Week 4 - Gammon of Bacon Pie

Our week 2 winner Andrea O’Brien recently messaged us saying she hopes this week’s recipe will be something simple. Did we listen to her request? Of course not! It’s Week 4 people. Time to kick it up a notch!

This week we’re making a Gammon of Bacon Pie. That’s right Cook Off fans. It’s pastry week! The recipe is courtesy of Gervase Markham’s The English Housewife: containing the inward and outward virtues which ought to be in a complete woman first published in 1615, and goes like this:

Take a Gammon of Bacon, and onely wash it clean, and then boyl it on a soft gentle fire, till it be boyl’d as tender as is possible, ever and anon fleeting [skimming] it clean, that by all means it may boyl white: then take off the sward [skin], and farce [stuff] it very well with all manner of sweet and pleasant farcing [stuffing] herbs: then strew store of Pepper over it, and prick it thick with Cloves: then lay it into a coffin [pie crust] made of the same proportion, and lay good store of Butter round about it, and upon it, and strew Pepper on the Butter, that as it melts, the Pepper may fall upon the Bacon: then cover it, and make the proportion of a Pigs Head in paste upon it, then bake it as you bake red Deer, or things of the like nature, only the Paste would be of Wheat-meal.

Clear as mud? Don’t worry. If you’ve been following the Colony’s Facebook page, you’ll know that Lori and Krista have hard at work on this recipe since Monday. They’ve generously passed along the following tips and tricks:

No Gammon? No Grief. Don’t worry if you can’t get your hands on gammon, which is a bacon cured ham. Use smoked ham, smoked trotters/hocks, or any other smoked pig part instead. We know they’re not the same, but chances of finding gammon at a local grocery store (at least here in Newfoundland and Labrador) is slim to none.

Flakey Pastry? Forget About It. For this recipe you’ll need a hardy pastry that will stand up to this pie’s chunky filling and hold it’s shape when cool ... hot water pastry. There are plenty of recipes and how to videos on the web. Lori and Krista’s go to comes courtesy of Paul Hollywood.

What the Farce? Baffled by the phrase “pleasant farcing herbs”? A bit of research produced the following recipe for Gammon of Bacon (from William Salmon’s The Family Dictionary, or Household Companion, published in 1695). It provides some suggestions for period appropriate herbs:

To dress this the neatest way, having water’d it, scrubb’d it with a Brush, and scraped the Rind, and dry’d it again with a Cloth, put it into a Kettle wherein it may have sufficient room: then take Sage, Marjoram, Fennel, Sprigs of Bays and Rosemary, and boil it till it is enough; then split the Skin, and so curiously carve it, and stick the places so stript with Cloves; strew some Pepper on it, and serve it up with Mustard, Pepper, Vinegar, and the Herbs small minced, cut up in fine slices of what length you please, but of very indifferent thickness.

Feel Free to Freestyle. As always, feel free to make this recipe your own. Lori and Krista report that Wednesday’s pie with brown sugar and currants received rave reviews (and plenty of requests for second helpings). The addition of apple is an obvious choice. Hannah Woolley (the Martha Steward of the 17th century) suggested adding oysters to her Gammon of Bacon Pie:

Take a Westphalia Gammon, and boil it tender with hay in the Kettle, then take off the Skin and stick it with Cloves and strew it with Pepper, then make your Pie ready, and put it therein with Butter at the bottom, then cover your Bacon with Oysters, parboiled in Wine and their own Liquor, and put in Balls made of Sausage meat, then put in the Liquor of the parboiled Oysters, some whole Spice and Bay Leaves, with some Butter, so close it, and bake it and eat it cold, you may put into it the yolks of hard Eggs if you please, serve it with Mustard Sugar and Bay Leaves

Remember.... Post a pic of your raised piggy pie on the Colony’s Facebook page to be automatically entered for both this week’s prize and our grand prize. Don’t be shy. In the Great Colonial Cook Off, every cook gets an A for effort! Deadline for this week’s recipe is midnight Wednesday, August 9th. Good luck!