Stekys of Venson (Venison Steaks)

xxxj. To make Stekys of venson? or bef – Take Venyson or Bef, & leche & gredyl it vp broun; þen take Vynegre & a litel verious, & a lytil Wyne, & putte pouder perpir þer-on y-now, and pouder Gyngere; & atte þe dressoure straw on pouder Canelle y-now, þat þe stekys be al y-helid þer-wyth, & but a litel Sawce; & þan serue it forth. MS. Harleian 279, Leche Vyaundez, xxxi.

To make steaks of venison or beef – take venison or beef, and slice it and fry it brown; then take vinegar and a little verjuice, and a little wine, and put powdered pepper thereon enough, and powdered ginger; and at the dresser strew on powdered cinnamon enough, that the steaks be all covered therewith, and but a little sauce; and then serve it forth.

Venison was the status meat of medieval Europe. It was associated with the noble pastime of hunting; to serve venison was an indication of status, as it meant a lord had been granted exclusive rights to the hunting in a particular area (Wilson, 1973, 92). It might also be given as a gift, and to avoid waste, venison was also sold in towns for the luxury market (Hammond, 1993, 39).

Venison would have been the high point of any feast; it was traditionally served with frumenty (Hieatt et al, 1996, 47), a porridge-like dish made from grains, which would have soaked up the meat juices.

Ingredients

500g venison 40mL wine vinegar 1/4 tsp pepper
20mL verjuice 30mL wine 1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon Salt to taste

Method

  1. Separately grind or grate the spices
  2. Slice the venison into fine strips.
  3. Heat some oil or fat in a pan, and quickly fry the venison strips until they are browned. Transfer to a serving plate.
  4. Mix together the vinegar, verjuice, wine, pepper and ginger. If desired, heat the sauce briefly.
  5. Sprinkle the venison with the cinnamon, then drizzle the sauce over the top.
  6. Serve with frumenty (recipe here.

Notes

  • Venison is a very lean meat, and although there are recipes for venison pottages (stews), I find venison is better suited to quick frying recipes such as this, or roasting, where the meat can be constantly basted to keep it moist.
  • The cinnamon that is sprinkled over the steaks was the recommended accompaniment for slices of venison (Brears, 2008, 454).
  • If possible, try and get whole dried ginger that you have to grate yourself, rather than the ready powdered stuff. It smells and tastes much stronger.

Stir fried venison

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Austin, Thomas (ed.). Two Fifteenth Century Cookbooks
Brears, Peter (2008). Cooking and Dining in Medieval England.
Hammond, Peter (1993). Food and Feast in Medieval England.
Hieatt, Constance, Hosington, Brenda and Butler, Sharon (1996). Pleyn Delit.
Wilson, C. Anne (1992). Food and Drink in Britain.

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