Venison Pastries

I will be travelling with my son and there will probably not be time for many extensive posts in the coming week or so, so here is what Philippine Welser’s recipe collection says on venison pastries:

64 Further, how to make a venison pastry

Take the venison and parboil it in half vinegar and half wine. Then take pepper and salt and coat (lit. roll) long slices in it. Lard the venison so it is well larded. Then take pepper and salt and sprinkle it well everywhere. Then make a dough of second quality flour and take two eggs and a little melted fat and warm water. Make an elastic dough from that and roll it out in one large sheet or two, depending on how much venison there is. Fold one over the other when the venison is in it and make a wreath around it or otherwise close it neatly, as women know how to save (wyes fraw retten kan). Brush it with egg all over and put it into the tart pan and bake it slowly for three hours. Make a hole at the top and pour in half vinegar and half wine and pepper, and let bake for another hour.

65 To make a venison pastry

Take the venison and let it boil well in wine and vinegar so it is half boiled. Then take it out, lard it well, spice it well, and lay much bacon at the bottom. Let it bake for two hours.

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.

With just pepper and salt, larding, and wine and vinegar as a cooking liquid, these recipes have a very contemporary feel. The instructions in recipe #64 to enclose the meat between two sheets of dough and then place it in a tart pan suggests the pastries were not very large. This would simply not be feasible with anything much bigger that a standard pie. The flavours work well together, but it is all rather unadventurous, even with the ginger and cloves added in #66.

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).

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