More on Meat Pastries

I am badly in arrears and promise to write up what I did over the Easter weekend, but there are still recipes and experiences from the Palm Sunday open. The main course of our meal that day were two meat pastries from the recipe collection of Philippine Welser. I used the opportunity to try the pastry crust recipe she suggests.

58 How you should make pastry coffins (bastetten hefen)

Take half fine flour and half second flour (nach mel, flour of lesser quality), break 2 eggs into it and put in melted fat into it, about as much as the size of one egg, and hot water. Or boil the fat in the water and once the water has cooled a little, pour it into the flour. Work it well until it is dry and elastic, otherwise it cannot be raised (auf setzenn). Except for venison pastries, I only use fine flour alone, and when it has had enough, I pull it, thus it becomes good and elastic.

I went with the proportions that had already worked for a tart shell made on a similar principle: Four cups of flour (two each Typ 550 and Typ 1050), 75 grammes of fat, two eggs and one cup of hot water. Though I had expected to need more liquid, I didn’t. The crust turned out pleasant to work and roll out as well as tasty, though not as ‘short’ as I would have liked. More fat would most likely remedy that. The pastry recipes we served were one chicken and one venison, though we had to settle for substituting lean stewing beef.

60 If you want to make a capon pastry

Make the pastry crust as you know and take the capon and clean it well. Parboil it a little, but not long. Then take it and chop off its neck and its feet. If you want, carve it up, but not all the way through, and season it well with pepper, ginger, not much mace, and a little cloves and cinnamon. Put it into the pastry crust together with the neck and the feet, and add the yolks of hard-boiled eggs and raisins. Take capon fat or marrow and also put it in, and put the leftover spices on top. Add sugar, and do not forget the salt. Close it and let it bake slowly, and brush it well with egg all around.

Of course, capons are rather difficult to find these days, but modern broiling chickens are competitive in terms of tenderness and fatness. I considered using an entire bird (as I had done before), but decided to go with legs instead to ease portioning. A dearth of pastry moulds and an unwarranted concern over the watertightness of the crust made me opt for a loaf pan to hold it. I rubbed the thighs and drumsticks with the spices, layered them in the case, put raisins, fat, and boiled egg yolks on top and closed the whole thing to bake it at 180°C. The result was beautifully tender, spicy, slightly sweet chicken, an interesting flavour combination that I am happy to repeat. I think actually using this on an entire bird, pre-carved to come part easily at the joints, would make a nice conceit for serving. Someone more talented at sculpture than me will also be able to produce a pretty crust.

The other recipe called for venison:

66 Further to make a venison pastry; I think this is better than the above

Take the venison and boil it in water for an hour. Then let it cool. Cut long (strips of) bacon and take spices like pepper, ginger, and a little cloves , and salt; use much pepper, stir it all together, and coat (lit. roll) the bacon in it. Lard the venison well with this, and what bacon you have left over, lay (in the pastry crust) with the venison. Take the leftover spices and sprinkle it all over the venison. Make a kneaded (uber schlagenn) dough for it with only flour of second quality. Poke 5 holes in the top and let it bake for 4 hours.

This turned into mere proof of concept for the spicing. The stewing beef we had was cut too small to lard properly, so I layered it with the spiced bacon instead. The filling fused into a solid mass which was difficult to serve out, but it tasted excellent and most likely would be even better in the original configuration.

The crust was very well-behaved and practical. It rolled out well, unmoulded without trouble, and held liquid wherever I didn’t flub the closing. I suspect it would work well with more ambitious shapes and moulds, maybe an Easter Lamb or something similar.

Philippine Welser (1527-1580), a member of the prominent and extremely wealthy Welser banking family of Augsburg, was a famous beauty of her day. Scandalously, she secretly married Archduke Ferdinand II of Habsburg in 1557 and followed him first to Bohemia, then to Tyrol. A number of manuscripts are associated with her, most famously a collection of medicinal recipes and one of mainly culinary ones. The recipe collection, addressed as her Kochbuch in German, was most likely produced around 1550 when she was a young woman in Augsburg. It may have been made at the request of her mother and was written by an experienced scribe. Some later additions, though, are in Philippine Welser’s own hand, suggesting she used it.

The manuscript is currently held in the library of Ambras Castle near Innsbruck as PA 1473 and was edited by Gerold Hayer as Das Kochbuch der Philippine Welser (Innsbruck 1983).

This entry was posted in Uncategorised and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *