Dartmouth Pie, Devon
Dartmouth pie, from Devon in the very south of the country, has much in common with Cumbria's Hackin or Hack Pudding. Both are seemingly survivors of the medieval taste for meat and suet mixed with dried fruit, sugar and spices.
Mutton is the meat of choice for the Devon version, though pork is cited by some, just as in Cumbria the Hackin is (or perhaps was) made with mutton or beef.
In a ratio roughly 2:1:1 the minced mutton or lamb is mixed with currants and beef suet, to which a good quantity of sugar and a solid sprinkling of nutmeg or allspice is added, the whole cooked beneath a shortening rich pastry to seal in the flavours, as the Hackin is boiled in a sheep's stomach to retain its goodness.
Hackin is a rarity nowadays, but Dartmouth Pie still occasionally features on local menus in pubs and restaurants, and I have even seen it offered by a London source. There is an intriguing possible explanation for this survival. Could it be that the highly flavoured meat, with sugar acting as a partial preservative, and sealed beneath a layer of very fatty pastry, suited sailors departing from the port of Dartmouth, a sustaining dish that would keep for several days (though I wouldn't like to risk the pork option in that way), and with enough spice to mask things if the mutton did start to turn?
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