Frumenty (Wheat Porridge)

TO MAKE FRUMENTE
Tak clene whete and braye yt wel in a morter tyl þe holes gon of; and seþe it til it breste in water. Nym it vp & lat it cole. Tak good broþ & swete mylk of kyn or of almand & tempere it þerwith. Nym ȝelkes of eyren rawe & saffroun & cast þerto; salt it; lat it nauȝt boyle after þe eyren ben cast þerinne. Messe it forth with venesoun or with fat motoun fresch.
The Forme of Cury 1.

To make Frumenty
Take clean wheat and smash it well in a mortar until the hulls are gone, and boil it in water until it bursts. Take it up and let it cool. Take good broth and sweet cow or almond milk, and mix it therewith. Take yolks of eggs and saffron and cast thereto, and salt it. Do not let it boil after the eggs be cast therein. Serve it forth with venison or fat, fresh mutton.

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

Frumenty, or furmenty, was a staple of medieval kitchens. As the recipe above suggests, in England particularly it was served with venison. It does make an excellent accompaniment to any meat dish with a good sauce, as the frumenty absorbs the sauce well. It is a very filling dish, and can be made sweet with the addition of sugar and dried fruits.

Ingredients

160g (1 cup) bulgur 2 egg yolks
500mL beef, chicken or vegetable stock 1/4 tsp saffron, crushed
500mL milk or almond milk 1 tsp salt

Method

  1. Put the bulgur, stock, milk and saffron in a pot and bring to the boil.
  2. Reduce the frumenty mix to a simmer, and cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed (this will take around half an hour). Stir it occasionally to ensure it doesn’t stick.
  3. Keeping the heat very low, add the egg yolks and salt and stir well to heat through.
  4. Can be served hot, or at room temperature, as an accompaniment to a meat dish or a side dish by itself.

This recipe is very similar to the one found in Pleyn Delit (78).

Notes

  • Bulgur is made by crushing and boiling wheat grains – thereby eliminating a lot of pounding wheat in a mortar.
  • Frumenty could also be made with barley (Hieatt et al, 1996, 47).
  • The bulgur will swell to at least four times the size when cooked – remember to take this into account when menu planning.
  • The “fresh mutton” mentioned in the original recipe refers to recently butchered mutton, rather than salted, preserved mutton.
  • If your frumenty is too sloppy, you are probably using too much cooking liquid. It’s better to use slightly less and top up if in doubt.

Frumenty

Further Reading

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Hieatt, Constance and Butler, Sharon (1985). Curye on Inglysch.
Hieatt, Constance, Hosington, Brenda and Butler, Sharon (1996). Pleyn Delit.

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