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Devon Squab Pie - a Very Old Recipe Using Mutton

Updated on October 8, 2017
Peter Geekie profile image

A retired pharmaceutical and industrial chemist, author and historian specialising in military events.

Devon Squab Pie
Devon Squab Pie

Devon Squab pie is a very old recipe peculiar to the counties of Devon and Cornwall in the west of England. Its greatest peculiarity is, however, that the word "squab", which usually refers to a young pigeon in Devon and Cornwall. The cookery term squab here is used to describe mutton or lamb dishes. They do, of course, have pigeon dishes and the recipe is shown elsewhere.

Ingredients

10 neck of mutton chops (or use lamb if you can’t get mutton but it will have less flavour)

1 onion, peeled and sliced

Large pinch of ground allspice (or to taste)

6 sour sliced apples (use cooking apples like Bramleys which don't break up when cooked)

Shortcrust pastry to cover (shop bought or homemade)

1 large free-range egg

Seasoning (salt, pepper, nutmeg, thyme and bay leaf)

1/4 pint lamb stock or water (for flavour you should use a lamb stock. Ask your butcher for some lamb bones or trimmings and make up your own, in advance, with a little salt and pepper and well strained)

Cooking Method

Using a heatproof pie dish lay out the chops, onion and apples, season top layer well and then repeat again until the dish is full. Pour in stock or water and make a pastry lid with a few cuts in the centre to release the steam. Decorate pastry top with offcuts and egg wash all over.

Cook for 2 hours in moderate oven 325deg F

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This much older second recipe mixes both, meat, fruit and spices in the very traditional way of medieval cooking and is variously known as Devon, Gloucester or just plain old West Country Squab Pie. Try to make as much of the ingredients yourself to get the full authentic flavour.

This can be served hot or cold and traditionally has a luxurious helping of Devon (or Cornish) clotted cream on the side of the dinner plate.

Ingredients

2¼ lb. lamb or mutton neck fillet, cubed in about 1-inch squares.

Plain flour with salt and pepper added

2 tbsp vegetable oil or lamb fat

2 leeks, sliced

1 onion, sliced

¼ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp allspice

1 sweet eating apple, sliced

1 Bramley cooking apple, sliced

10 prunes, with stones, removed.

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

2 fresh bay leaves

1-pint lamb or chicken stock (use a stock cube or your own stock - see recipe above)

9 oz puff pastry (use shop bought or homemade)

1 free-range large egg

1 tbsp whole milk

2 tbsp double cream

Clotted cream to taste on side of each dinner plate.

Cooking method

Place the lamb with some flour and salt and pepper into a large plastic bag and shake well making sure the meat is evenly coated. Heat half of the fat in a heatproof casserole and the other half in a frying-pan. Brown both batches of lamb at the same time on all sides then put the meat from the frying-pan into the casserole dish together with any fat or juices.

Wash the leeks well to remove all dirt and slice into rings and add to the frying pan with the onion – add a little more fat if there is not enough, but there should from the chops and gently cook over a medium heat until the onion is golden, not burnt and the leek is softened. Empty the pan contents into the casserole with the lamb and stir in the spices.

Peel and core the eating apple and cut it into about 12 wedge-shaped pieces. Also, prepare the cooking apples in the same way but cut into thin slices. Add both apples evenly spread on top of the lamb together with the prunes, thyme, bay leaves and stock. Bring to the boil, add any additional seasoning to taste and turn down to a simmer. Put on a lid and cook, for 30 minutes, making sure it doesn't burn or go dry, add a little more stock if necessary. Stir in the cream, taste and check the seasoning and place everything in a heatproof pie dish with a capacity of about 1¾ pints. Leave it to cool for a while and then set a pie funnel in the middle.

Roll pastry reasonably thinly until large enough to cover the pie. Using waste pastry cut off strips to fit around the rim of the dish and mix the egg and milk to make an egg wash which you use to stick the pastry strips on. Brush the strips on the rim with more of the egg wash. Place the pastry lid on top of the pie dish and press down and crimp to seal all the way around the edge. Tidy up any excess.and decoratively crimp the edges of the pie and use any leftover pastry to make decorations to your own choice. Use the rest of the egg wash all over the pastry.and cook in a preheated oven at 400°F for 25 minutes.

Devon Squab Pie

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© 2013 Peter Geekie

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