Nov 12

 'A Feast of Ice & Fire' Beef and Bacon Pie

“Part of him wanted nothing so much as to hear Bran laugh again, to sup on one of Gage’s beef-and-bacon pies, to listen to Old Nan tell her tales of the children of the forest and Florian the Fool.” Game of Thrones

Medieval Beef-and-Bacon Pie

Serves 6-8
Prep: 15 minutes Bake: 40 minutes
Pairs well with *Salad at Castle Black, *Roman Buttered Carrots, and *dark or hoppy beer

To make Pyes. Pyes of mutton or beif must be fyne mynced & seasoned with pepper and salte and a lytel saffron to colour it, suet or marrow a good quantitie, a lytell vynegre, pruynes, great reasons, and dates, take the fattest of the broath of powdred beefe.  A Propre new booke of Cokery, 1545

This recipe comes from A Propre New Booke of Cokery, 1545. We simply swapped some thick cut bacon in for the original marrow, and let the rest of the recipe be. The sweetness of the pie comes from added fruit, which melts as it cooks, providing a satisfying counterpoint to the tart vinegar and salty bacon. Everything was naturally organic in the Middle Ages – these days you can try Helen Browning’s organic bacon. The fruit flavor fades into the background and what remains is a sweet, rich meat pie with an easy medley of flavours.


  • Pastry dough enough for 9″ pie pan, top and bottom
  • 1½ lbs. stew beef cut into small pieces
  • ½ cup Helen Browning’s organic bacon, diced or cut small
  • ½ tsp. pepper (or to taste)
  • ½ tsp. salt (or to taste)
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ⅓ cup prunes, sliced
  • ⅓ cup raisins
  • ⅓ cup dates, chopped
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2-3 Tbs. flour
  • Beaten egg for glazing

Cook the diced bacon over medium heat until the fat runs from it; drain off the fat. To the bacon pan, add the beef, spices, vinegar, and fruit. Add enough broth to thoroughly wet the mixture – the final consistency should be runny. Throw in the flour and cook on low heat until the juices form a gravy. Let cool. Line a 9-inch pie pan with pastry dough and fill with the meat mixture. Add a pastry lid, turn the edges under, pinch them closed, and brush with beaten egg. Bake at 375º F until filling is bubbling and the pastry cooked, about 40 minutes.

Helen Browning’s organic Beef-and-Bacon Pie – The Modern Twist

Serves 8
Prep: 15 minutes Lattice: 15 minutes cooking: 1-1 ½ hours
Pairs well with *Medieval Honey Biscuit, *Baked Apples, and *Mulled Wine

This modern recipe is rich and savoury, much closer to what we imagined when we read about the beef-and-bacon pies of Winterfell. For all that this is a relatively dense dish, the flavours are fairly light. The beef, bacon, onions, and herbs are all distinguishable, but don’t linger overlong on the palate. The result is a lovely meat pie that can be served hot or cold.


  • 12 strips of Helen Browning’s organic bacon
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, cut into small chunks
  • ½ medium potato, cubed
  • 1½ lbs. chuck steak or stew meat, cut small
  • 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup beef broth
  • salt and pepper
  • large pinch dried rosemary, or other savoury herbs
  • 1 recipe prepared pastry, enough for 9″ pie pan, bottom only

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Weave the bacon strips into a lattice, alternating each strip under and over the others. Make your lattice as wide as you can, reserving any extra strips of bacon. Place this woven bacon and any extra strips on baking sheet with high edges to catch the bacon grease. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the bacon is crispy. Set aside to cool.

Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and potato and cook gently until the onion is soft and golden. Toss the beef with flour until each piece is covered. Add the beef to the vegetables and stir over low heat for 5 minutes or until brown. Stir in the extra flour, and cook for 1 minute more.

Add the broth, salt, pepper and herbs; mix well and simmer for 10 minutes until a gravy has formed. Leave until cool.

Place your empty pie pan face down on top of your lattice-work bacon. Using a sharp knife, cut around the pie pan until you have a circle of lattice. Crumble the extra trimmings and any extra cooked bacon and add to the filling.

