Friday, November 25, 2016

Harleian MS. 279 (ab. 1430) - .xvij. Garbage - Stewed Chicken Offal

Harleian ms. 279 (ab. 1430) - .xvij. Garbage - Stewed Chicken Offal
I veered a bit off course recently from the recipes that I was planning on testing, and found myself with two roasting hens and giblets. This prompted me to try a dish from from "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" by Thomas Austin. The dish is (appropriately) named garbage and it consists of those bits of the animal that most of us would not normally eat, but would end up in the garbage. I happen to like offal, the extremities and non-skeletal meat of animals, and was willing to give this recipe a try. I can say that it was not a favorite of the taste testers and they were very good sports about trying this.

As already mentioned, offal is any non-skeletal meat of an animal, this includes blood, brains, caul, ears, eyes, feet, giblets, heads, hearts, intestines, kidneys, liver, lungs, marrow, spleen, sweetbreads, tails, testicles, tongues and tripe. Offal is difficult to keep well, so it must be prepared to be eaten almost as soon as the animal has been slaughtered.

Eating offal has a very long history, but the kinds of offal that are eaten and the types of offal eaten are cultural based. Dietary law also restricts the usage of offal. We tend to be a bit squeamish about eating some parts of the animals (head, eyes, testicles and wombs or udders) because they remind us of our food sources or are too strong in taste (Kidneys, gizzards, livers).

.xvij. Garbage. — Take fayre garbagys of chykonys, as J^e lied, J^e fete, ]ie lyiierys, an ]>e gysowrys ; washe hem clene, an caste hem in a fayre potte, an caste }7er-to freysshe brothe of Beef or ellys of moton, an let it boyle ; an a-lye it wyth brecle, an ley on Pepir an Safroun, Maces, Clowys, an a lytil verious an salt, an serue forth in the maner as a Sewe.

xvij - Garbage. Take fayre garbagys of chykonys, as the hed, the fete, the lyuerys, an the gysowrys; washe hem clene, an caste hem in a fayre potte, an caste ther-to freysshe brothe of Beef or ellys of moton, an let it boyle; an a-lye it wyth brede, an ley on Pepir an Safroun, Maces, Clowys, an a lytil verious an salt, an serue forth in the maner as a Sewe.

17 - Garbage - Take fair garbage of chickens, as the head, the feet, the liver, and the gizzard; wash them clean, and caste them in a fair pot, and caste there-to fresh broth of beef or else of mutton, and let it boil; and mix it with bread, and lay on pepper and saffron, mace, cloves, and a little verjuice and salt, and serve forth in the manner as a stew.

Interpreted Recipe                                                                                Serves 1 as main, 2 as side

1/4 pound of mixed chicken parts, I used a giblets package and added additional livers (feet and heads are difficult to come by in my area)
1 c. beef broth
2 tbsp. bread crumbs
1/4 tsp. pepper
pinch of saffron
1/8 tsp. each mace and clove
1 tbsp. vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt

This was very easy to put together. I retained the giblets from two roasting chickens and then added additional livers. Be sure to clean your gizzards, removing the silverskin as it is inedible. Cook the giblets in the broth, with pepper, saffron mace and clove. While the meat is boiling you will want to soak the bread crumbs in the vinegar, it will become a kind of paste. Once the meat is cooked remove it from the broth and cut it into smaller pieces. Add the breadcrumbs soaked in vinegar a little bit at a time to the broth, and boil until it is thickened to your taste. Return the meat to the gravy, and season with the salt. Serve.

Unfortunately, I think this dish is going to be added to the "too period to serve" list. It was good, if you like to eat offal. I do, so I enjoyed it. However, several of my taste testers are not, and voiced a very loud "NO" when asked if they would try it at a feast. That being said, this could be a "found" dish that can be served at an event if you are using whole roasting chickens. There is no reason to throw out the giblet bags, serve it up like this. Adventurous feasters will try it, and you might find someone like me who enjoys offal, who will gobble up as much as they can get.

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Garbage - Dan Myers Interpretation

Enseignements qui enseingnent a apareillier toutes manieres de viandes (France, ca. 1300 - D. Myers, trans.)

To make false guernon - If you want to make false guernon take the livers and the gizzards, then chop small, grind bread and temper with broth, and put to boil, and after add beaten egg yolks and saffron, temper with wine, and then fry, and add milk, and chop meat in the crest, and put to boil, and stir all day, and then add the eggs and saffron, and mix in a bowl, and add ground cinnamon, ginger and cloves thereon.

