Mounchelet (Veal and Onion Pottage)

MOUNCHELET.
Take Veel oþer Moton and smite it to gobettes seeþ it in gode broth. cast þerto erbes yhewe [2] gode wyne. and a quantite of Oynouns mynced. Powdour fort and Safroun. and alye it with ayren and verious. but lat not seeþ after.
The Forme of Cury 18.

MOUNCHELET.
Take veal or mutton and smite it into gobbets. Seethe it in good broth. Cast thereto chopped herbs and good wine, and a quantity of minced onions, powder fort and saffron, and thicken it with eggs and verjuice. But let it not seethe after.

The text of the original recipe comes from Curye on Inglysch, edited by Constance Hieatt and Sharon Butler.

Veal was eaten most commonly in the spring, as part of the end of Lent (Wilson, 2003, 88); households with the means and inclination would slaughter at least one male calf in the spring to obtain rennet for cheese (Wilson, 2003, 151). Mutton could be obtained at any time of the year, but is quite hard to find today. If using veal, remember it is quite lean and in general will not need much cooking.

Ingredients

500g veal 250mL red wine
500mL beef stock 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 onions (around 400g) 1/4 tsp ground cloves
5 tbs minced herbs 1/4 tsp ground saffron
2 eggs 60mL verjuice

Method

  1. Shred the veal, and finely slice the onions.
  2. Put the stock, wine, meat, onions, herbs and spices into a pot and bring to the boil. Simmer until the meat is cooked.
  3. Whisk together the eggs and the verjuice. Add a ladleful of the pottage liquid to the egg mixture, and whisk in.
  4. Remove the pottage from the heat, and add the egg mixture. Stir well to completely incorporate the egg and cook it.

Notes

  • “Powder fort” is a spice mix that translates to “strong powder.” Hieatt and Butler suggest pepper and cloves (Hieatt and Butler, 1985, 208-209).
  • I used a mix of sage, oregano and thyme in the pottage. These are all herbs that can stand being cooked without losing their flavour, go well with beef and were available in period.
  • Adding a ladleful of stock to the eggs before adding the eggs to the pottage brings the temperature of the eggs up and ensures they won’t curdle when added to the pottage.
  • As the recipe specifies, DO NOT LET THE POTTAGE REBOIL AFTER THE EGGS ARE ADDED. This would cause the eggs to curdle and split rather than incorporating into the pottage broth.
  • If you are lucky enough to find mutton, it will probably need to be cooked a lot longer to make the meat tender, as mutton comes from older sheep.

Mounchelet - C14 English veal stew.

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Hieatt, Constance and Butler, Sharon (1985). Curye on Inglysch.
Wilson, C. Anne (2003). Food and Drink in Britain.

Aquapatys (Braised Garlic)

AQUAPATYS.
Pill garlec and cast it in a pot with water and oile. and seeþ it, do þerto safroun, salt, and powdour fort and dresse it forth hool.
The Forme of Cury 77.

AQUAPATYS.
Peel garlic and cast it in a pot with water and oil and seethe it, do thereto saffron, salt, and powder forte and dress it forth whole.

The text of the original recipe comes from Curye on Inglysch, edited by Constance Hieatt and Sharon Butler.

Garlic as a side dish! Foods such as garlic were regarded primarily as peasant food, however the presence of oil (presumably olive oil), saffron and the spice mixture powder fort makes this super luxurious garlic. You might be concerned about eating whole garlic, however boiling the garlic removes the enzymes that give it the sharp taste and cause the garlic breath. It becomes very soft and quite sweet.

Ingredients

2 whole garlic bulbs 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup water 1/4 tsp ground cloves
15 mL olive oil 1/4 tsp ground saffron
1/2 tsp salt

Method

  1. Break apart the garlic bulbs into individual cloves, and peel them.
  2. Put the garlic, oil and water into a pot, and bring to the boil. Cook the garlic until it is soft, around 10 minutes.
  3. Strain the garlic, arrange on a platter and sprinkle over the spices and salt.
  4. Serve warm.

Notes

  • “Powder fort” is a spice mix that translates to “strong powder.” Hieatt and Butler suggest pepper and cloves (Hieatt and Butler, 1985, 208-209).
  • To make this more luxurious, you could use chicken stock to cook the garlic. I suspect the original recipe specifies water to make this recipe suitable for fish days.

Aquapatys - C14 recipe of garlic as a vegetable

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Hieatt, Constance and Butler, Sharon (1985). Curye on Inglysch.

