Tartes of Flessh (recipe)

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Period Recipe

From the Forme of Cury.

Take Pork ysode and grynde it smale. tarde harde eyrenn isode & ygrounde and do �erto with Chese ygronde. take gode powdour and hool spices, sugur, safroun, and salt & do �erto. make a coffyn as to feel sayde & do �is �erinne, & plaunt it with smale briddes istyned & counyng. & hewe hem to smale gobettes & bake it as tofore. & serue it forth.


  • Tartes of Flesh. So we have Tarte Poleyn, Lel. Coll. IV. p. 226. i.e. of Pullen, or Poultry.
  • tarde, r. take. For see No. 169.
  • to feel sayde. tofore sayde according to Curye on Inglysch Part IV no. 176, where the preceding recipe said, "Make a coffyn an ynche depe . . . And couere the coffyn . . ."
  • istyned. istyued, ibid.

Modern Recipe

Take [simmered or boiled] pork and grind it small. Take ground hard boiled eggs and add them with ground cheese. Take good powders and whole spices, sugar, saffron and salt and add to the mixture. Make a pastry shell as described above [an inch deep] and put this in it, and then plant it with stewed small birds, and mature rabbit(s), and cut them into small pieces and bake it as described above [cover the shell and bake it well], and serve it forth.


  • 2 large sheets of Pastry
  • 400 grams fresh Pork
  • about 300–400 grams small bird(s) (no larger than quail, ideally smaller)
  • 1 Rabbit
  • 150 grams hard cheese (or firm semisoft cheese; preferably a traditional English farmhouse variety)
  • 2 large Eggs, hard boiled
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon/cassia
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole mace (larger pieces may be broken)
  • 1/2 teaspoon small whole cloves
  • About 15–20 threads of saffron, freshly ground
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon coriander seed, freshly ground


  1. Make sure that the rabbit and birds are gutted, then simmer till done and and let cool. Reserve broth for other uses. Cut them into bite-sized pieces, removing bones (except that if your birds are very small, with bones light enough to chew, then leaving bones in might be an option). Set aside.
  2. Simmer pork until done and then let cool.
  3. Grind pork, cheese and eggs, and mix together. Mix all seasonings together and then mix them with the pork mixture.
  4. Grease a wide pie pan (9" or wider, and not deep-dish) and line with one sheet of pastry. Fill this shell no more than two thirds full with the pork mixture, then stick pieces of rabbit and bird meat into the top until the pan is full. Cover with the second sheet of pastry, sealing the edges, and decorate the top, cutting some air vents.
  5. Bake in a 200 C oven for about 40 minutes, until well cooked with a lightly browned crust. Cool briefly before serving.


The historical version of this recipe was taken from the Project Gutenberg e-text of the Forme of Cury, with some notes added.

The modern recipe is scaled to allow for the use of pans wider than 9", and may be scaled up to fill more 9" pans than the factor by which the recipe is multiplied. This is partly because one full-grown rabbit is a bit much to use in just one 9" tart. To scale up, use a bit less of rabbits and small birds relative to the scaled recipe, as the full amount is likely to leave some left over.

The good powders (ginger, cinnamon and pepper) and whole spices (cloves and mace) in this version are based on general tendencies observed in various other period English recipes that are more specific about seasonings. Of course, conclusions from such observations will be subjective.