Not as eminent as the Yorkshire pud or the Bakewell tart, Devizes does have its own pie; who knew? Furthermore, what kind of monstrosity could the filling be; a generous helping of 6X, farmer Perkin’s old boot fished from the crammer, perhaps?! How offal could it possibly be (see what I did there?)
I’ll tell you, shall I, as that’s a lot of questions to digest? Though when I do tell you, you might favour digesting them instead. Basically, it’s cold calf’s head, complete with brains, some pickled tongue, sweetbreads, lamb and veal added, with bacon, and hard-boiled eggs; nice.
It might not sound very Devizes, being it’s got brains, but the final couple of questions for today are, can we modernise it, with, I dunno, doner meat and chips? And why all the fuss now about some fifteenth century pie recipe?
While I’m happy to hear many events of The Devizes Food Festival have already sold out, they’re keen to bring back the pie, least with an opportunity to create a new Devizes Pie.
Yes, keen cooks and pie enthusiasts are being invited to create a new recipe for the celebrated Devizes Pie, which will appeal to modern tastes at this year’s Devizes Food and Drink Festival.
There will be two categories – a meat pie and a vegetarian pie – and an entrance fee of £3 per pie.
Sponsored by multi award-winning West Country Devizes based butchers, Walter Rose & Sons, the winner of each category will receive a £100 voucher to spend on Rose’s exceptional locally sourced meat, fresh fish or choose from their extensive delicatessen products.
Entrants will be asked to create a pie containing any assortment of meat, vegetables, and other flavourful ingredients encased in pastry and suitable to be served and eaten cold [as was the original]. Imagination and taste exploration is the order of the day!
Judging will take place at 12 noon on Saturday 25th September, the opening day of the weeklong festival, in the Corn Exchange, Market Place, Devizes. The Walter Rose Devizes Pie competition 2021 will be judged by Lisa Markwell, editor of ‘Dish’, the Sunday Times food magazine, Steve Cook, director Walter Rose & Sons and Chris Gay, Mayor of Devizes, who said, “this is such an excellent competition. I have eaten a Devizes pie made from the original old recipe and it is certainly not a pie that would appeal to many modern pie eaters! A new and delicious Devizes Pie, to add to all our other tasty, local specialties, is a wonderful idea. Well done, Devizes Food Festival.”
Quite; you and Terry Wogan alone, Chris!
TO ENTER: Enter on-line via the festival website or via Devizes Books, tickets will be available from 16th August. Entrants will need to register their interest, complete the entry form and purchase a £3 ticket per pie [link on website]. Each person may enter as many pies as they like, with each pie attracting a £3 entrance fee.
PIES must be served cold, measure about 20cm/8” in diameter and be enveloped in a pastry case. An ingredients list should be provided highlighting any known allergens. Two categories: Meat and Vegetarian.
But away with all this, sounds far too nice for a Devizine article, I want to get the lowdown on exactly why we have a calf’s brain pie in the first place, why we couldn’t be famous for an ice cream sundae or something like that instead!
The cookery book of one Mrs Dalgairns holds the answer, and she’s not even local, God dammit!
She was born in 1788 on Prince Edward Island in Canada, the location of the Anne of Green Gables books. Mrs Dalgairns was of American\Scots heritage and had family in India; she didn’t even know where Derrick’s Deals come from, let alone who Ruth Peirce was!
She produced a prodigious volume of recipes, 1,597 in total, in multiple editions, dating from 1829-1860 and with culinary influences that reflected her origins, but Devizes Food Festival explains, it is not at all obvious how she came by the recipe for Devizes Pie. She just stuck a pin in a map, I’d presume, a pie with brains after all is hardly apt!
Though the Food Festival say, the lack of clear connections can only allude to the fact that our pie was popular and is therefore a good one. You be the judge of that, I’m off down the Rowdey Cow, and would rather look forward to an updated recipe; the original recipe is below:
Cut into very thin slices, after being dressed, cold calf’s head, with some of the brains, pickled tongue, sweetbreads, lamb, veal, a few slices of bacon, and hard-boiled eggs; put them in layers into a pie-dish, with plenty of seasoning between each, of cayenne, white pepper, allspice, and salt; fill up the dish with rich gravy; cover it with a flour-and-water paste; bake it in a slow oven, and when perfectly cold, take off the crust, and turn the pie out upon a dish; garnish it with parsley and pickled eggs cut into slices.
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