Iowtes of Almaund Mylke (Green Soup)

IOWTES OF ALMAUND MYLKE.
Take erbes, boile hem, hewe hem and grynde hem smale. Take almaundus iblaunchede; grynde hem and drawe hem vp with water. Set hem on the fire and seeþ the iowtes with the mylke. and cast þeron sugur & salt, & serue it forth.
The Forme of Cury 89.

Jowtes with Almond Milk.
Take herbs, boil them, hew them and grind them small. Take blanched almonds, grinde them and drawe them up with water. Set them on the fire and seethe the jowtes with the almond milk, and cast thereon sugar and salt, and serve it forth.

The text of the original recipe comes from Curye on Inglysch, edited by Constance Hieatt and Sharon Butler.

A soup like this would have been served on less formal occasions, however the almond milk gives it a touch of luxury and expense that would have put it beyond the reach of most people.

Ingredients

approx. 1kg mixed green leaves and herbs(see notes) 2 tbs sugar
300g blanched almonds 1 tsp salt
1L water

Method

  1. To make the almond milk, soak the almonds in the water for several hours.
  2. Put the almonds and water in a blender, and blend on high speed until the almonds have been reduced to meal and the water is cloudy.
  3. Strain the almond milk. You can use the left over almond meal in a pottage, or as a filling in a tart. However it will not have much flavour. Set the almond milk aside.
  4. Remove any thick or tough stalks from the leaves. Put the leaves into a pan with a small amount of water. Steam the leaves until they have wilted.
  5. Chop the leaves roughly, then add to a blender with the almond milk. Blend until the leaves and herbs are completely incorporated into the almond milk
  6. Add the blended soup to a pan and bring to the boil. Add the sugar and salt, and stir well to mix.
  7. Can be served hot, or at room temperature.

Notes

  • “Jowtes” is another word for pot herb, or herb that gets added to the pot to be eaten cooked. (Hieatt and Butler, 1985, 196).
  • Because I have a garden with many medieval plants that aren’t commonly available, I was able to use a large variety of different leaves in my green soup. I was able to use chard, sorrel, wood avens, horseradish leaf, borage, wild celery, winter savoury and wild thyme, as well as more common herbs parsley, chervil and sage. If you don’t have access to a wide range of interesting medieval leaves, I would suggest using silverbeet, beetroot leaves or turnip leaves. Or possibly even kale, but I really don’t know why you’d bother.
    Chard Sorrel Avens
    Chard (Beta vulgaris) Sorrel (Rumex acetose) Wood Avens (Geum urbanum)
    Horseradish leaf Borage Wild celery
    Horseradish leaf (Armoracia rusticana) Borage(Borago officinalis) Wild celery(Apium graveolens)
    Winter savoury Wild Thyme  
    Winter savoury(Satureja montana) Wild Thyme(Thymus serpyllum)  
  • You may think it odd to use cold water rather than hot to make the almond milk. The resulting milk has a far stronger flavour, as the flavour is not evaporated out as steam, which is what happens when you use hot water. It is far better to make your own almond milk rather than bought almond milk, as the flavour is far better. However use the blanched almonds rather than almond meal, as almond meal loses much of the essential oil when it is ground and stored, and that’s where the flavour comes from.
  • In period a mortar and pestle would have been used to reduce the jowtes to a paste so they mix with the almond milk better; this is probably why they were boiled first.

Jowtes
The soup here has a slight red tinge from the chard. Using different leaves produces different coloured soup.

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
(add to end of Book Depository link – )
Hieatt, Constance and Butler, Sharon (1985). Curye on Inglysch.

Blawmanger

Tak þe two del of rys, þe thridde pert of almoundes; | wash clene þe rys in leuk water & turne & seth hem til þey breke & lat it kele, & tak þe melk & do it to þe rys & boyle hem togedere. & do þerto whit gres & braun of hennes grounde smale, & stere it wel, & salte it & dresch it in disches.  & frye almaundes in fresch gres til þey be browne, & set hem in þe dissches, & strawe þeron sugre & serue it forth. Utilis Coquinario 28, (MS Sloane 468, in Curye on Inglysch, ed. Constance Hieatt and Sharon Butler).

Take two portions of rice, and a third part of almonds. Wash the rice in lukewarm water and cook it until (the grains) break, then let it cool. Take the milk (of the almonds) and add it to the rice, then boil them together. Add white grease and minced chicken meat, then salt it and put in dishes. Fry almonds in fresh grease until they are brown, and set them in the dishes (on the rice and chicken), then sprinkle on sugar, and serve it forth.

