Celebrate in style with Yorkshire Christmas pie

Picture of a Yorkshire Christmas Pie - a large, heavy pastry game pie
Yorkshire Christmas Pie

Yorkshire has to be the best place to celebrate the traditional festivities. We just know how to ‘do’ Christmas in style. We’re very proud that we make the best Christmas puddings, Christmas cakes (eaten with cheddar cheese, of course), mince pies and shortbread. Our award-winning Yorkshire pork pies, Yorkshire cheeses and chutneys are renowned all over the world. Even in these difficult covid times, we’ll do our best to celebrate and stay safe within the guidelines.

Did you know that amongst these seasonal delights we have our own very special Yorkshire Christmas pie? It’s baked in a large oval-shaped dish with a large crust and filled with seasoned boned game and roasting birds. The earliest mention of this spectacular culinary tour de force is in Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery, published in 1740 (although it’s most likely that we Yorkshire folk were making it long before then).

Hannah Glasse

Here’s Hannah’s recipe:

“FIRST make a good standing crust, let the wall and bottom be very thick; bone a turkey, a goose, a fowl, a partridge, and a pigeon. Season them all very well, take half an ounce of mace, half an ounce of nutmegs, a quarter of an ounce of cloves, and half an ounce of black-pepper, all beat fine together, two large spoonfuls of salt, and then mix them together.

“Open the fowls all down the back, and bone them; first the pigeon, then the partridge; cover them; then the fowls then the goose, and then the turkey, which must be large; season them all well first, and lay them in the crust, so as it, will look only like a whole turkey; then have a hare ready cased, and wiped with a clean cloth. Cut it to pieces, that is, joint it; season it, and lay it as close as you can on one side; on the other side woodcocks, moor game, and what sort of wild-fowl you can get.

“Season them well, and lay them close; put at least four pounds of butter into the pie, then lay on your lid, which must be a very thick one, and let it be well baked. It must have a very hot oven, and will take at least four hours. This crust will take a bushel of flour. These pies are often sent to London in a box, as presents; therefore, the walls must be well built”.

Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery, 1747

A century later, Charles Francatelli, chef to Queen Victoria, included his recipe for this stunning party piece in his book The Modern Cook (London: 1846). There is a record of Yorkshire Christmas pie being served up for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at Christmas in 1857. Francatelli explains the extravagance of the ingredients:

“… 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”.

Whilst we might not be keeping up with these wealthy Victorians, the Christmas season is the time when we hope we can keep our local traders in business and indulge in popular seasonal delights. Whatever you are doing and wherever you are this season, we wish you a very Happy Yorkshire Christmas … and as always stay safe!

More of Meryl’s recipes:

Read more about Grandma Abson’s life, her passion for baking and check out her Christmas recipes on www.grandmaabson.com and head over to Instagram @potsaway to check out how Meryl and Patrick are cooking together again.

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