A Week of Martha Washington’s Pies, Day 2 (of 4)

Food & Lifestyle

November 21, 2017
by Editors Also by this Author


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We’ve all heard the expression, “eat humble pie.” It’s used at a metaphor, but humble pie was a real thing and Martha Washington had a recipe for it. It’s a type of savory meat pie, but it may seem less appealing when one learns that “humbles” are the heart, kidneys, liver and other organs of a deer. The recipe suggests alternatives including “pluck,” a general term for animal innards used as food, and wisely directs to “perboyle” them, meaning to boil thoroughly (as opposed to the modern “parboil”). “Verjuice” is the juice of unripe grapes or crabapples. Next time you have to eat humble pie, try the real thing.

To Make an Humble Pie

Take the humbles of a deer, or a calves heart, or pluck, or a sheep’s heart; perboyle it, & when it is cold, shred it small with beef suet, & season it with coves, mace, nutmeg, & ginger beaten small; & mingle with it currants, verjuice & salt; put all into the pie & set it in the oven an hour; then take it out, cut it up & put in some claret wine, melted butter & sugar beat together, then cover it a little & serve it.

[This recipe is taken from Karen Hess, Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery (New York: Columbia University Press, 1981). The spelling has been modernized for readability.]

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