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Rook Pie

Pies and Pastries

There are several known receipts for rook, and here for Rook Pies, (Eaton 1822, etc) often including hard-boiled eggs.

Our correspondent John Fisk (2022) recalls of life on the Suffolk coast that "my father had a dish made of sparrows caught by small boys. Rook Pie was a seasonal dish from early summer when young rooks were grown but not fledged so we’re taken from the nests by hand (like squabs) and the breasts soaked in milk overnight before being baked in a pie the following day."

'The Rook' from 'What the Blackbird Said', 1881

Original Receipt in 'The Cook and Housekeeper's Dictionary' by Mary Eaton (Eaton 1822);

ROOK PIE. Skin and draw some young rooks, cut out the backbones, and season with pepper and salt. Lay them in a dish with a little water, strew some bits of butter over them, cover the dish with a thick crust, and bake it well.

Original Receipt from 'The Field' June 1, 2016

Rook pie from the Arundell Arms

Organised rook shoots were once a traditional part of the country calendar. Young rooks, known as “branchers” as they hop around on the branches, would be shot in the vicinity of the nest and a rook pie would be made from the breast meat. Older country folk still talk nostalgically of rook pie and it is time to bring this classic recipe back into the modern country kitchen. Try this rook pie recipe from Francis Denford and Chris Heaver at the Arundell Arms.

4-6 fledgling rook breasts
100g chopped beef
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, chopped
55ml beef stock
1 packet puff pastry
Egg wash
Salt and pepper

Cut the meat into thumb-sized chunks. Seal both meats for a few minutes then add the onion and carrots.
Introduce the beef stock and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the meat and reduce the stock to a thick sauce.
When reduced to the required consistency, return the meat and place in a flameproof pie dish. Place the rolled pastry on top. Vent the pastry before egg washing and seasoning.
Cook at 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 for 30 minutes.

See: Small Birds

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