Blawmanger, or “white food,” was extremely popular throughout medieval Europe; the Concordance of English Recipes lists over 20 recipes from the 14th to the 15th century in England alone. It consisted of rice and ground chicken, sometimes with added pork, and there were Lenten versions with fish in place of the chicken. The dish continued to be served beyond the medieval period. Gradually, however, the meat disappeared and extra sugar was added, until the modern “blancmange” emerged. It would have been an expensive dish – rice was an imported luxury, as were almonds and sugar. The existence of Lenten versions also indicates its popularity and importance as a medieval dish.

Ingredients

200g white rice (see notes) 100g almond meal
500g cooked chicken meat (see notes) 100g flaked or whole blanched almonds
Lard or chicken fat 20g sugar

Method

  1. Rinse the rice in cool running water until it runs clear. If you catch the rinsing water in a bucket, it goes well on the garden.
  2. Cook the rice in boiling water until it is very soft and mushy. Remove from the heat, drain off any excess water, and allow to cool.
  3. While the rice is cooking, make the almond milk. Steep the almond meal in boiling water for approximately 15 minutes, stirring regularly, then pour it through a cloth lined strainer. You need about 300mL for the finished blawmanger.
  4. Mince the cooked chicken, and set aside.
  5. Add the almond milk and some of the lard or chicken fat to the rice until the rice is just moistened. Return to the heat and stir well, until the rice is completely warmed through.
  6. Add the minced chicken to the rice, and stir well. Remove from the heat – the residual heat in the rice will warm the chicken.
  7. Melt the rest of the lard or chicken fat in a pan, then add the whole or flaked almonds. Fry until they are golden.
  8. Pour the blawmanger onto a serving dish, then sprinkle the fried almonds and sugar on top before serving. It can be eaten hot or cold.

Notes

  • When making this dish, I use 500g of chicken thigh, which I poach. I then cook the rice in the poaching water to boost the chicken flavour. I prefer chicken thigh to chicken breast, as chicken breast can dry out too much, and does not mince as well.
  • Don’t try making this dish with raw chicken mince which you then cook – the mince clumps together while it is cooking and is difficult to distribute through the rice.
  • I use an electric mincer to mince the chicken. You could also use a food processor, but be careful not to process the chicken to mush. However, meat can also be finely minced with a cleaver, as demonstrated in this YouTube video.
  • I have assumed white rice is preferred in the dish, as the dish name translates to “white food.”
  • Rinsing the rice before you cook it washes excess starch from the rice, and the final result won’t be gluggy. It also tends not to stick to the pan while it is cooking.
  • I have seen other modern versions of this dish where the rice is cooked to a modern preference, that is, still slightly firm, or “al dente.” However, the recipe specifies that the rice should be cooked until the grains break, which I have interpreted as cooking the rice until it is completely soft and mushy.

Blawmanger

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Hieatt, Constance, Nutter, Terry and Holloway, Johnna. (2006). Concordance of English Recipes
Hieatt, Constance and Butler, Sharon (1985). Curye on Inglysch

A Roast Pig’s Head (named Bernàrd)

At a recent feast I ran, I decided to serve a pig’s head breathing fire as a spectacle at a feast. I had never cooked a pig’s head before; and I wasn’t sure how it would be received. However when I mentioned it to people they got very excited so I decided I had to go ahead with it.

The first issue I had was obtaining a pig’s head. They aren’t commonly asked for, after all. However the butcher I go to for events was able to source one, and didn’t give me too weird a look; it’s not the strangest thing I’ve asked him to get for me.

The word got around the event that there would be a pig’s head and a few people came to meet it, which is how the head acquired the name Bernàrd.

I’ve never cooked a pig’s head before, and in the end I decided roasting was my best option. I knew how to roast pork, and I figured a head would roast pretty much the same. But I honestly didn’t think anyone would want to eat it – I just thought people would simply look at it, enjoy it, and that would be it. So I didn’t pay too much attention to the preparation. I simply gave Bernàrd a wash and patted him dry, then rubbed him with a commercial barbeque sauce to give him some colour.

Bernard from the oven

Unfortunately the spill I had prepared to stick in his mouth and light, so he appeared to be breathing fire, became too damp and simply smouldered. So he was sent out nibbling on some parsley.

And he came back with no meat left on his bones – virtually everyone at the feast wanted to try a piece of Bernàrd, and the queue went out of the hall. There were even fights about who got the last of the cheek.

I will certainly be serving a roast pig’s head once again. However next time I will be using a more period appropriate glaze, such as a Lumbard Mustard.

