pear tree log: I started this blog to keep my younger son, Jonny, in touch with life in Lincolnshire, while he spent a year working in China. That year turned into five! Now he is home and training to become a physics teacher. This is simply a patchwork quilt of some of the things I enjoy - life in rural Lincolnshire, our animals, friends, architecture, books, the gardens, and things of passing interest.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Stewing Sparrows, and Lambs Tail Pie

This is a very old Kentish pie recipe taken from one of my wonderful old cookery books.
Borrowed image
In spring, when the lambs' tails are cut, they are collected.    About half the tail, the thicker end, is used.   It is flayed and jointed: generally about two dozen tails are used in making an ordinary-sized pie.    Of course the crust is made in the usual way.  

(I have been told that the soft bones in the tails when cooked are like gelatine.)

Here is another version, from Suffolk.

Skin the tails and then stew them a little.   Take them out of the saucepan, cut them up and make a pie, with potatoes and so on.

According to someone who ate lambs' tail pie:  "It was delicious.   I can taste it now.  Delicious!"

There was a widespread and legitimate custom of collecting Sparrows for food - (sorry, Ms Sparrow!).
Borrowed image

They would be netted and caught, then skinned and stewed.    If a piece of pork was available this could be added for flavour and a pie could be made,  sparrow dumplings,  or soup.

Times were hard, people had to be fed...not sure how many sparrows it would take to make a decent pie though.

This next recipe is an eighteenth century one for Rook Pie.

Skin and draw six young rooks, and cut out the back bones; season them well with pepper and salt, put them in a deep dish, with a quarter of a pint of water; lay over them half a pound of butter, make a good puff paste, and cover the dish.   Lay a paper over it, for it requires a good deal of baking.

My final offering is A Heron Pudding.

Before cooking it must be ascertained that no bones of the heron are broken.  These bones are filled with a fish fluid, which, if allowed to come in contact with the flesh, makes the whole bird taste of fish.   

This fluid, however, should be always extracted from the bones, and kept in the medicine cupboard, for it is excellent applied to all sorts of cuts and cracks.

The heron is first picked and flayed.  Then slices are cut from the breast and legs to make the pudding.   The crust is made exactly like that of a meat pudding and the slices of heron put in and seasoned exactly as meat would be.   The pudding is boiled for several hours, according to its size. (I have been told that, as a matter of fact, it tastes very much like a nice meat pudding.)

Thank goodness for Quorn.

Thank you all for your very kind comments on my previous posts.   They were all much appreciated.  Aunt Lillian is making good progress - I can measure this by the number of complaints she makes!

I'll sign off with a few photographs taken on my early morning walk with Toby.


  1. You live in a beautiful area. Thanks for sharing.

    Pleased to hear Aunt Lillian is making good progress.

  2. I, too, am glad Aunt Lillian is making good progress. Since it has been a while since you've blogged, I was fearing you were having a lot of difficulties. Sounds like the situation may be improving a little. We have an abundance of English House Sparrows but I think I will let them fly rather than making pie.

  3. Hello Elaine...I'm not sure I would be up to tasting lamb's tail pie or the sparrows. The photos are beautiful, especially the dovecote. I also like the "new" background.

  4. Love seeing the views surrounding you. Happy your aunt is feeling better and regaining her spirit. I am happy lamb and sparrow pie will not be in my recipe file . . . said while smiling . . .

  5. Oh my what interesting recipes. What a beautiful walk you had. Thanks for brightening my morning. Bonnie

  6. I love reading very old 'receipts' - there was never wasting a bit of an animal's offerings was there? And as for eating sparrows, blackbirds, etc ... look at how many there are! Culling the flocks and using them as a foodstuff is perfectly natural from an agricultural point of view ... know it seems strange now a days, but... this is such a neat post!

  7. I so agree...thank goodness for Quorn!! I can't imagine eating a sweet little sparrow or a lamb's tail:-(( I do have to chuckle because it sounds like an episode of CHOPPED, XOXO

  8. Your quaint old recipes reminded me a bit of Clarissa and Jennifer's "Two Fat Ladies" cooking show. What a lot of work it must have been to make a sparrow or blackbird pie (didn't it take four and twenty of them?) I guess sparrows were better sacrificed to feed hungry people rather than owls and cats. They must have been very lean meats that a half pound of butter needed to be added!

  9. Ah, the culinary delights of Ye Olde England! :)))

  10. I am in awe of your beautiful countryside. Such a stunning place to make your home. Very unique old recipes. I enjoy eating lamb but have never had lamb tails.


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