Mauviettes* baked in a pie

“Alouette, alouette, je te plumerai …”

During the First Empire, the term “mauviette” was used not to call someone a chicken, but to designate the field lark, and by extension any similar plump bird that might make a good meal.

While nowadays the only lark dish tends to be “pâté d'alouette”, in the 19th century cuisine involving small birds took many and varied forms.


4 larks or other small birds (plucked and without the giblets)
150 g chicken livers
4 blocks of flaky pastry
Butter, salt, pepper
Onions and shallots chopped
1 egg

Period Recipe

De-bone twelve 'mauviettes'*; take all the innards except the gizzards and chop finely. Mix this with some cooked stuffing, add a little nutmeg , salt and pepper and some fines herbes.  Put this preparation on a silver plate and cover with pieces of fat bacon; Put in a cool oven and cover with a 'four de campagne'**; when the preparation is cooked, put it in a pan; pour on two spoonfuls of 'dégraisser de velouté'*** and mix with the preparation. Stuff your 'mauviettes' with the preparation making them either into a ball or an oval.  You could, if you want, sew them so that they keep their shape. Melt a piece of butter in a pan, add the 'mauviettes' with a little salt and pepper and a little 'four spice'; they cook over a gentle flame for seven or eight minutes; when they are firm, remove and drain.  Prepare some bread buns (an inch and a half thick); cut the top off leaving a good margin; fry the buns in the remaining butter until nicely browned, then drain on a white cloth; remove the soft bread inside, and replace it with some preparation and your 'mauviette' having previously removed the cotton thread.  Leave enough space to add some sauce; fifteen minutes before serving, put your prepared bread 'pies' in a pie dish and put into the oven with the 'four de campagne' on top, although this should not be too hot. Just before serving, pour over your 'pies' a little 'sauce italienne'****. * A 'mauviette' was a lark or any similar plump bird (thrush, blackbird, partridge…)** A 'four de campagne' is a lid with a gutter in it in which you can place hot coals in order to be able to cook something both below and above (in a fire the heat comes from below).*** A 'dégraisser de velouté' (or 'velouté') is a sauce prepared in advance, used in small quantities to flavour other sauces.**** An Italian sauce made of chopped mushrooms, shallots, parsley and white wine.  André Viard, Le cuisinier impérial, Paris: Barba, 1806

Bon appetit

The stuffing

1. Heat butter in a pan, add chopped onion and shallots and brown.
2. Add the birds' livers and chicken livers and brown over a hot flame.
3. When the livers are cooked, take them off the heat and chop up, mix together with breadcrumbs and the egg. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Stuff the birds and truss.

Cooking the birds

1. Heat butter in a casserole and brown the birds. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Roll each block of flaky pastry out until it is big enough to wrap each bird up as a croustade.
3. Put all four croustades onto a baking dish and bake in a hot oven (200°C) for 30 min. If necessary add a little water during cooking to prevent the pastry drying out.

Type of Recipe