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Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - Perys en Composte - Pears in Compote

Perys en Composte
There are several recipes in Two fifteenth-century cookery-books : Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430), & Harl. MS. 4016 (ab. 1450), with extracts from Ashmole MS. 1439, Laud MS. 553, & Douce MS. 55 Thomas Austin which feature pears that have been stewed in wine, sweetened with sugar or honey, and flavored with cinnamon and other varied spices.  

I prepared this dish for the Coronation of Cadagan and AnnMarie approximately two weeks prior to the event. I canned it and kept it in the fridge.  This is an excellent dish which can be made ahead for any event. The longer the pears are kept the deeper the color of the wine they absorb and the fuller the flavor. This is on my "make again" list and will most likely end up being a go to dish prepared when pears are in season.

.xxxv. Perys en Composte.—Take Wyne an Canel, & a gret dele of Whyte Sugre, an set it on þe fyre & hete it hote, but let it nowt boyle, an draw it þorwe a straynoure; þan take fayre Datys, an pyke owt þe stonys, an leche hem alle þinne, an caste þer-to; þanne take Wardonys, an pare hem and sethe hem an leche hem alle þinne, & caste þer-to in-to þe Syryppe: þanne take a lytil Sawnderys, and caste þer-to, an sette it on þe fyre; an ȝif þow hast charde quynce, caste þer-to in þe boyling, an loke þat it stonde wyl with Sugre, an wyl lyid wyth Canel, an caste Salt þer-to, an let it boyle; an þan caste yt on a treen vessel, & lat it kele, & serue forth.

xxxv - Perys en Composte. Take Wyne an Canel, and a gret dele of Whyte Sugre, an set it on the fyre and hete it hote, but let it nowt boyle, an draw it thorwe a straynoure; than take fayre Datys, an pyke owt the stonys, an leche hem alle thinne, an caste ther-to; thanne take Wardonys, an pare hem and sethe hem, an leche hem alle thinne, and caste ther-to in-to the Syryppe: thanne take a lytil Sawnderys, and caste ther-to, an sette it on the fyre; an 3if thow hast charde quynce, caste ther-to in the boyling, an loke that it stonde wyl with Sugre, an wyl lyid wyth Canel, an caste Salt ther-to, an let it boyle; an than caste yt on a treen vessel, and lat it kele, and serue forth [correction; sic = f].

35 - Pears in Compost. - Take wine and cinnamon, and a great deal of white sugar, and set it on the fire and heat it hot, but let it not boil, and draw it through a strainer; then take fair dates, and pick out the stones, and slice them all thin, and cast there-to; then take Wardens (pears), and pare them and boil them, and slice them all thin, and caste there-to into the syrup; then take a little sandalwood, and caste thereto, and set it on the fire, and if you have charde-quince, caste there-to in the boiling, and look that it stand well with sugar, and well-seasoned (lyid) with cinnamon, and caste salt there-to, and let it boil; and then cast it on a wooden vessel, and let it cool and serve forth.

Interpreted Recipe                                                                            Serves 1 as main, 2 as side

1 pear, peeled, cored and cut in slices
1 cup wine
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 cup sugar
2 dates cut in 8ths
Sandalwood - Optional (I didn't use)
Pinch salt

If you are choosing to use the sandalwood to color your wine, heat it and the wine together in a pot along with the cinnamon and sugar.  Do not let it boil.  Let the sandalwood steep in the wine until the desired color is reached and then strain. I used a red wine, so chose not to do this step. Meanwhile peel, core and slice your pear into 8 slices, along with your dates.  Strain the wine, and return it to the pot adding a pinch of salt, pears and dates.  Bring to a boil and cook until the pears have softened.  I returned the cinnamon stick to the pot and cooked it with the pears. 
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Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books (England, 1430)

Peris in compost. Take Wyne, canell, And a grete dele of white Sugur, And sette hit ouer the fire, And hete hit but a litull, and no3t boyle; And drawe hit thorgh a streynour; And then take faire dates, and y-take oute the stones, and leche hem in faire gobettes al thyn, and cast there-to; And then take pere Wardones, and pare hem, And seth hem, And leche hem in faire gobettes, and pike oute the core, and cast hem to the Syryppe; And take a litull Saundres, and caste there-to in the boylyng, And loke that hit stonde well, with Gynger, Sugur, And well aley hit with canell, and cast salt thereto, and lete boyle; And then caste it oute in a treyn (Note: treyne is treen, wooden) vesse [correction; sic = MS. vesselle vesselle] ll, And lete kele; And then pare clene rasinges (Note: shavings, parings) of ginger, and temper hem ij. or iij. daies, in wyne, And after, ley hem in clarefied hony colde, all a day or a night; And then take the rasons4 oute of the hony, And caste hem to theperes in composte; And then serue hit forth with sirippe, all colde, And nought hote.

Recipes from the Wagstaff Miscellany (England, 1460)

Perys in composte. Take wyn & a grete dele of canell with sygure set hit on the fyre lat hit not boylyng draw hit thorow a streynour leche datys thyn & do ther to in a panne or in a pott aley hem with chard quyns & salt loke hit be doucet & chargeaunt do hit out of that vessell in to a trene vessell & let it kele pare smal reysons take trydd gyngour paryd & temper hym ij days or iij in wyne & aftyr ward ley hym in claryfyd hony cold a day and nexte than take the reysons out of the hony & cast ther to perys in composte & serve hit forth with the syrip al cold.

A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)

To mak peres in composte tak a good quantite of canelle and sugur and set it on the fyer to boile and draw yt throughe a stren then lesk dates thyn and put them ther to in a pot and boille wardens and pair them and put them in the ceripe put ther to sanders and boile them and alay them up with chardwins and salt it and mak yt doucet and chargaunt and put it out of the vesselle in to a treene vesselle and let it boille then pare smalle raisins and tried guinger and temper it ij dais or ij nyghtes with wyne then lay it in clarified hony cold a day and nyght then tak the raisins out of the hony and cast ther to peres in composte and serue it furthe with a cold ceripe.


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