Pilgrim Seasonings

Plymouth Colony Foodways: Notes and Recipes from a 17th Century Kitchen

“I’ll make mincemeat out of that mouse!”

August 26th, 2013 by KM Wall

is the famous cry of Klondike Kat, referring to his arch-enemy Savoir Fare.

Klndike Kat with a wanted poster of Savoir Fare

Klondike Kat with a wanted poster of Savoir Fare

Mouse is something I haven’t found in 17th century mincemeat. Beef, mutton, veale, neat’s tongue…but no mouse.

Thank goodness.

Mince pie has also become  associated with Christmas  by the early 17th century, so some of the other aliases are

Shred or Shrid Pie or

Christmas Pie (or allegedly by some Puritans – Superstition Pies – I just have this one on say so)

and then all the variations of mince/minced/minst/minc’d/mincemeat pies.

To make minst Pyes.

Take your Veale and perboyle it a little, or mutton, then set it a cooling: and when it is colde, take three pound of suit to a legge of mutton, or fower pound to a fillet of Veale, and then mince them small by them selves, or together wheather you will, then take to season them halfe an unce of Nutmegs, half an unce of cloues and Mace, halfe an unce of Sinamon, a little Pepper, as much Salt as you think will season them, either to the mutton or to the Veale, take viij (8) yolkes of Egges when they be hard, halfe a pinte of rosewater full measure, halfe a pound of Suger, then straine the Yolkes with the Rosewater and the Suger and mingle it with your meate, if ye haue any Orenges or Lemmans you must take two of them, and take the pilles very thin and mince them very smalle,   and put them in a pound of currans, six dates, half a pound of prunes laye Currans and Dates upon the top of your meate, you must take two or three Pomewaters or Wardens and mince with your meate, you maye make them ****** if you will, if you will  make good crust put in three or foure yolkes of egges, a litle  Rosewater, & a good deale of suger.

1588. The Good Houswiues treasurie. pp.7-8.

 NOTES:

  1. This call for a leg of mutton or a fillet of veal. A Leg is quick a lot of mutton; I’m not sure how much a fillet of veal was, but pounds and pounds of meat. Mutton is  meat from sheep. Baa Ram Ewe. Lamb is fine.

    a ram from Edward Topsell History of Four-footed Beasts

    a ram from Edward Topsell History of Four-footed Beasts

  2. Suit is suet – that the fat you’ll be adding. Don’t cut too far back or it will be as dry as sawdust and tasteless to boot.
  3. Mincing would be done by hand, with a sharp knife, and it is easier to mince the meat and the fat separately because they cut differently. Then run though a second time to incorporate them. You might want to incite your friends and family and neighbors and maybe some total strangers to make a quicker go of it….. If you use a meat grinder, just don’t turn it all into mush. A little texture makes a world of difference.
  4. Unce  = ounce – this is a fairly conservative amount of spice. This recipe alone should put to rest the old “spice covered up the taste of rotten meat”, as if fresh meat were more expensive then the spicing….
  5. Hardboiled egg yolks (and why do they forever say yolkes of eggs as if they ever call for yolkes of anything else?? ) are a good medium to get the rosewater mixed into everything and not drip out the bottom while the pie bakes.
  6. Orange or lemon peel  – VERY GOOD.
  7. Pomewater is a kind of apple, warden is a sort of pear.
  8. ****** is a word I can’t for the life of me make out, between 16th century spelling and typeface, and photocopy  fuzzyness.
  9. ‘a good deal of suger’  – hard to go wrong.

Sorry for the earlier recipe re-call – so many buttons……

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2 Responses to ““I’ll make mincemeat out of that mouse!””

  1. Tinky says:

    I have never developed a taste for it, but my mother’s family adored mincemeat pie–even when it was made with apples.

  2. KM Wall says:

    Apples aren’t a part of every 17th century mincemeat, but they’re almost the whole show in 21st century American mincemeat pies, what few and far between they be. You might notice that there’s rosewater here, and not wine or other spirits – that spirited mincemeat comes in a little later, and then dominates the form. Prohibition forces it out, and since they then working theory was that the liquor preserved the meat, the meat took a hike, too.

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