Nimm duerre Schwammen / wasch sie sauber auß etlichen Wassern / setz sie zu mit Erbeßbrueh unnd klein geschweißten Zwibeln / mach es ab mit Essig / Pfeffer / mit Saffran und Saltz / laß miteinander ein stundt oder zwo sieden/ so wirt es gut und wolgeschmack. Marx Rumpoldt, Ein new Kuchbuch CLXIIIr (1581)
Take dried mushrooms, wash then several times until they are clean and place them on the fire with pease broth and small fried onions. Season it with vinegar, pepper, saffron and salt and boil it together an hour or two. Thus it will be good and tasty.
The text and translation of the recipe can be found in Volker Bach’s excellent collection of medieval period recipes that can be cooked in a camp setting, Plain Fare, which is available for download here.
Mushrooms had a somewhat dubious reputation in medieval times. Some medical writers regarded them as dangerous and advised never to eat them (Scully, 1995, 76), and the dangers from poisoning were quite well known (Bach, 2016, 43). However, there are recipes for mushrooms in many medieval manuscripts, and they were readily available for sale throughout Europe (Scully, 1995, 13), though the varieties sold would have depended on what was available. A German selection would probably include chantrelles and morels, which are named in some recipe collections (Bach, 2016, 43).
If you check out Plain Fare on the link above, you will see Bach has interpreted this recipe as a soup (and he might well be right in that, given he is an expert on medieval German food, and a native German speaker, and I’m definitely not either). However, because this recipe uses dried mushrooms which are cooked for around “an hour or two,” I chose to interpret this as a mushroom stew. This dish was so delicious two confirmed carnivores went for second helpings over second helpings of perfectly cooked roast lamb, and might even choose it over other meat dishes. We’d love to try it as a pie filling.
|70g mixed dried mushrooms||50mL vinegar|
|1 onion||1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper|
|500mL vegetable stock||pinch saffron|
- Finely dice the onion and fry in olive oil, or some other fat such as butter or lard.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan, and stir well to combine.
- Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer.
- Cook for at least an hour; two or more is preferable. Stir occasionally, and top up the cooking liquid if needed.
- Test to see if you need salt before serving; you probably won’t need it.
- To make this up we used a mix of roughly equal parts of button mushrooms, Swiss brown mushrooms, porcini and chantrelles. The mushrooms you use will probably depend on what you can find available for sale, but you should definitely use dried mushrooms as they turbocharge the final flavour. If you have access to a dehydrator it will certainly increase the range of mushrooms you can use. Ideally, if you know what local mushrooms are edible, forage and dry your own mushrooms, as would have been done in period.
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Bach, Volker (2016). The Kitchen, Food and Cooking in Reformation Germany.
Scully, Terence, 1995. The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages