THE ATE THAT! # 3

To Make Minced Tongue Pie

Last, but not least, the third receipt is minced tongue pie. Minced pie is a medieval combination of meat, fruit, sugar and spices. Over the years it has changed from a first course to a dessert, often doused in liquor and served at Christmas.

The Puritans banned minced pie as it had become synonymous with Christmas, which they appalled. Oliver Cromwell’s Puritan influence reached as far as the colonies, and for 22 years in Massachusetts there was no Christmas. According to Linda Stradley, of the blog “What’s Cooking America,” “The pie’s sullied reputation stuck, and even in 1733 a writer still lamented that Puritans “inveigh[ed] against Christmas Pye, as an Invention of the Scarlet Whore of Babylon . . . the Devil and all his Works.” Strong words for a pie.

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So I started looking at tongue and minced pie receipts, and went as far back as 1658 and up to 1785. The receipts were both sweet and savory with the sweet leading the pack. With the exception of the tongue, there was no one ingredient that was used in all the 16 receipts I examined. The next most-used ingredient was Sack or some type of wine followed by sugar, mace, nutmeg, cloves, suet, cinnamon, lemon, orange and citron, next apples, and last, raisins, in that order. I found some interesting ingredients too, butter, orange and rose water, chestnuts, bacon, artichokes, eggs, anchovies, grapes, bread crumbs and cream. There did not seem to be any indication that any one year used more ingredients than another, it was sporadic. The majority did not mention what type of crust they used, but puff paste, coffin and high paste were mentioned. For the most part, they were making one pie, yet in the early receipts they mention making small hand pies also. The name of the pie did change over the course of the years; we start with, To Make Tongue Pye, and end with, To Make Minced Pie of Tongue. Several of the later receipts called for previously made minced to which you added the tongue.

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Modern day mince meat pies contain no meat, and sometimes no alcohol, yet they do have every other ingredient under the sun in them. Most minced pies today are made with bottled minced meat, which has no meat, no tongue. The meat is the fruit that has been chopped to tiny bits.

For the “Minced Pie of Tongue,” Kathleen took the lead. Being a great pastry maker as well as a superior hearth cook, I knew that, under her guidance, the pie would be made to perfection.

 

Kathleen was joined by Linda and John. While the ladies peeled lemons and oranges, and cut in the butter for the pastry, John chopped the tongue and suet. Here he has cut the large tongue to human size. This workshop was not all work and no play.

 

With the pie done it was placed in the bake kettle on the hearth, and coals placed below and on top. The kettle was turned a time or two until it was deemed ready, Kathleen and Linda carefully take it out of the hot kettle.

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The minced tongue pie team gathers for a final photo with their warm pie ready to be served. The crust had a wonderful buttery taste while the suet mixed with the tongue; apples, spices, raisin and other ingredients gave everything a luscious texture. The brandy also added bit of a kick.

 

This ALHFAM workshop was wonderful to present as the participants were all so eager to cook on the hearth. Some had only hearth-cooked a time or two, others were real pros. This provided a great combination as many shared tips and experiences they have had along their journey cooking on the open hearth.

With the workshop coming to a close, and the cleanup complete, we headed out the door. I hope that everyone took something new away with them. I know I did. Thank you all for participating.

Sandie

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About Sandie

Since I was a small child I have loved early fireplaces and the smell of smoke in an old house. However it was not until about Fifteen years ago that my journey into hearth cooking began. It all started at the Hurd House Museum in Woodbury Ct. I was the director of the Junior Docent program and among the programs each week we cooked. At about the same time a group of us started the Culinary Historians of Connecticut meeting once a month to discuss equipment used, receipt (18th century term for recipe), and anything between the late 1600 to late 1700 that had to do with hearth cooking. We were fortunate to try our hand at cooking at several Museums throughout Ct and many more private homes. We made cheese; we held a late 1600 dinner and shared our knowledge with others. Our group designrd our own tours such as the Kitchens of Old Wethersfield. In 2000 we were delighted to host the Historic Foodways group of ALFAM at the Hurd House during their conference at Mystic Seaport. We put together a great workshop of Puddings, Sausages, Brown Bread, Beverages you name it we offered it. I am now a member of the ALFAM foodways group. Then it was off to Colonial Williamsburg for the seminar The Art of 18th-Century Cooking: Farm to Hearth to Table. During the years I joined many workshops in Sturbridge Village plus their Dinner in a Country Village and breakfast at the Freeman Farm. So I was pretty much hooked on heart cooking and the 18th century way of life. I joined a wonderful group of ladies and we started the “Hive” a place to improve and grow your 18th century impression and offer research about material culture in 17070’s New England. We also travel with friends and have displays of clothing and teas at Museums in Massachusetts. Many events are held at the Hartwell Tavern at Minute Man National Park. They have been gracious enough to let us play there and entertain and share our knowledge with their visitors. Please visit our “Hive” site if the 1700 interest you. Then the move to New Hampshire and a job at Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth as the co-coordinator of the Junior Role Playing workshop and eventually cooking in front of the hearth at the Wheelwright house. Not only did I enjoy making my evening meals at the hearth to take home but also talking with the visitors. I am an entertainer after all, check out my program page. Most recently I am working at the Museum of Old York in Maine as an educator, hearth cook and organizer of the Junior Docent cooking program in the summer. See some photos in the archive file Because I do make food with the docents and serve food to the public at our Tavern Dinners I took the National Restaurant Association tests called ServSafe and now have my Certification as a Restaurant Manager. I look forward to the Museum of Old York opening again this March 2012 and getting back to the hearth and teaching, however for now I’m cooking at home and enjoying doing so.

3 thoughts on “THE ATE THAT! # 3

  1. Wonderfully instructive and enticing. Now, if I can just overcome my psychological aversion to eating tongue.

  2. I made Amelia Simmons’ Tongue Mincemeat Pye. Best Mincemeat ever! But then my family loves tongue.