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1859 and The Modern Cook has a wonderful somewhat challenging recipe for a Christmas Pie.

The book makes claim to some very good credentials so off we go.

‘First, bone a turkey, a goose, a brace of young pheasants, four partridges, four woodcocks, a dozen snipes, four grouse, and four widgeons (These are freshwater duck of Eurasia and northern Africa related to mallards and teals) then boil and trim a small York ham and two tongues.

Season and garnish the inside of the fore-named game and poultry with long fillets of fat bacon and tongue, and French truffles ; each must be carefully sewn up with a needle and small twine, so as to prevent the force-meat from escaping while they are being baked.

The Christmas Pie

When the whole of these are ready, line two round or oval braising- pans with thin layers of fat bacon, and after the birds have been arranged therein in neat order, and covered in with layers of bacon and buttered paper, put the lids on, and set them in the oven to bake rather slowly, for about four hours: then withdraw them, and allow them to cool.

While the foregoing is in progress, prepare some highly-seasoned aspic-jelly with the carcasses of the Game and poultry, to which add six calves-feet, and the usual complement of vegetables, &c, and when done, let it be clarified: one-half should be reduced previously to its being poured into the pie when it is baked. Make about sixteen pounds of hot-water paste (No. 1251)


Ingredients:—One pound of flour, four ounces of butter, a teaspoonful of salt, about a gill and a half of hot water.

Place the flour on the pastry-table, spread it out with the back of the hand, so as to form a well or hollow in the centre, into this put the salt. Next, put the butter and water into a stew pan over the fire, and when they are sufficiently heated, so that one can just bear the finger in, pour them both gradually in upon the flour, and mix them quickly together with the hand, taking particular care to knead the whole firmly, and at once, into a compact paste: then press this smoothly together in a napkin, and afterward keep it covered up in a stew pan in a warm place till used.

and use it to raise a pie of sufficient dimensions to admit of its holding the game and poultry prepared for the purpose, for making which follow the directions contained in the foregoing article. The inside of the pie must first be lined with thin layers of fat bacon’ over which spread a coating of well-seasoned force-meat of fat livers (No. 247)


Take the whole or part of a light-coloured calf’s liver, or several fat livers of any kind of poultry, if to be obtained. If calf’s liver be used, cut it into rather small square pieces, and, if time permit, steep them in cold spring water, in order to extract the blood, so that the force-meat may be whiter. Take the pieces of liver out of the water, and place them upon a clean rubber to drain the water from them. Meanwhile cut some fat ham or bacon (in equal proportion to the liver) into square pieces, put them into a sauté-pan on a brisk fire to fry, after which add the pieces of liver, and fry the whole of a light brown colour; season with cayenne pepper and salt, and a little prepared aromatic spice (No. 1250)


Take of nutmegs and mace, one ounce each ; of cloves and white pepper-corns, two ounces each ; of sweet-basil, marjoram, and thyme, one ounce each, and half an ounce of bay-leaves : these herbs should be previously dried for the purpose : roughly pound the spices, then place the whole of the above ingredients between two sheets of strong white paper, and after the sides have been twisted or folded over tightly, so as to prevent as much as possible the evaporation of the volatile properties of the herbs and spices, place them on a baking sheet in the skreen to become perfectly dry ; they must then be pounded quickly, sifted through a fine hair-sieve, corked up tightly in a dry bottle, and kept for use.

some chopped mushrooms, parsley, and three shallots. After this, take the pieces of liver and ham out of the pan, lay them on a chopping-board, and chop them fine ; then put them into a mortar with the remaining contents of the pan ; pound the whole thoroughly, and rub it through a wire sieve on to an earthen dish. This kind of force-meat, or farce, is an excellent ingredient in making raised pies. the birds should then be placed in the following order:—First, put the goose  the bottom with some of the small birds round it, filling up the cavities with some of the force-meat ; then, put the turkey and the pheasants with thick slices of the boiled ham between them) reserving the woodcocks and widgeons, that these may be placed on the top : fill the cavities with force-meat and truffles, and cover the whole with thin layers of fat bacon, run a little plain melted butter over the top surface, cover the pie in the usual manner, and ornament it with a bold design. The pie must now be baked, for about six hours, in an oven moderately heated, and when taken out, and after the reduced aspic above alluded to has been poured into it, stop the hole up with a small piece of paste, and set it aside in the larder to become cold.

Note.—The quantity of game, &c, recommended to be used in the preparation of the foregoing pie may appear extravagant enough, but it is to be remembered that these very large pies are mostly in request at Christmas time. Their substantial aspect renders them worthy of appearing on the side-table of those wealthy epicures who are wont to keep up the good old English style, at this season of hospitality and good cheer.’