How to cook an 18th Century ‘prison pie’

An 18th Century “ideal” prison recipe with ingredients that include potatoes, tripe, lung and spleen has been made at a London restaurant.

The recipe for Devonshire Pie was contained in documents in which philosopher and social reformer Jeremy Bentham described the food inmates would consume in his proposed Panopticon prison.

Chefs at the St John Smithfield restaurant, which specialises in “nose to tail eating,” offered to cook the recipe as part of a report for BBC Radio 4’s PM programme.

St John’s Fergus Henderson, a celebrated pioneer of British cooking, judged the pie a success and said he planned to add it to the menu.

The documents were transcribed by volunteers as part of University College London’s Transcribe Bentham project which aims to make the vast archive of his writings more accessible to scholars and the public. UCL’s holdings of Bentham’s work amount to roughly 30 million handwritten words.

Since this was filmed, Bentham’s prison pie has been served on the menu at St John restaurant.

Listen to the full report on BBC Radio 4’s PM on Tuesday 27 August 2013 at 1700 BST or listen again on BBC iPlayer.

Video journalist: James Wooldridge

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