Ten days to Christmas (Eve!)

It’s ten days until Christmas Eve and I’ve been thinking ahead and what I could be doing to prepare for the big day. It won’t be the usual panic as we won’t be eating until the evening, and rather than a big bird for Christmas dinner I’ve decided we’ll have pie.

I think game pie might be nice, different, tasty and rather special. I have so many old recipe books and I’ve been searching through for a recipe and found one in ‘Mrs. A.B. Marshal’s Cookery book’ – that’s its title!

Agnes Marshall was a celebrity in her day; born in 1855, her particular forte was ice-cream and she has a whole section in the book I have. She wrote four books altogether between 1885 – 1894, ‘Ices Plain and Fancy: The Book of Ices’, ‘Mrs A. B. Marshall’s Book of Cookery’, ‘Mrs. A.B. Marshall’s Larger Cookery Book of Extra Recipes’,  and ‘Fancy Ices’. She also opened a cookery school, Marshall School of Cookery, in Mortimer Street London, published a weekly magazine called ‘The Table’, and sold cooking supplies and equipment. She was a real fore-runner of the celebrity cooks and chefs we have these days. Tragically she died at the age of forty-nine in 1905, after falling from a horse the previous year,  having never recovered from her injuries. Her husband took over her business, but it seems that without Agnes, the enterprise could no longer succeed. Unlike Eliza Acton or Mrs Beeton, no-one now remembers Agnes Bertha Marshall.

So this is her recipe which contains many things we could not now obtain, and I doubt we’d want them even if we could, e..g. cockscombs! Her ingredients are pigeon, chicken, tongue, ham or bacon, hard-boiled yolks of eggs, button mushrooms, pistachios, truffles, pate de fois gras, cockscombs, larks, quails, or ortolans.

I have written it as she has but whereas Agnes has paragraphs, I’ve spaced it as a bulleted list

French Raised Game Pie – Pâté de Gibier à la Française

Prepare a raised pie paste and with it line a No. 2 size French raised pie mould to scarcely a quarter of an inch thick then prepare a farce of mince as follows:

  • take ten ounces of veal, twelve ounces of fresh pork, and chop very fine or pass twice through a mincing machine;
  • season with coralline pepper, salt and arrange this on the paste in the mould.
  • Fill in with fillets of pigeons, chicken, or any game you may have, strips of tongue, ham or bacon, hard-boiled yolks of eggs that are masked with chopped parsley and seasoned with pepper and salt, button mushrooms, pistachios, truffles, pate de fois gras, cockscombs, and any farced birds, such as larks, quails, or ortolans, so as to stand higher than the mould
  • cover in with more layers of farce or mince, and then put a somewhat thinner layer of paste over the top, first wetting the edges of the paste round the mould, press the edges together, and trim off the paste; brush the top lightly over with cold water, stamp out some rounds of the paste and work them into leaves or other pretty designs, and ornament the top of the pies with them
  • fix a buttered paper round the mould standing some six inches higher than the top of the pie. Bake gently for about two hours, taking care that the paste is not browned, as it should be a rich fawn colour when done;
  • when cooked put the pie aside in the mould till it is quite cold, then remove the top by cutting the paste through round the edge of the mould, and fill up the pie with any nice meat jelly that is not quite set and put aside again until the jelly is quite set then cover the top with some chopped aspic and replace the paste cover.
  • Remove the mould, dish on a paper and it may be garnished round with aspic jelly. Care must be taken when filling up the mould that the jelly is not too liquid or it will go through the paste.

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