If you want to cook a pig’s head, you will probably need to order one specially from the butcher (be prepared for some strange looks). Make sure you specify you want it whole, with the ears, cheeks and snout attached. They roast just like normal pork, but take longer than a boned, rolled joint, as the bone acts as a heat barrier. I would also wrap the ears and nose with foil during the cooking, because as you can see Bernàrd’s wound up getting a little too crispy.

And probably get someone else to carve, because a pig’s head ain’t the easiest thing to carve.

Bernard

Chyches (Spiced Roasted Chickpeas)

73. Chyches.
Take chiches and wrye hem in askes al nyght oþer al a day, oþer lay hem in hoot aymers. At morowe waische hem in clene water, and do hem ouere the fire with clene water. Seeþ hem vp and do þerto oyle, garlek hole, safroun, powdour fort and salt; seeþ it and messe it forth.
The Forme of Curye

Chyches. Take chickpeas and cover them in ashes all day or all night, or lay them in hot embers. The next day wash them in clean water, and do them over the fire with clean water. Boil them and and add thereto oil, whole garlic, saffron, powder forte and salt; cook it and serve it forth.

I first ate this dish at Canterbury Faire in New Zealand, where it was a dish from the redoubtable Peerless Kitchen. From memory they made several large serving trays, all of which were scraped clean by all the diners. When a dish is that delicious, you have to try and make it yourself! And it’s also fairly easy.

Ingredients

approx. 500g canned chickpeas (roughly 2 cans); OR
250g dried chickpeas 1/2 tsp black pepper
4 small garlic cloves, peeled 1/4 tsp cloves
1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil Pinch saffron threads
Pinch salt

Method

  1. If using dried chickpeas, soak for at least 12 hours in cold water, if possible changing the water after 6 hours. Then drain and simmer for at least an hour, until the chickpeas are tender.
  2. If using canned chickpeas, drain them and rinse them well.
  3. Line a baking tray with baking paper, then spread the chickpeas over the baking paper in a single layer. Bake in a 150 ° oven for approximately an hour. The chickpeas will turn golden and smell very nutty.
  4. Grind the saffron to a powder, then soak in boiling water.
  5. Grind the pepper and spices to a powder.
  6. Put the chickpeas in a pan with the oil, spices and saffron water, and cook until the garlic has softened.
  7. Add the salt, and enough water to cover the chickpeas. Bring to the water to the boil and cook until it is mostly absorbed by the chickpeas.
  8. Serve hot or cold.

Notes

  • “Powder forte” refers to a spice mix composed of powerfully flavoured spices. I have used pepper and cloves, but you could use any strong spice (except chilli, which was unknown in 14th century England.
  • I have seen other redactions where the oil and water are added together. This is suggested by the words of the original recipe, but I have found the oil doesn’t incorporate well and stays in a film on the top of the cooking water. Frying the chickpeas, garlic and spices first intensifies the flavour.

 

Chyches

Further Reading

Anonymous. Curye on Inglysch. ed. Constance B. Hieatt and Sharon Butler. London: Oxford University Press, 1985.
This is a collection of manuscripts from 14th century England, with a full glossary to aid in translation. These are the earliest manuscripts in English devoted entirely to cooking.

Blaunche porre (Leeks in Saffron)

To make blaunche porre. Tak whyte lekys & perboyle hem & hewe hem smale with oynouns. Cast it in good broth & sethe it up with smale bryddys. Coloure it with saffferoun; powdur yt with pouder douce. The Forme of Cury.2

To make golden leeks. Take the white part of leeks and par-boil them and cut them small with onions. Cast it in good broth and cook it up with small birds. Colour it with saffron, and add powder douce.

This is another good standard SCA recipe. The recipe below does not contain any “small birds;” this makes it vegetarian/vegan friendly. If you wish to add “small birds,” I would suggest adding a few chicken wings when the leeks and onions are added to the stock.

Ingredients

4 medium leeks 1 tsp saffron strands
2 brown onions ½ tsp sugar
500 ml vegetable stock ¼ tsp cinnamon

Method

  1. Soak the saffron strands in a small amount of boiling water until the water is deep gold.
  2. Slice the leeks and onions finely.
  3. Put all the ingredients in a large pot and cook gently until the onions and leeks are soft (around 8 minutes).
  4. If serving as a side dish, drain off most of the stock.

Notes

  • Powder douce is a spice mix, most likely cinnamon and sugar (Hieatt, 1985, 208).

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Further Reading

Hieatt, Constance and Butler, Sharon. Curye on Inglysch. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985.