Holiday Cooking with Washington

By Caitlin Conley
December 5, 2014

Caitlin is a Research Assistant for the Bibliography Project and is part of the Papers of George Washington social media team.

What’s the best thing about the holidays? The food, of course! In our 1999 inaugural newsletter, we celebrated holiday food by talking about one of George’s favorites: the Yorkshire Christmas pie.

Martha would have seen the recipe for the pie in her cookbook: Mrs. Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery. It was published originally in England in 1747 and went through several editions, being one of the most popular cookbooks in both England and America. Take a look at Martha’s edition, which dates from the early 1770’s:

“Hannah Glasse, The art of cookery, made plain and easy: which far exceeds anything of the kind ever yet published,” in Martha Washington, Item #67, (accessed December 4, 2014).


And here’s the recipe that she would have used–do you think you could make this dish?

“To Make a Yorkshire Christmas Pie”

“FIRST make a good standing crust, let the wall and bottom be very thick; bone  turkey, a goose, a fowl, a partridge, and a pigeon. Season them all very well, take half an ounce of mace, half an ounce of nutmegs, a quarter of an ounce of cloves, and half an ounce of black pepper, all beat fine together, two large spoonfuls of salt, and then mix them together. Open the fowls all down the back, and bone them; first the pigeon, then the partridge, cover them; then the fowl, then the goose, and then the turkey, which must be large; season them all well first, and lay them in the curst, so as it will look only like a whole turkey; then have a hare ready cased, and wiped with a clean cloth. Cut it to pieces; that is, joint it; season it, and lay it as close as you can on one side; on the other side woodcocks, moor game, and what sort of wild fowl you can get. Season them well, and lay them close; put at least four pounds of butter into the pie, then lay on your lid, which must be a very thick one, and let it be well baked. It must have a very hot oven, and will take at least four hours.”

And we all think that a turducken is a lot of protein! The Yorkshire pie was a lot of food even for George. He wrote to his friend David Humphreys on the day after Christmas in 1786 about Humphreys not being able to spend the holiday at Mount Vernon: “Although I lament the effect, I am pleased at the cause which has deprived us of your aid in the attack of Christmas Pyes. We had one yesterday on which all the company (and pretty numerous it was) were hardly able to make an impression” (see the Confederation Series 4:477-81 of the Papers of George Washington).

Happy holidays!



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