Roll out the pastry dough and line your pie pan, allowing any extra dough to drape over the edge of the pan. Pour the filling mixture into the shell. Cover with bacon lattice, pinching off any excess, then fold the extra dough over the top of the bacon. Bake at 400°F for 40 minutes.

Nov 12

 'A Feast of Ice & Fire' Mulled wine

“The Old Bear was particular about his hot spiced wine. So much cinnamon and so much nutmeg and so much honey, not a drop more. Raisins and nuts and dried berries, but no lemon, that was the rankest sort of southron heresy...” Clash of Kings

Medieval Mulled Wine

Makes about 4 glasses
Prep: 5 minutes cooking: 20 minutes minimum
Pairs well with *Beef and Bacon Pie or *Roasted Aurochs, and *Spiced Honey Biscuits

Hippocras. Take four ounces of very fine cinnamon, two ounces of fine cassia flowers, an ounce of selected Mecca ginger, an ounce of grains of paradise, and a sixth [of an ounce] of nutmeg and galingale combined. Crush them all together. Take a good half ounce of this powder and eight ounces of sugar [(which thus makes Sweet Powder)], and mix it with a quart of wine. le Viandier de Taillevent, 14th Century

The medieval recipe produces a hearty mulled wine, rich in spices. It is heavy and strong, without the sweetness of modern mulled wine. To match the Old Bear's description, we added raisins, cranberries, and almonds, creating the ideal drink if you are planning to walk The Wall at night.


  • 1 bottle of an inexpensive red wine (Cabernet Saugignon, Malbec, and Pinot Noir are all good choices)
  • 1½ Tbs. Poudre Douce 
  • Handful each of dried cranberries, raisins, and almonds

Bring the wine to a simmer. Stir in spices, and continue to simmer for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. After sitting, the spices will create a thick residue which will settle to the bottom.

Using a ladle, serve into individual mugs or other heat-safe vessels.

Southron Mulled Wine – The Modern Twist

Makes about 10 glasses
Prep: 10 minutes cooking: 45 minutes
Pairs well with *Poached Pears, *Rack of Lamb, and *Arya’s Snitched Tarts

The modern recipe comes from the chaplain’s wife at a top British university. It produces a delicious hot wine that, while spicy and rich, is medium bodied and easy to drink. The sweetness of the honey and cane sugar combines brilliantly with spice of the fresh ginger, resulting in an arresting tingle that floods the palate without compromising the other flavors.


  • 2 clementines, halved, or 1 small orange
  • 20 whole cloves
  • 2 bottles of red wine- Shiraz and Cabernet work well
  • 3 cups pulp-free orange juice (1/2 as much orange juice as wine)
  • 1 Tbs. cinnamon 
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 Tbs. nutmeg
  • 3 1" cubes of fresh ginger
  • 3 Tbs. honey
  • 4 heaping Tbs. sugar
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 shot of brandy, cognac, or Armagnac (optional, but adds a pleasant kick)

Cook's notes: Don't be afraid to meddle with the proportions to suit your taste, adjusting the amounts of honey, ginger, and fruit juice as desired. The best method for adding fresh ginger is to use a zester. Additional sugar or honey can also be added, to make the wine more drinkable for those who are not enduring freezing temperatures. The clementines make delicious boozy treats for the lucky guests still around when the wine runs out.

Stud the clementine halves with the whole cloves, inserting the stem of the clove into the rind of the oranges, leaving the buds protruding. You may need to pierce to flesh of the clementines with a small knife in order to insert the cloves. Float the clementines in the wine, rind down, so that the cloves are suspended in the wine.

Add all of the ingredients and bring the mixture to a simmer, but DO NOT BOIL. Stir often with a whisk. Simmer 5 minutes, reduce the heat such that the wine is kept just below a simmer. Heat for 45 minutes and serve with a ladle.


