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Humbles of a Deere

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This "mincemeat" pie is a combination of meat and sweet that is uncommon in modern western cuisine. Because of this, and the associations of mincemeat with Christmas traditions, it has a sort of special holiday feel to it.

There are some quirks in this recipe worth noting. There is little to suggest that the recipe is for a pie, however it is clear that finely chopped meat must be baked inside a container of some sort, and the recipes on either side of this one in the original source are for tarts and pies. Further, while there is no explicit instruction to boil the kidneys before cooking, the majority of medieval recipes for humbles do state that this should be done.

Deer kidneys can be very hard to obtain, and may not appeal to everyone. Fortunately, minced or ground venison may be used in place of the deer kidneys without substantially changing the flavor of this recipe.


1 lb. deer kidneys
1/2 cup dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup currants
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. cloves
1/8 tsp. mace
2 Tbsp. butter

4 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger


Slice the kidneys and boil them well in water until they are cooked through. Allow them to cool, and then mince them. Place them into a bowl, along with the dates, currants, sugar, and spices. Mix well and put into a 9-inch pie crust. Top with pats of butter and cover with top crust. Make a half-inch hole in the center of the pie. Bake at 350°F until the crust is golden brown.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Mix sugar, cinnamon, and ginger together and add to butter. Bring to a boil and then pour as much as possible into the hole in the top of the pie. Serve warm.

Source [The Good Housewife's Jewell, T. Dawson]: To bake the humbles of a Deere. Mince them verie small, and season them with pepper, Sinamom and ginger, and suger if you will, and cloues & mace, and dates, and currants, and if you will, mince Almonds, and put unto them, and when it is baked, you may put in fine fat, and put in suger, sinamom and ginger, and let it boile, and when it is minced, put them together.

Published: April 29, 2008

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