Real Mea Pie
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The real meat pie from antiquity (You don’t eat the crust)

The real meat pie should consist of meat only, right? Ha, but we already created such a recipe! However, while writing the intro for our Keto Pies and Pizzas cookbook, I found an interesting fact about the history of pies. Ancient bakers in Athens, but also in the rest of the Mediterranean cultural basin, did not eat or care for the crust! It served only as the baking dish for the meat filling. This way they were working on the best ways to slow cook meat in its juices without worrying about washing the dishes! The crust was the dish that they would just throw away! Now, how ingenious was this?

What’s behind the project of a real meat pie?

Why do we use flour or cereals if we are a Keto-oriented website? Arent modern wheat and other grains the main reason many people face health issues? Yes! However, you will not be eating the crust, you’ll use it as a dish and that’s all! Furthermore, all ancient organic cereals are not as toxic as modern ones. And even if you don’t want to eat them, isn’t it fun to create this ancient pie? You would literally experience the meat pie ancient Greeks and Romans ate! I must warn you, this will be the tastiest stew-alike creation! There’s something in the slow cooking method. After all, culinary art is all about the recreation of ancient recipes!

It all started with meat pies…

The first pies known to humans were savoury meat pies where the crusts or pastry were used as a baking dish for meat sauce. Pretty much similar to what we call a meat pie today! The only difference is that the original crust was not edible. It was so thick and tough and it served as a baking dish. People were only eating the filling and throwing the crust away.

Did the Egyptians start the fame?

The foundations of pie creation can be drawn back to ancient Egypt too. The bakers who baked goods for pharaohs were adding nuts, honey and fruits to bread dough. This was a fundamental kind of baked pastry. Representations of this can be seen carved on the tomb walls of Ramses II, stationed in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.

Europe and the Western world

Historians consider that the ancient Greeks introduced pie to the western world. Who else, you might say? Pies from the time of our ancestors featured flour-water paste encased around meat, which helped to cook the meat and keep it juicy. But, we need to remember that Ancient Greeks prefered emmer or barley over wheat! 

The Romans tasted this delicacy and stole the recipes when they conquered Athens. According to records, the wealthy and sophisticated Romans used different types of meat in every dish. It was only natural that what we call the real meat pie was a popular dish. They even had meat for dessert! Ever heard about Secundae Mensae or in Greek επιδόρπιο (Epidorpio)? According to classical documents, seafood and meat were popular ingredients in Roman pies. The enjoyment of pie expanded throughout Europe, thanks to the Roman roads. But the Mediterranean countries kept some typical flavours and methods.

Shall we bake a real meat pie?

You can use any flour for your real meat pie crust that will serve as a dish. We like to be authentic and therefore we’ll use emmer! If you want to use Keto or Low-Carb flours opt for the cheaper Keto flours since you will not eat the crust. Ideally, you would use flaxseed or coconut flour since they are the most affordable ones. Naturally, you will have to add some psyllium to get the dough elasticity! Just be creative and explore the possibilities!

The real meat pie from antiquity

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Recipe by Roberta Kapsalis Course: Ancient recipes, Keto Pie, Main Dishes, MediterraneanCuisine: Ancient MediterraneanDifficulty: Medium
Servings

2

servings
Prep time

40

minutes
Cooking time

30

minutes

Ingredients

  • Crust (Pie dish that you will not eat)
  • 1 kg (2.2 lbs) emmer or spelt flour

  • 6 egg whites

  • 1 tbsp sea salt

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • Use as much water as you need to get a firm dough

  • Pie filling (what you’ll actually eat)
  • 600g (21 oz) cubed lamb (or any meat you prefer)

  • 2 tbsp tallow or butter

  • 6 cloves garlic

  • 2 medium carrots

  • 2 parsley roots (or large celery stalks)

  • 1 tbsp sea salt

  • 6 yolks

  • 1 medium onion

  • A handful of spices and herbs of your choice (read the notes)

  • 500 ml (17 fl oz) water

Directions

  • In a deep pot, brown the meat cubes in tallow or butter. Add cut carrot, parsley root or celery stalks, garlic, bay leaf, juniper berries, cinnamon stick, and sea salt. Stir and add water. Cover the pot and cook for 40 minutes at a low temperature.
  • While the filling is cooking, prepare the dough for the pie dish. Mix all the ingredients with your hands and work the dough until it’s nicely unified. The dough has to be hard and stiff. You can also use a mixer but to pay a tribute to ancient bakers, try to do it with your hands.
  • Line a wide baking sheet with parchment paper. Create a ball using 3/4 of your dough. Place it on parchment paper and press with your fist in the middle. Using your hands greased with tallow or butter create a deep baking dish where you’ll place the filling later. Your dish doesn’t have to be perfect, just make sure it’s deep enough so that all of your fillings can fit in. From the rest of the dough create a flat shape that will serve as the dish lid. Place it next to the dish on the same wide baking sheet.
  • Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF) and prebake the crust dish and the lid for about 20 minutes to harden.
  • When the meat is cooked remove it from heat and let it cool down a bit. Whisk 6 yolks and mix them with the meat mixture. At this point, you can add some powdered smoked paprika to get a nice red colour and flavour.
  • Using a ladle, gently fill the pie dish made of dough with the filling. Chop the onion and sprinkle it all over the filling. Place the lid on top and transfer the pie to the oven. Bake for 40 minutes at 150ºC (300ºF)
  • When the pie is baked wait for at least 15 minutes before you gently remove the lid. Since it was prebaked it will not stick to the crust. Serve hot with freshly chopped herbs such as parsley or dill. You can also sprinkle some aged cheese on top.

Notes

  • Spices and herbs we recommend: fresh bay leaves, rosemary, juniper berries, red peppercorn, cinnamon stick, cloves, oregano, fresh parsley…
  • You can use a mix of different meats or offals and even seafood. For example, popular pies called “umble pies” were made with different parts of animals that would be cheaper than meat. Wealthy society would have pies filled with venison, lamb, duck or pigeon. Regular people would use just root vegetables or inexpensive organ meats. Today we call organ meats ‘offal’, but at that time, organ meats were called ‘umble’ – hence, the name ‘umble’ pie“. But we know that the umble pie is the most nutritious one!
  • For an authentic experience, share the meal with your loved ones. Everyone should use a wooden spoon and eat directly from the crust. You can also scoop some of the fillings and transfer them to clay bowls and then serve with a piece of cheese or olives.

Did you make this recipe?

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