The medieval game pie in this recipe was and remains a wonderful, economical and delicious treat. Still today, we make these in the form of pates, chicken and beef pot pies. A true classic!

A Grete Pye
Recipe type: Ancient Cuisine
Serves: 6 to 8
  • 1 pound short crust pastry
  • 1 egg white; beaten until liquid
  • 1 pound boned breasts of chicken
  • 1 pigeon or wild duck and/or
  • 1 saddle of hare or rabbit (not stewing meat)
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1 pound minced beef
  • 2 Tablespoons shredded suet
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, yolks crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon and mace and a pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 ounce stoned cooking dates chopped
  • 1 ounce currants
  • 2 ounces stoned prunes soaked and drained
  • 1/2 Cup beef stock
  • 1 Tablespoon rice flour or cornflour
  1. No Christmas feast in medieval times was complete without a 'grete pye'.
  2. In some recipes, it could contain many varied meats, but quite often only two or three different kinds were suggested; change the meats suggested here if you wish.
  3. Use just over half the pastry to line a 23-cm/9-inch pie plate. Brush the inside with some of the egg white.
  4. Skin the pieces of breast and other meat if necessary and parboil them gently in salted water for 10-15 minutes. Drain and leave to cool.
  5. Mix together in a bowl the minced beef, suet, salt and pepper to taste, the egg yolks and half the spice mixture. Add the rest of the spices to the dried fruit in another bowl.
  6. Slice the parboiled meat.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7.
  8. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of the beef stock to the rice flour or cornflour in a small saucepan and cream them together; then add the remaining stock and stir over gentle heat until slightly thickened. Keep aside.
  9. Cover the bottom of the pastry case with half the mince mixture. Arrange the sliced meat in a flat layer on top.
  10. Scatter the chopped spiced fruit over it and cover with the remaining mince.
  11. Pour the thickened stock over the lot.
  12. Roll out the remaining pastry into a round to make a lid for the pie. Brush the rim of the case with a little more egg white and cover with the lid.
  13. Press the edges to seal, and make escape slits for steam. Decorate with the pastry trimmings and glaze with egg white.
  14. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3 and bake for 45-50 minutes longer.
  15. Serves 6 to 8.
Grete pyes. Take faire yonge beef, And suet of a fatte beste, or of Motton, and hak all this on a borde small; and caste therto pouder of peper and salt; and whan it is small hewen, put hit in a bolle. And medle hem well; then make a faire large Cofyn, and couche som of this stuffur in. Then take Capons, Hennes, Mallardes, Connynges, and parboile hem clene; take wodekokkes, teles, grete briddes, and plom hem in a boiling pot; And then couche al this fowle in the Coffyn, And put in euerych of hem a quantite of pouder of peper and salt. Then take mary, harde yolkes of egges, Dates cutte in ij peces, reisons of coraunce, prunes, hole clowes, hole maces, Canell and saffron. But first, whan thoug hast cowched all thi foule, ley the remenaunt of thyne other stuffur of beef a-bought hem, as thou thenkest goode; and then strawe on hem this: dates, mary, and reysons, &c. And then close thi Coffyn with a lydde of the same paast, And putte hit in the oven, And late hit bake ynough; but be ware, or thou close hit, that there come no saffron nygh the brinkes there-of, for then hit wol neuer close.

Serve with a good hearty ale, a rich red wine or if you have it, a flagon of mead.

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