Stewed Stekes of Venson or Motoun
Cut venson or moton smale lytell thynne leshys & put them in a fryyng panne with ale by wese & boyle them welle tylle they be ny tendour. Then take them & fry them in butter tylle they be tendur; than make a syryp for them. Take rede wyne, vynegyr ynouh, and butter & put them in a put them in a pote to stew tylle they be halfe consumed; and then fors them up with synamom, ginger, & suger, and coloure hit with saforne.
Bodleian Library, MS. Rawlinson D 1222, 281.
Cut venison or mutton in small little slices and put them in a frying pan with ale and boil them until they are nearly tender. Then take them and fry them in butter until they are nearly tender; then make a sauce for them. Take red wine, enough vinegar, and butter, and put them in a pot to stew until they are half evaporated; then season them with cinnamon, ginger and sugar, and colour it with saffron.
The text of this recipe can be found in Constance Hieatt’s A Gathering of Medieval English Recipes, a wonderful collection of lesser known manuscripts and recipes of medieval English cookery. She mentions that this particular recipe is recorded in a different hand to the rest of the manuscript, and appears to be a later addition (Hieatt, 2007, 90).
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.
|500g venison||350mL wheat ale or beer||100g butter (for frying)|
|250mL red wine||1/2 tsp cinnamon|
|60mL vinegar||1/2 tsp ginger|
|100g butter||40g sugar|
|1/4 tsp saffron|
- Soak the saffron in some boiling water until it turns a deep orange.
- Put the wine, vinegar, butter and saffron water into a saucepan and bring to the boil, while stirring gently. Leave the sauce to gently boil until it has reduced by half.
- Meanwhile, slice the venison into thin strips.
- Put the venison in a frypan, then add the ale or beer and bring it to the boil. Cook until the venison has changed colour, and most of the ale or beer has either evaporated off or been absorbed by the venison.
- Remove the venison from the pan and drain it, then put the butter for frying into the pan. When it has melted, return the venison to the pan.
- Stir the cinnamon, ginger and sugar into the sauce, then pour over the venison in the pan.
- Transfer the venison to a serving plate, and serve with frumenty (recipe here).
- Venison is a very lean meat, and tends to be better suited to roasting or quick frying. Stewed venison is rather unusual; however, this venison is not stewed for long, and as the alcohol is slightly acidic, it breaks down the fibres in the meat and helps to keep it tender.
- 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.
Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Hammond, Peter (1993). Food and Feast in Medieval England.
Hieatt, Constance (2007). A Gathering of Medieval English Recipes.
Hieatt, Constance, Hosington, Brenda and Butler, Sharon (1996). Pleyn Delit.
Wilson, C. Anne (1992). Food and Drink in Britain.