A Few 1860s Recipes

ft defiance picnic

Each year I participate in an 1860s picnic by making all the food for the re-enactors and interpreters.  This year the menu was:

Roast Chicken
Pork Pies
Various Pickled Vegetables
Fresh Fruit
Homemade Bread
Washington Pie, which is a cake!

I usually roast some of the meat over a fire, but this year it rained so much that set up inside the interpretive center. I roasted the meat at home and brought it already cut up and ready to eat.

Roast chicken 1860s style its not much different from 21st century style. I washed and patted dry the chicken, filled the cavity with an onion studded with 3 cloves and added some salt and pepper. I rubbed the chicken with butter and sprinkled mixed herbs. Just use what you like I used thyme, rosemary, basil and oregano.
Roast in an oven or over a fire on a spit til done. Oven roasting takes about 3 hours in a 350*F oven, depending on the size of the chicken. When you grab the thigh portion and twist it gently, it should fall off the bone, that’s how you know when the whole chicken is done.Cooking a whole chicken on a pit over a fire is a bit different, but the doneness test is the same.

Pork Pie is a very old recipe and still very popular in the UK. The ones I make are simple and tasty. Most pork pies were made as a large pie that was cut into serving pieces. Sometimes smaller pies were made for travel or lunch at work. I made the smaller pies for the picnic so that no one would need a fork.

A traditional pork pie consists of three components: The crust, the filling and the jelly. I will give the measurements for the dough in grams and you’ll need to weigh the ingredients out on a scale set to grams. If you want to convert the measurements to ounces and cups you can.

I used standard muffin tins to bake my pies, you can research how to make a hand-risen crust if you prefer.

First you make the filling. Use minced pork shoulder, pork belly and bacon. In total you will need about 2 pounds of meat to make one large pie or a couple dozen hand pies. These pies can be seasoned however you like. This year I used a different recipe than I used last year. This year I used only 2 teaspoons of dry mustard. 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce and some black pepper. Last year I used 1 tbsp fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (leaves only), 1/4 tsp ground allspice, 1/4 tsp of fresh grated nutmeg,1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper. Any of these herbs and spices can be increased or decreased according to taste.

Mince the meat well, I used a food processor and mix in the seasonings well. Set aside.

Next make the crust. It is a hot water crust and must be worked while it is hot because as it cools, it becomes very difficult to work with. I cheated a little this year and re-heated some of the dough in the microwave in between making all the little circles for the small pies. I wrapped the dough in paper towels before microwaving it.

The dough consists of:
120g lard
450g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp milk
150ml water
1 egg yolk, beaten for wash

The Jelly is made to fill the pies after baking. The savory jelly fills all the nooks and crannies. The pork mixture will shrink on baking and then rattle around inside the pastry. The jelly keeps that from happening.

The Jelly consists of:
32 ounces chicken broth
3 rounded tablespoons plain gelatin
1 bay leaf
fresh thyme, 2 sprigs
black pepper

Put the broth in a medium sauce pan, add the gelatin and let it soften. stir in the gelatin then add the seasonings, Bring to a boil, stirring. The gelatin should completely dissolve. I use a squirt top bottle to add the jelly to the pies, but you can simply spoon it in.

Assemble the pies:

Grease your muffin tins well, heat the oven to 350*F

I used a food processor to combine the dough ingredients, you could use a stand mixer or do it by hand but its a very stiff dough and will wear your arms out if you’re not used to it.

In a medium saucepan heat the lard, water and milk to boiling. Sift your flour and salt into the bowl of the food processor and cover the processor for mixing. Turn on the processor and slowly pour the lard mixture into the flour mixture. Let it run til you have a smooth dough that balls up on the blades.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut out circles that will fit inside your muffin tins. Place one circle in each section of the tin, gently press it down into the tin but it doesn’t have to be completely touching the bottom of the tin.

Cut out all the tops for the pies.

Fill each shell with about 2 tablespoons of pork mixture, Just fill up the shell without overfilling. Brush a little egg wash on the edges and top with a pastry circle, pressing it down to attach to the shell.

Poke a hole in the top of each unbaked pie, I use a straw. Brush with egg wash. Bake at 350*F for about 50 minutes, until the pies are golden brown.

Cool the pies for a few minutes and then take them out of the tin to cool. While they are still hot add the jelly a little at a time til you fill each pie.

Let cool completely. These pies can be frozen and reheated or just defrosted and served cold. The shells are sturdy but very tasty.

Washington Pie
Washington Pie was made as early as the late 18th century for celebrations commemorating George Washington’s birthday. Traditionally made using cherries and kirsch, I made this one using raspberry jam. If you will click on the picture above and then enlarge it a bit you will see the Washington Pie at the very top of the picture.

For each cake, I made two:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
1 2/3 cups unbleached flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350*F Cut waxed paper to fit your pans, I use 9×13 pans but you could use 2 8 inch round pans for each recipe. I use one recipe for a 9×13 pan.

After greasing the pan, place the waxed paper in the pan then grease and flour it over the waxed paper.

In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and mix until very light. Sift in the flour and baking powder, alternating with the milk. Beat this mixture til its light and fluffy.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pans and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until they are done using a straw or sharp knife inserted in to the middle. When you bring out the knife or straw it should not have any wet batter on it, which indicates that the cake is done.

Once its done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then invert the cake on a cooling rack and peel off the waxed paper. Let the cake cool completely.

As I mentioned, I make two 9×13 cakes using one recipe for each cake. I usually leave one cake in its pan long enough to use it to top the other cake after spreading jam over it.

Dust some powdered sugar over the assembled cake and its ready to go!

About Sylvia

Sylvia Britton is the owner of the Christian HomeKeeper website and ministry and began the ministry in 1997 when her husband brought home their first PC. She and her husband Mark live in Tennessee and are the parents of 5 grown children and grandparents to five so far. They homeschooled their five children from 1991 to 2016. You can follow Sylvia on Facebook or consider joining her Facebook Group called Christian Homekeepers and Like her official CHK Page on Facebook.
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