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.

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Apicius 8.6.10 – Parthian Lamb

hedum siue agnum Particum: mites in furnum; teres piper rutam cepam satureiam damascene enucleate laseris modicum uinum liquamen et oleum [uinum]. feruens colluitur in disco, ex aceto sumitur.
Apicius – De re coquinaria

Parthian kid or lamb:
Put it in the oven. Pound pepper, rue, onion, savory, stoned damsons, a little laser, wine, liquamen and oil. Pour lots of the boiling sauce over the meat on a serving dish. Eat it with some vinegar.

This text and translation are taken from Sally Grainger and Christopher Grocock’s Apicius (2006).

Sheep were common sacrificial animals, and were a common centrepiece for feasts. This recipe specifies lamb, which was a particularly expensive, luxurious choice, and only available in spring (Dalby, 2003, 300). The other option for the meat, kid, was also considered a delicacy, and would have been expensive, given goats were particularly prized for their milk. Slaughtering a young animal potentially meant forgoing years of production, hence the extra expense (Dalby, 2003, 160).

Ingredients

1 kg lamb roast 1 tbs costmary or feverfew 2 tbs savory 1/4 tsp asafoetida
125mL red wine 15mL fish sauce 50mL olive oil
100g stoned plums 1/2 tsp pepper 30mL wine vinegar

Method

  1. Put the lamb on a rack in a roasting tray, and rub with olive oil. Roast in a 180°C oven for approximately 40 minutes, or until the lamb reaches your preferred doneness.  Baste occasionally with the fat that is rendered from the lamb.
  2. Chop the onion and the costmary or feverfew finely. Strip the savory leaves from the stalks.
  3. Combine all the other ingredients except the vinegar in a mortar and pestle and pound to a smooth paste, or combine in a blender.
  4. Transfer the sauce to a saucepan, and bring to the boil over a gentle heat, stirring occasionally. Keep warm until the lamb is cooked, then return to the boil.
  5. Transfer the lamb to a serving dish, then pour the boiling sauce over the top.
  6. Just before serving, sprinkle the lamb and sauce with the vinegar.

Notes

  • The Parthian Empire was centred around north eastern Iran, and fought several wars with Rome before being conquered by the Persian Sassanids in 224AD. It was a major source of the spice asafoetida, which was used in place of Silphium. Dalby suggests the asafoetida was the source of the name “Parthian Lamb” (Dalby, 2003, 250).
  • Rue (Ruta graveolens) is a herb with a very bitter taste that was commonly used in Roman cooking. I have never used it in cooking, and never will, as it is mildly toxic and can give very bad blisters to people who are allergic, and can also induce abortions. I use feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) or costmary (Tanacetum balsamita, which also have quite bitter tastes, without being so dangerous. You will probably have to grow these yourself; if you can’t find them, use rocket or raddichio, though you will need more to get the same bitterness.
  • Savory (summer savory, Satureja hortensis, or winter savory, Satureja montana), as its name implies, has a powerful savory flavour. It is easy to grow and worth tracking down, but if you can’t find it, thyme is a reasonable substitute.
  • Liquamen is a fish sauce, probably thinner in texture than the better known garum. (Grainger, 2005).
  • Lasere, or silphium, was a spice that originated in north Africa and became extinct in the first century AD. After this, the Romans used asafoetida as a substitute. Asafoetida, when raw, has a powerful, unpleasant smell, and the flavour can overpower dishes. It can be found in Indian or Middle Eastern groceries, and is worth tracking down as there really is no substitute.

Parthian lamb closeup
This photo features lamb shanks. These are my go-to roasting cut, as they are easily portioned if cooking for just one or two people (an idea I have shamelessly nicked from Nigella Lawson). If using a more typical joint such as leg or shoulder, I recommend getting one already boned to make serving easier.

Further Reading

Click on the links below to order directly from The Book Depository.

Dalby, Andrew. Food in the Ancient World.
Grainger, Sally. “Towards an Authentic Roman Sauce.” 2005 Oxford Food Symposium
Grainger, Sally. Cooking Apicius.
Grocock, Christopher and Grainger, Sally. Apicius.

