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Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) -.xv. Bowres - Braised Fowl

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) -.xv. Bowres


This recipe came as a suprise! It was delicious and I am surprised that more people have not prepared it in the past.  I found it in "Two fifteenth-century cookery-books. Harleian ms. 279 (ab. 1430), & Harl. ms. 4016 (ab. 1450), with extracts from Ashmole ms. 1429, Laud ms. 553, & Douce ms. 55" Thomas Austin. It can be intrepreted in two different ways.  I chose to use the second interpretation of this dish, duck or goose served as a soup with a broth made of ale, seasoned with sage and salt.  However it was the first interpretation that leads me to do some brief research on the use of offal in the middle ages.

Offal references those parts of an animal that are not skeletal muscle, for example, brain, heart, kidneys, livers and gizzards. It also refers to giblets, "humbles", "umbles", "numbles", and the extremities of an animal such as tails, feet, testicles, ears and tongue.  Offal is an excellent source of protein but it does not keep well. Although it is not visible, we eat a lot of offal in processed food.

One point of interest I did find was that the church in Spain did not consider offal to be meat, so it was allowed to be eaten during lent and also on other meatless days along with bacon.

.xv. Bowres.—Take Pypis, Hertys, Nerys, Myltys, an Rybbys of the Swyne; or ellys take Mawlard, or Gees, an chop hem smal, and thanne parboyle hem in fayre water; an þan take it vp, and pyke it clene in-to a fayre potte, an caste þer-to ale y-now, & sawge an salt, and þan boyle it ryȝth wel; and þanne serue it forthe for a goode potage.

xv - Bowres. Take Pypis, Hertys, Nerys, Myltys, an Rybbys of the Swyne; or ellys take Mawlard, or Gees, an chop hem smal, and thanne parboyle hem in fayre water; an than take it vp, and pyke it clene in-to a fayre potte, an caste ther-to ale y-now, and sawge an salt, and than boyle it ry3th wel; and thanne serue it forthe for a goode potage

15 Bowres - Take lungs, hearts, ears, spleen and ribs of the swine; or else take mallard or geese, and chop them small, and then parboil them in fair water; and then take it up, and pick it clean into a fair pot, and caste thereto ale enough, and sage, and salt, and then boil it right well and then serve it forth for a good pottage.

Interpreted Recipe                                                         Serves 1 as Main, 2 as side

1/4 pound fowl of your choice (duck, goose, chicken etc.)
water to cover
1 cup ale
1/2 to 1 tsp. salt or to taste
1 tsp. sage

Take your meat, in this case I used a Cornish hen, and cut it into chunks.  Cover it with water and allow it to cook until cooked completely through.  Remove it from the heat and allowing it to cool.  When cool, clean it and place it in a pot with your ale, salt and sage.  Cook till broth has reduced a little and alcohol has cooked off. 

This was a surprisingly simple to make recipe. It was quick to put together and as I've stated before delicious! I have been asked to make it again by the taste testers and that seldom happens.  Did I mention that they squabbled over who would get to eat the rest of it? It would be a very economical dish and it has an added benefit of creating a stock that can be used in another dish--do not throw the stock away!

Similar Recipes
Liber cure cocorum [Sloane MS 1986] (England, 1430)

For bours. Take porke and gese, hew hom þou schalle On gobetes, with powder of peper withalle. Hom sethe in pot þat is so clene, With oute any water, with salt, I wene. Fro Martyn messe to gode tyde evyne, Þys mete wylle serve, þou may me lene, At dyner or soper, if þat hit nede. Þou take gode ale, þat is not quede, Þer in þou boyle þo forsayde mete Þo more worship þou may gete

Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books (England, 1430)

Bourreys. Take pipes, hertes, neres, myltes, and of the rybbes of the Swyne, or elles take (if thou wilt) Mallard or Goos, and choppe hem small, And then parboile it in faire water, And take it vp, and pike it clene, And putte into a potte, And cast there-to Ale ynogh, Sauge, Salt, And lete boile right ynowe, &then serue it forth.

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