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Roman Pie // 1940s

Roman pie, commonly filled with a mixture of rabbit (or fowl), cheese, cream and macaroni, was once a dish regularly spotted in cookbooks or on the menus of restaurants or formal banquets. The earliest recipe and record of a Roman pie that we found dated from 1870. But their appearance was fleeting, and by the 1950s and 80 years since their first apparent mention, they were never to be heard of again! Well, another 80 years has nearly passed since then and after trying this WW2 variety, we believe that the Roman Pie is due a comeback.
Original Recipe: 'Roman Pie' (Book 6, 1943)
Speed: About 2 ½ hrs | Serves: 6-8


For the short crust pastry:

  • ½ lb / 227g Plain Flour

  • 2 oz / 57 g of Lard

  • 2 oz / 57 g of Margarine

  • Water

  • 1 Egg

For the meat:

  • ½ a Rabbit or Fowl, jointed (we used rabbit)

  • 1 small Onion, or ½ a medium sized one

  • Salt and Pepper to season

  • Thyme

  • Olive Oil

Other filling ingredients:

  • 2 ½ oz / 71 g Grated Cheese (we used Mozzarella)

  • 1 ½ oz / 43 g Macaroni - use a type already shaped as small rings if you can

  • Salt and Pepper to season

  • ¼ pint / 142 ml Cream (we used single cream)

To serve with:



Cook the meat and onion

1. Heat your oven to 180°C / 356°F / Gas Mark 4. Slice the onion and put it into a baking dish. Place the pieces of meat on top of it and season. We drizzled ours with a few tablespoonfuls of olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper and topped with fresh thyme from the garden. Roast for as long as your butcher has instructed. Ours cooked in 30 minutes.

2. Allow the meat to cool down, and when it is cold enough to handle, remove the meat from the bone and put the cooked onion with it. If making the tomato sauce, keep the parts of the carcass as these can be boiled to make a stock to use in it. Cut the meat and onion into dice and set aside.

Note: This may be done the evening before and kept in the fridge, ready to use the next day.

Make a short crust pastry

3. Mix the flour and salt and rub in the fats until they come together like breadcrumbs. Adding a little water at a time, mix to a stiff consistency until it comes together as pastry. Cut off a third and roll out the rest. We rolled ours out to about ⅛ inch in thickness. Lay it into a cake tin to line the base and sides. Patch up where necessary.

Note: We used a 6 inch round cake tin.

To make the pie

4. Cook the macaroni in boiling water per the instructions on the packet. If using long macaroni, such as the elbow type, chop this into smaller rings once it's cooked. Then, add this to the meat and onion mixture along with the cheese, cream and a little salt and pepper. Mix this all together and pack into the pie case.

5. Roll out the final third of the pastry. Wet around the edges of the case and place this on top, pressing the two together around the rim. Trim the edges and crimp down with the back of a fork to seal. Cut a hole in the middle of the top to let the air escape as it bakes, and, if you like, brush the top with egg. We also rolled out the pastry scraps and cut these into shapes to decorate the top with (after all, there's no sense in letting them go to waste!)

6. Bake in a hot oven (190°C / 170°F / Gas Mark 5) and bake for 30-40 minutes. We left ours in for 35 minutes.

7. Turn out onto a plate and garnish with fresh parsley. To serve, pour a little tomato sauce around it with the rest in a sauce boat.


Original Recipe for 'Roman Pie'

BOOK 6: Manual of Modern Cookery, 7th Edition (1943) Author: Jessie Lindsay & V.H. Mottram Publisher: University of London Press Ltd. (War-Time Address: St. Hugh's School, Bickley, Kent, England, U.K.)

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