Spanish Balles (Lamb Meatballs)

To make Spanish balles.
Take a peece of a leg of Mutton, and pare away the skin from the flesh, chop the flesh verie small: then take marrow of beefe, and cut it as big as a hazell nut, & take as much of marrow in quantity as ye haue of flesh, and put both in a faire platter, and some salt, and eight yolks of Egs, and stirre them wel together: then take a litle earthern pot, and put in it a pint, and a halfe of beefe broth that is not salt, or els Mutton broth and make it seeth: then make balles of your stuffe, and put them in boyling broth one after another, and let them stew softly the space of two houres. Then lay them on sops three or foure in a dish, and of the vppermost of the broth vpon the sops, and make your balles as big as tennis balles.
(Good Huswife’s Handmaide for the Kitchin, 1597.)

To make Spanish Balls.
Take a piece of a leg of Mutton, and pare away the skin from the flesh, and chop the flesh finely. Then take beef marrow, and cut it as big as a hazelnut, and take as much marrow as you have mutton flesh, and put both in a platter, and some salt, and eight egg yolks, and stir them together well. Then take a little earthen pot, and it in it a pint and a half of unsalted beef broth, and put them in boiling broth one after another, and let them stew softly for two hours. Then lay them on sops three or four in a dish, and the uppermost of the broth upon the sops, and make your balls as big as tennis balls.

Ingredients

1kg lamb leg(or mutton if you can find it) 1.5 L beef stock
1kg beef bone marrow Salt to taste
8 egg yolks 6 slices of toast (optional)

Method

  1. Mince the lamb and bone marrow together.
  2. Mix the lamb and bone marrow with the eggs and salt, and make sure everything is well combined.
  3. Form the lamb mixture into balls (if catering for large numbers, ignore the “size of tennis balls” instruction).
  4. Bring the beef stock to the boil, then cook the lamb balls through. You will know they are close to done when the lamb balls rise to the surface of the stock.
  5. If desired, serve with toast, with cooking broth poured over.
  6. Serve warm.

Notes

  • This is one of a number of recipes for poached lamb meatballs described as Spanish or Portuguese (see Fartes of Portingale).
  • Bone marrow is obtained from the inside of leg bones of cows, and in my opinion is THE BEST part of the cow (I really love beef). Many butchers sell these bones cheaply for pets (lucky pets!); ask if they will saw the bones up for you, as they are quite a pain to split without power tools.

Apicius 8.6.8 – Apician Rare Lamb


hedus siue agnus crudus: oleo piper fricabis et asparges fores salum purum multo cum coriandri semen. in furnum mittis, assatum inferes.
Apicius – De re coquinaria

Rare lamb or kid
Rub with oil and pepper, and sprinkle plenty of pure salt and coriander seed all over the outside.  Put in the oven.  Serve roasted

This text and translation are taken from Sally Grainger and Christopher Grocock’s Apicius (2006).

Ingredients

1 kg boned lamb roast 20g coriander seed
75 mL extra virgin olive oil 5g pepper
Salt

Method

  1. Rub the lamb liberally with the olive oil and pepper.
  2. Crush the coriander seed and press into the lamb with the salt.
  3. Roast the lamb, and baste while roasting.

Apician_Lamb

Further Reading

Click on the links below to order directly from The Book Depository.
 
Grocock, Christopher and Grainger, Sally. Apicius. Totnes, 2006.

Farts of Portingale

How to make Farts of Portingale.
TAke a peece of a leg of Mutton, mince it smal and season it with cloues, Mace pepper and salt, and Dates minced with currans: then roll it into round rolles, and so into little balles, and so boyle them in a little beefe broth and so serue them foorth.
(Good Huswife’s Handmaide for the Kitchin, 1597.)

How to make Farts of Portingale.
Take a piece of a leg of Mutton, mince it small and season it with cloves, mace, pepper and salt, and dates minced with currants. Then roll it into little balls, boil them in a little beef broth and so serve them forth.

If you saw the title of this recipe and had a good giggle – so did I!

Ingredients

500g lamb mince ½ tsp cloves
1L beef stock ½ tsp mace
60g currants ½ tsp pepper
60g dates 1tsp salt
Optional: rind of one orange

Method

  1. Cut the dates into small pieces.
  2. Mix the lamb mince, dates, currants and spices and roll into small balls.
  3. If using, add the orange rind to the mix as well.
  4. Bring the beef stock to the boil, then cook the lamb balls through. You will know they are close to done when the lamb balls rise to the surface of the stock.
  5. Serve warm.

Notes

  • “Portingale” is another word for Portugal. This is one of a number of recipes for poached lamb meatballs described as Spanish or Portuguese (see Spanish Balles).
  • Although the original recipe does not contain orange rind, oranges are closely associated with Portugal (and Spain) and were imported from these countries.

Fartes_of_Portingale