Chicken Pie
Redaction by THL Dagonell

"Of the Mixture of Paste -- Your course Wheat-crust should be kneaded with hot
water, or Mutton broth, and good store of butter, and the paste made stiffe and
tough, because that Coffin must be deep."
-- Gervase Markham
The English Hous-wife

    To a medieval cook, a 'coffin' wasn't merely a pie-shell, but a method of 
    preserving food, not unlike modern canning.  The crust was meant to be 
    thick and chewy, to preserve the food inside it, flavor was secondary.  It 
    also served to allow the eater to hold the meat pie in one hand without it 
    falling apart, much like a modern burrito. When making a pie shell in a pie
    pan, roll the dough out very thin to keep the crust from being too chewy.

    My wife and I live out in the country and make a lot of our food 'from 
    scratch'.  We buy milk from the farmer down the road and pasteurize it 
    ourselves.  We make our own butter and our own curds, the latter being a 
    home-made version of cottage cheese.  The leftover liquid from making curds 
    is called whey, and we keep a jar of it in the fridge to use instead of 
    water in baking bread.  It's more nutrious and more flavorful.

    We own a vitamix and grind our own flour from fresh wheat berries.  The 
    original recipe didn't call for salt, but we added it as a concession to 
    modern taste buds.  A pie crust without a pinch of salt would taste bland 
    to a modern American palate.

1/2 pound butter
6 tablespoons hot water, broth or whey
2-1/2 cups fine flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cut the butter into small bits and add the hot whey.  Beat with a blender until
the butter is creamy and no trace of the whey remains in the bottom of the bowl.
Let chill.

Sift flour and add salt.  Add flour mixture to butter mixture.  Knead the 
mixture by hand, until the dough is no longer sticky.  Divide into two balls,
and wrap in waxed paper.  The dough may be kept in the refridgerator for 
several days, or in a freezer for several months.


"To bake a Chikin Pie -- To bake a Chickin Pie after you have trust your 
Chickins, broken their legges and breast bones, and raised your crust of the 
best past, you shall lay them in the coffin close together with their bodies 
full of butter: Then lay upon them and underneath them currants, great raysons, 
prunes, cinamon, suger, whole mace and salt: then cover all with great store of 
butter and so bake it.  After powre into it the same liquor you in your marrow 
bone Pie* with the yelkes of 2 or 3 eggs beaten amongst it: And so serve it 
forth."
-- Gervase Markham
The English Hous-wife

*The preceding recipe for marrow-bone pie used a liquor of white wine, rose
water, sugar, cinnamon and vinegar.

    Fortunately, we get our chickens pre-butchered and pre-plucked from the
    same farmer we get our milk and eggs from.  A hand-built chicken plucker
    is the most amazing machine you will ever see outside of a Rube Goldberg
    cartoon.

    Since one of my hobbies is redacting medieval recipes, I have rose-water
    on hand.  If you don't, just skip it.  I also have a wide variety of
    vinegars on hand.  I used a Raspberry wine vinegar for this recipe.  I
    keep white vinegar with the rest of the cleaning supplies, why do you
    ask?  I tend to use brown sugar rather than white sugar in my recipe
    redactions, it's closer to what they would have used.  I also tend to
    be stingy with eggs.  We've been breeding hens for larger eggs for 
    multiple generations now.  Two modern eggs contain as much egg as three 
    medieval ones would have.  

1 pie-shell (see recipe above)
1 chicken
1/4 cup currants
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup prunes
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon brown sugar
pinch of mace (1/8 teaspoon?)
pinch of salt 
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup white wine
1 Tablespoon rose water
1 Tablespoon vinegar
2 eggs

If you're using the pie shell recipe listed above rather than a pre-made
pie shell, remember to roll the crust thinly, or the crust will be very
chewy.  Bake the empty shell at 425* for about ten minutes.  Let cool.
This will keep the pie shell from becoming soggy when you add the liquid
filling.

The original recipe implies that the chicken was baked bones and all which
is not unusual if the intent was to preserve food rather than eat it 
immediately.  We decided to boil the chicken until the meat came off the 
bone.  We used the broth to make a lovely Minestrone soup stock that same
evening.

Into a large mixing bowl, mix the wine, rose-water, vinegar, egg yolks,
cinnamon, brown sugar, mace, and salt.  If you use modern white cooking wine, 
go easy on the salt, as the cooking wine already contains salt.  Add the 
currants, raisins and prunes and let the mixture sit and blend flavors while
you de-bone the chicken.

Add the chicken meat to the pie filling and mix well.  Pour into pie shell
and cover the filling with shavings of butter.  Roll out the other pie
dough very thinly for a lid.  Place it on top, seal the edges with a fork,
pierce steam holes with the same fork, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes 
at 350*.  If you're going to use a raw chicken, bones and all like the original 
recipe, bake it longer, at least 45 minutes.

Uncover the pie, sprinkle the lid with additional brown sugar for flavor and
bake uncovered at 350* until the pie lid browns, approximately 15 minutes.
It's best when served hot, however I brought a cold pie to my church potluck
and they left nothing but the pie pan.