save organs. Put down a bottom crust (I magically whipped up). Into the crust, I should then throw in some salt, pepper, organs, and my boney hot bird bodies; pour in water; add top crust; and bake. Now, I’ve no idea what temperature or how long to cook it. But, thanks to Hannah’s superb advice, I know I shouldn’t burn it.
If I’ve guessed this right, here is the revised version of making a duck pie: stick a featherless bird torso in a pie crust and season with water, salt, and pepper. Totally see the best selling potential in those instructions. But if you think the instructions are a little too vague for your tastes, keep in mind she also provides sample menus. Below is an options for your February dinner party. If you don’t care for pig ears, fear not. In March, the menu changes, and you can have cow ears instead.
The ORDER of a MODERN BILL of FARE, FOR FEBRUARY. — —§— — FIRST COURSE. Peas Soup. Chickens. Harrico of Mutton. Pork Cutlets. Sauce. Chicken Patty. Salmon and Smelts. Oyster. Patties. Soup. Mutton Collops. Rump of Beef. Small Ham. SECOND COURSE. Wild Fowl. Cardoons, Scolloped Oysters. Pears. Dish of Jelly. Epergne. Hare. Stewed Pippins. Ragout. Artichoke Bottoms. THIRD COURSE. Two Woodcooks. Crawfish. Pig’s Ears. Blanched Almonds and Raisins. Asparagus. Fruit. Mushrooms. Larks. Preserved Cherries. Lamb Chopslarded. Prawns.