Nov 12

 'A Feast of Ice & Fire' Apple cakes

“Jon was breaking his fast on applecakes and blood sausage when Samwell Tarly plopped himself down on the bench. ‘I’ve been summoned to the sept,’ Sam said in an excited whisper. ‘They're passing me out of training. I'm to be made a brother with the rest of you. Can you believe it?’” Game of Thrones

Medieval Applecake Recipe

Makes 24
Prep: 20 minutes dough rising: 1½ hours frying: 30 minutes
Pairs well with *Black pudding, *Cold Milk, and *Breakfast on The Wall

The clear predecessors of the modern doughnut, the medieval applecakes are fantastic. Called krapfen in Germany, these fluffy fried morsels are filled with nutty apple goodness.

Dough Ingredients:

  • 1¼ cups warm milk
  • 2½ tsp yeast (1 packet)
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • 3-4 cups unsifted flour
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup butter
  • Oil for frying

Filling Ingredients:

  • 4 medium apples, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 4 Tbs. honey
  • 1 Tbs. powder forte
  • 1 Tbs. cinnamon
  • ½ cup chopped nuts- walnuts, pine nuts, and chestnuts are all lovely

Warm the milk slightly, and add the yeast before allowing to sit for 5 minutes. Add in the egg yolks, flour, salt, and butter. Mix thoroughly to combine into a soft dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn out this dough onto a floured countertop, and knead for several minutes, adding more flour if necessary. Allow the dough to rise under a clean dishcloth for around an hour.

In a medium saucepan, combine all the filling ingredients. Cook together over medium-low heat until the honey has been absorbed or cooked off. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.

On the floured countertop, roll out the dough to 1/4" thickness, dividing dough in half if space is limited. Using a 2" round cutter, stamp out discs of dough, reserving the scraps to roll out again.

Using a pastry brush, or your fingers, wet each of the rounds with water. On half of the dough discs, place about 1 teaspoon of the filling, then place another disc on top. Press the edges together firmly to seal, and allow to rise for around 20 minutes.

Heat 1 inch of oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Gently lower each cake into the hot oil with a slotted spoon. Fry until the dough is golden on both sides, about 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels, and sprinkle with a little powdered sugar if you like.

Modern Applecake Recipe

Makes 8 jumbo muffins
Prep: 15 minutes Baking: 30 minutes
Pairs well with *Breakfasts, *Helen Browning’s organic Speedy Sausages or Hot Dogs, and *Cold Milk

Essentially apple coffeecake muffins, the crunchiness of the crumble tops contrast with the softness of the cake itself. The apples melt as they bake, imbuing the cake with an incredible moistness and apple flavour.


  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 2-3 tart apples, peeled, cored, and diced


  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbs. cold butter
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture alternating with sour cream, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the apples. Fill cups of a greased jumbo muffin pan, filling each cup 2/3 full.

For topping, combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in the nuts; sprinkle evenly over batter-filled cups, pressing gently to mix it with the cake. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Allow to cool.

latest awards

SA Gold Award

Hot Dog and Beef Sirloin Winners

Following two years of being ‘highly commended’, our Helen Browning brand organic hot dogs, have now won ‘Gold’ in the Organic Food Awards. They are amazing, we think – what hot dogs used to be like, before they were made of pig skin and old washing up lines all pulped up together! And Helen’s Beef Sirloin, also usually on the menu here, also won ‘Gold’.


Sustainable Restaurants award

Sustainable Restaurant Association gives 
Helen Browning at The Royal Oak top score for good practice!

Out of about 450 restaurants, hotels and pubs, the SRA has awarded The Royal Oak Three Gold Stars for its sustainable practices. Our pub joins only three other establishments in the country in the top bracket of the SRA’s league table. They have commended our food sourcing, our healthy food on the plate, the way we treat food suppliers, our recycling and, last but not least, the care with which we try to look after customers and staff. You can read more here.


Food For Life logo 

Proud to be a member of the Soil Association’s catering mark supplier scheme that provides assurance to caterers on food and drink issues such as health, animal welfare and the environment.

See the Soil Association’s website for more information.