Venison Stew Wolley Style

With the leftovers from the Venison Pasty below, I wanted to make this a complete meal so I boiled some potatoes (we did use white potatoes here in New Hampshire)  and carrots with thyme, chopped parsley, garlic and onion placed on the fire. I then took the leftover pasty and dug out the meat and mushrooms placing them on a plate to which I added the rosemary.  I wish I had done this when it was warm last night as it would have been easier to remove the goodies from the pasty.  I save some of the pasty to use as a thickener at the end.

With the embers just right I scooped the venison mixture into the oiled pan. What a great sizzling sound it made. I poured in the wine and the aroma of the stew was magnificent. I guess it has been a while since I have had a chance to cook over a fire.

I was very light-handed with the vinegar and sugar. This is an acquired taste and much of the early receipts include mixing herbs and spices in way unfamiliar to our 21ST century tastes.  In went the leftover pasty cut fine and as soon as it absorbed the liquid, I spooned it out onto the platter. With the vegetables softened, I pan-fried them, letting them pick up the bits and pieces of the remaining stew, until they were a golden brown.

Keeping the dish of stew warming by the fire; it was ready for the colorful vegetables.


Venison with Samuel Pepys and Hannah Wolley

Once again I find myself using venison in an early receipt. On January 6th , 1660 Samuel Pepys diaries records the following “ I went home (from the office) and took my wife and went to my Cosen Tho Pepy’s and found them just sat down to dinner, which was very good; only the venison pasty was palpable beef, which was not hansom”  

On the streets of London you could buy Pasty and Coffins to take home.  Obviously Cosen Tho bought from a trickster and his meat may have been cheap or even rotten. The date of Pepys meal is in January so I thought it a fitting receipt to being my food blog.  

In Pepys at the Table, David and Johnson have included under this quote a receipt by Hannah Wolley, author of the The Accomplish’d Ladies Delight, London. 1675. Hannah was the first women to publish an English cookery book and wrote about food in order to earn money. Her receipt “TO STEW VENISON” can be found in the blogs Receipts file. 

If I’m translating Woolley’s receipt correctly, I believe she calls for venison that has already been cooked, which you then stew in wine and herbs, thicken with grated bread and add sugar and vinegar to taste.  So first I need to make the venison and have chosen a receipt from Robert May The Accomplished Cook 1660 (see receipt file). Having come from a family of Chefs Robert May was sent to Paris at the age of ten to be an apprentice cook. He came back to London and worked his way up as chef to the British aristocracy. However many of his receipts are written with common ingredients that could be used by people of modest means. 

 So, I will have to make venison pasty first before I can use Woolley receipt. O goody venison dinner for two nights. 

Reading Robert May receipt I realized I could feed a neighborhood with this pasty receipt and still have leftovers.  It seems I will have to reduce the amounts a bit, that should do it for two people.  Like most cooks today, one adds or subtracts what they like in a receipt.  I’m adding mushrooms as I have many varieties that are dried and I love the taste of them with venison.  Not having a bake oven handy at the moment I’ll be doing this in my oven, then on Friday the second receipt on the fire. 

Design of a venison pasty from Robert May cookery book

 (I drew this rendition and it is not as pretty as his however you get the idea.) 

 A note about mushrooms; I come from a family that foraged for them in the woods and dried them on tables outside in the shade to use in the winter similar to our ancestors.  The ones I am using come from the store as my husband told me long ago “SHOW ME THE CAN OR THE BOX, OR I’M NOT EATING THEM” 

 First I must make hot paste dough this needs to be wrapped in a dry cloth and reat for a bit.  1/3 of the dough will go for the pasty and the rest for the design.


I have everything assambled I will need.  The paste has rested and after I rolled part of  the paste I made the design for the top covered it with a wet cloth and set it aside.

 After mixing the meat and spices I cooked it a bit as I did not want to bake the pasty for eight hours. With the venison half cooked I place it on one half of the pasty then fold it over and add the design. 

Then in to the oven it will go at 325 degrees for an hour.  Half way through I washed the top with the beaten egg.  It looks nice and the aroma is wonderful I hope it taste good.

The Venison Pasty is delicious, with notes of nutmeg and cloves but not over powering.  The mushrooms added a texture and earthiness to the mild game taste. Half the pasty is leftover and will be used in Wolley’s receipt, Venison Stew.

January 12, 2012 by 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.

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