This recipe comes from Patrick Lamb’s 1710 cookbook, Royal Cookery, or the Complete Court-Cook. Patrick Lamb served as the master-cook to a succession of British monarchs, starting with King Charles II in 1683 and ending with Queen Anne in 1708. In addition to recipes, his book provides table layouts for some of the elaborate feasts he served at court – including coronation feasts, which he would have needed to prepare three times over the course of his career for three different monarchs.
Lamb writes that this mushroom patty would be proper to serve for second course. Based on his table layouts, it would most likely be a small side-dish served alongside several other dishes.
Although the mushrooms are baked as a pie, the pastry is not really meant to be eaten. In the 17th and 18th centuries, pastry was often used mostly as a container to hold the filling. The top of the pie would be cut off when the dish was served, and the filling would be spooned out rather than cut in slices. Although the pastry is certainly edible, the important part of the dish is the mushrooms.
- at least 32oz of mushrooms (I used a small 7-inch pie pan; for a larger pan you would need more mushrooms)
- quarter of a pound of butter
- one bunch of parsley, minced
- 2 pieces of bacon
- 4 cloves
- 1 onion
- spoonful of flour
- half a lemon
- pie crust (any pie crust would work – Patrick Lamb doesn’t give any recipes for pastry, so I used a recipe from The Cook’s and Confectioner’s Dictionary)
- Melt the butter in the largest saucepan you have (mushrooms like to have space). Remove the outer skin of the onion, cut it in half, stick the cloves into the onion halves, and place them in the saucepan. Add the bacon and the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cover the saucepan and let the mushrooms simmer over medium heat for a few minutes, until they start releasing liquid.
- Uncover the saucepan and start tossing the mushrooms regularly to keep them from sticking. Sauté until the liquid is reduced “as thick about ’em as a good Cream.” This will take awhile; maybe 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the saucepan and the amount of mushrooms.
- Remove the onion (in the original recipe, the author instructs you to remove both the onion and the bacon – I chose to take out the bacon, cut it up in smaller pieces, and put it back in. Why waste good bacon?)
- Add the spoonful of flour and stir to keep it from burning, 1-2 minutes. Remove the saucepan from heat and add the parsley.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a pie pan with pastry. Place the mushrooms in the pie pan, cover with the top sheet of pastry, and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the pastry is done.
- Remove the top crust and squeeze in the juice of half a lemon to serve.
- Another option: Patrick Lamb also suggests baking this in only the bottom crust, with breadcrumbs sprinkled on top instead of a top crust. This would also work and would require less pastry.
This was absolutely delicious. Well, I should say that the mushrooms were absolutely delicious. The pastry was fairly bland and boring – but again, at the time, people generally wouldn’t have eaten the pastry.
But back to the filling – the bacon, onion, parsley, and lemon all worked together perfectly with the mushrooms. I think I would have a hard time with this dish at a feast, since I would just keep eating the mushrooms and not leave room for anything else! If all of Patrick Lamb’s creations were this good, I can definitely see how he managed to remain head cook through the reigns of four very different monarchs.
Lamb, P. (1710) Royal cookery, or, the complete court-cook. London: Abel Roper. https://www.loc.gov/item/44025907/
Royal Collection Trust (n.d.) Royal cookery, or, the complete court-cook. https://www.rct.uk/collection/1075247/royal-cookery-or-the-complete-court-cook