NPR logo

Episode 674: We Cooked A Peacock

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/461504972/461610543" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Episode 674: We Cooked A Peacock

Planet Money

Episode 674: We Cooked A Peacock

Episode 674: We Cooked A Peacock

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/461504972/461610543" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The Planet Money peacock pie, in all its glory. Cameron Robert/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Cameron Robert/NPR

The Planet Money peacock pie, in all its glory.

Cameron Robert/NPR

An ancient peacock pie, part of a balanced dinner. Detail from the 1618 painting The Senses of Hearing, Touch and Taste, by Jan Brueghel the Elder. Wikimedia commons hide caption

toggle caption Wikimedia commons

In the 17th century, a good spice rub was the ultimate display of wealth. Back then, people would risk their lives for a sack of cloves. Today on the show: We cook a peacock pie recipe published in 1612, in the Netherlands. We try to re-create the taste that changed the world. Also, we make claret, an after-dinner drink.

If you want to try the food and drink of seventeenth century spice barons, the recipes are below, translated from Dutch by Christianne Muusers.


Peacock Pie

A well spiced peacock. Nick Fountain/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Nick Fountain/NPR

A well spiced peacock.

Nick Fountain/NPR

Take a peacock that must be freshly killed so that he will be tender. Pluck it dry, cut off the wings, but leave on the head with the plume attached. Pull the entrails out. Then take a dry cloth and wipe it inside as well as possible, without using water. When most of the blood and blood clods have been removed, sprinkle it on the inside with some pepper, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. And to make it very tender, add some lard and some panicles of sweet fennel. Chop off the legs and stick the breast full wih cloves, the same with the thighs. Put it in pastry. First cover the pastry bottom with thin slices of lard, put the peacock on top with slices of lard over it and lots of spices, as described above. Keep the head sticking out and wrap paper around it against the heat. One can also cut off the head and, after the pie has been baked, put it on top, which is the most common nowadays.

Fine Yellow Claret

3/4 cup clear honey

Filtering (historically expensive) spices out of the wine. Nick Fountain/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Nick Fountain/NPR

Filtering (historically expensive) spices out of the wine.

Nick Fountain/NPR

1/5 cup water

16.5 grams cinnamon

10.5 grams ginger

6 grams grains of paradise

3 grams nutmeg

3 grams galangal

3 grams saffron, or less

1 gram black pepper

1 bottle (750 ml) dry white wine

Coffee filters (or fine cheese cloth or sack)

  1. Boil the honey and water.
  2. Add the ginger and 10.5 grams of cinnamon to the honey mixture.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the remaining cinnamon, grains of paradise, nutmeg, galangal, saffron, and black pepper.
  4. Add the white wine to the bowl. Mix well. It will look like mud.
  5. Mix in the spiced honey.
  6. Pour through the coffee filters (or cheese cloth or sack). Do this eight or nine times, or however many times you have patience for.


Music: Mark Alberts' "Wake Up, Make Up." Find us: Twitter/ Facebook.

We no longer support commenting on NPR.org stories, but you can find us every day on Facebook, Twitter, email, and many other platforms. Learn more or contact us.