Wallington mince pies as they used to be
PUBLISHED: 00:16 07 December 2010 | UPDATED: 18:15 20 February 2013
One of the region's top chefs joins forces with the National Trust's Wallington estate to bring to life a 238-year-old festive recipe
A Christmas treat dating back to Georgian times is enjoying a revival this festive season. Mince pies as they used to be are back on the menu courtesy of the National Trust and an award-winning Newcastle-based chef.
David Kennedy of the renowned Black Door Group has joined forces with the Wallington estate at Cambo in the heart of Northumberland, to treat discerning diners to a taste of Christmases past.
And minced Wallington beef is at the heart of the unique collaboration.
For the Black Door Group which has outlets in Newcastle and Morpeth and Wallingtons new Clocktower Caf will for the first time be offering mince pies made with beef on their Yuletide menus.
The partnership forged at this years two-day Wallington Food and Craft Festival where David gave a series of cookery demonstrations, will see the former North East Chef of the Year and National Trust staff stepping back in time to bring a 238-year-old recipe to life again.
The formula for the mince pies made using boiled beef alongside what we now regard as the traditional syrupy dried fruit filling is contained in a rare 18th century cookery book written by a housekeeper at Wallington.
Mary Smith worked for Sir Walter Calverly Blackett at the Palladian mansion which is now in the hands of the National Trust.
It was in 1772 that she published - probably with the help of Sir Walter - her only known recipe book, The Complete House-Keeper and Professed Cook Calculated for the Greater Ease and Assistance of Ladies, House-Keepers, Cooks etc, etc.
Published 90 years before Mrs Beetons more famous Book of Household Management, Marys work was printed in Newcastle by T Slack and went on general sale. Wallington still has an original copy in its collection.
Among its many recipes are several festive ones, including the one for mince pie meat made using beef, as was the custom at the time.
After being shown a copy of Mary Smiths book at the Wallington Food and Craft Festival and hearing of the plans by the propertys head chef, Malcolm Brown, to revitalize the mince pie recipe, David jumped at the chance to add the savoury treats to the menu at his restaurants in the Biscuit Factory, Newcastle, and Morpeths Bridge Street.
The pastries will be sold under the Wallington/National Trust banner and will be billed as Mary Smiths Georgian Mince Meat Pies.
Both David and Malcolm expect the pies to be a hit with the public.
Malcolm says: Not everyone likes the cloying sweetness of modern day mince pies, and while Mary Smiths recipe still uses dried fruit, spices, apple, sugar and brandy, the minced beef helps to take away the syrupiness.
The feedback in the taste tests we have done has been great. Most people have preferred Mary Smiths recipe to modern day mince pies.
David enjoyed working on the Mary Smith recipe and had been immediately drawn to it.
I was really attracted to the idea of resurrecting the traditional mince pie. The meat version tastes exceptionally good. We will be offering diners with adventurous tastes the chance to sample it with their coffee throughout December.
David has converted Mary Smiths recipe using gills and pints into one that can pass muster in a modern kitchen. It took him around a dozen
pie making sessions to tweak the recipe to everyones liking.
My chefs were getting heartily tired of being the guinea pigs, he jokes. But what we have is a recipe that is as near to Mary Smiths 18th century one as we could make it.
Wallington, Cambo, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 4AR, 01670 773 600, www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wallington. The ground floor of the house will be open Thursday-Sunday throughout December and decorated to show a 1950s Christmas. The walled garden and grounds are open all year.
The Clocktower Cafe, gift shop and farm shop will be open 10.30am-4pm seven days a week over the winter. From November 29 the caf will be offering a festive menu, including Mary Smiths mince meat pies.