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A chronicle of daily life in the 1627 English village at Plimoth Plantation from both a modern and historical perspective.

What’s Cooking in 1627?

December 10th, 2008 by admin

Since we’re not open for the public, no one is actually cooking in the 1627 English Village. But, if we WERE open, you might find someone contemplating Christmas – in private – and thinking about mince pie. Mincemeat in the 17th century had actual meat in it, as this recipe from Gervase Markham’s English Huswife (1623 ed, pp. 103-4):

A minc’t pie.
Take a Leg of Mutton, and cut the best of the best flesh from the bone, and parboyle it well: then put to it three pound of the best Mutton suet, and shred it very small: then spred it abroad, and season it with pepper and salt, cloues and mace : then put in good store of currants, great raysons and prunes cleane washt and pickt, a few dates slic’t, and some orange pills slic’t: then being all well mixt together, put into a coffin, or into diuers coffins, and so bake them: and when they are serued vp open the liddes, and strow store of suger on the top of the meat, and upon the lid. And in this sort you may also bake Beefe or Veale; onely the Beefe would not be parboyled, and the Veale will aske a double quantitie of suet.

A few quick notes -
orange pills are peels
coffins are stand alone pastry cases (but there is no reason not to use a pie plate), diuers are diverse or several
liddes are the upper crust of the pie

Why would someone in 1627 keep a meat pie a secret? Perhaps because some Puritans thought mince pie a Christmas no better then ‘Idolatry in a crust’.

Thank you Lisa, Paula and Kathleen for baking mince pies with me.

Kathleen M. Wall
Colonial Foodways Manager


2 Responses to “What’s Cooking in 1627?”

  1. Kat Zak says:

    Wish I could have helped, sounds like you ladies had fun. We’re making mince pies this Christmas… maybe we’ll use the Markham recipe. See you Saturday!
    -Kat & Richard

  2. KMW says:

    Of the meats listed, beef is my favorite, but if you have venison, that works, too. Don’t skimp too much on the fat, or else the whole thing just tastes like cardboard. If you use suet, (yes, the same stuff they put out for your birdfeeders) you’ll have to render it. Cut off anything moldy looking or otherwise suspect, cut it into one inch cubes and put it in a large pot with a little water on the bottom. Let it heat on medium until it all melts.There may be some floaty things on the top and a certtain amount of sediment on the bottom. Be very careful – hot grease is very dangerous. Pour through a strainer lined with a coffee filter. Now you have nicely rendered suet for your mince pies and real traditional plum puddings. Or use butter, just don’t skimp! KMW

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