Friday, December 16, 2011

Twelve Days of Tudor Christmas: Feasting

The Fourth Day of our Tudor Christmas bring us to one of the most important aspects of a Tudor Christmas: Feasting. I am going to focus on some of the most popular food items; Minced Pies, Meat, and Puddings.

Minced pies were enjoyed by Tudors from the lowliest peasants to the King and his court. Minced pies were made with thirteen ingredients to represent Christ an his apostles. Below is a traditional minced pie recipes. Often times, pies were shaped like a crib (to represent the Christ child) or decorated with a crib or infant child (like the image to the right).

Traditional Tudor Minced Pies
1 cup lamb (minced)
1/2 cup veal (minced)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup raisins
1 cup currants
1 orange (both zest and juice)
1/2 lemon (both zest and juice)
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground mace
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 cup dates
Individual Pie Crusts

Mix ingredients. Cover and let sit overnight. Place filling in Pie Crusts. Place extra crust on top of each pie (you can cut top crust into fun Christmas shapes). Dust with egg yolk. Bake at 400 degrees F for 30 mins or until golden brown.

Meat was the main course of any Christmas feast. For peasants, poultry or game would have to suffice. However, for the rich, Swan, Peacock, and a Boar's Head were eaten. The first Christmas Turkey in England dates from the early 1520's, and was served to none other than King Henry VIII himself.

Though expensive, Queen Elizabeth ordered that every household in England should eat goose as part of their Christmas Feast in 1588, as it was the first meal she enjoyed after the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Needless to say, many of the Queen's poorer subjects had to settle for much smaller and less expensive game.

Presentation was extremely important in Tudor England. When meat, such as swan or peacock, was cooked, the skin and feathers were removed, then replaced once the bird had finished roasting, leaving the bird to look as if it had never been cooked!

Christmas pudding has been a very popular Christmas treat since the Middle Ages. In the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church decreed that every household was to serve a pudding made on the 25th. It was to be prepared with 13 ingredients to represent Christ and his 12 apostles, with every family member taking a turn to stir the pudding from east to west, to honor the Magi.

Here's the link to an excellent Christmas Pudding recipes from Historical Foods.

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