A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)

To mak a garbage tak the heed the garbage the leuer the gessern the wings and the feet and wesche them and clene them and put them in a pot and cast ther tobrothe of beef poudere of pepper clowes maces parsly saige mynced then step bred in the sam brothe and cast it to pouder of guingere venygar saffron and saltand serue it.

Recipes from John Crophill's Commonplace Book (England, 1485)

Garbage. Tak fleysch & wasch it & do it to the fyer take percely & brek yt with thin honds & do in spices and saffron & wyn let it boyle wel non other lite but salt

Een notabel boecxken van cokeryen (Netherlands, ca. 1510 - C. van Tets, trans.)

To make a subbelet for organ meats [usually liver and stomach] of the goose or for venison or for meat of a wether. Take bread softened in the broth and ground up then passed together through a strainer and put it in the pot, then add to it wine, a little vinegar spices that belong to it and saffron with salt. Then let this all boil well together; so you shall lay it in the salted organ meats. So it is done.



Monday, November 21, 2016

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!

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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.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - Quystis Scun - Pigeons Stewed

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - Quystis Scun - Pigeons Stewed

Today I cooked a recipe from 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 by Thomas Austin for a dish of pigeons stewed in a flavorful broth of beef, wine and vinegar seasoned with ginger and pepper. Unfortunately pigeon is difficult for me to come by in this area so I had to spend some time researching substitutes for game birds.  The suggested game bird from the "The Cook's Thesaurus" was Cornish hens, which are readily available in my area, but not even remotely period.  

Wood Pigeons
This recipe most likely refers to the wood pigeon, also known as the ring dove, wood-quist or cushat. This is based on information obtained from Robert Nares "A Glossary or Collection of Words, Phrases, Names, and Allusions to   Customs, Proverbs, etc. Which Have Been Thought to Require Illustration in The Works of English Authors, Particularly Shakespeare, and his Contemporaries" which is available for free from Google Books.

Squab, the term used for young pigeons is described as tasting quite a bit like "dark meat chicken", which would be appropriate as the meat itself is a very dark.  Substituting the Cornish hen created a bit of an interesting dilemma.  The broth and wine colored the skin of the bird grey.  If I wasn't 100% convinced that the hen's I had purchased were fresh I would have been hesitant to serve them to my taste testers.  I believe that any cook would run into this same issue.  Some suggestions that were made to overcome this would be to cook the birds with the skin on and remove the skin prior to serving, or to bake the meat of your choice and serve it with a sauce made from the remaining ingredients.  You won't get the same texture but who wants to eat rubbery skin??

The Middle English Dictionary, Volume 8 by Robert E. Lewis suggests that the word "Scune" means Stew.  Unlike the word soup, whose etymology is clear, the word "stew" has a rather shady and twisted path.  The "Online Etymology Dictionary" gives the information below:

stew (n.) - c. 1300, "vessel for cooking," from stew (v.). Later "heated room," especially for bathing (late 14c.). The meaning "stewed meat with vegetables" is first recorded 1756. The obsolete slang meaning "brothel" (mid-14c., usually plural, stews) is from a parallel sense of "public bath house" (mid-14c.), carried over from Old French estuve "bath, bath house; bawdy house," reflecting the reputation of medieval bath houses.
late 14c., transitive "to bathe (a person or a body part) in a steam bath," from Old French estuver "have a hot bath, plunge into a bath; stew" (Modern French étuver), of uncertain origin. Common Romanic (cognates: Spanish estufar, Italian stufare), possibly from Vulgar Latin *extufare "evaporate," from ex- "out" + *tufus "vapor, steam," from Greek typhos "smoke." Compare Old English stuf-bæþ "hot-air bath;" see stove. 
Intransitive use from 1590s. Meaning "to boil slowly, to cook meat by simmering it in liquid" is attested from early 15c. The meaning "to be left to the consequences of one's actions" is from 1650s, especially in figurative expression to stew in one's own juices. Related: Stewed; stewing. Slang stewed "drunk" first attested 1737.
.xiiij. Quystis Scune.—Take a pece of beef or of mutoun, and wyne and fayre water, and caste in-to a potte, an late hem boyle, an skeme it wyl an clene; þan take quystes, an stoppe hem wyth-in wyth hole pepyr, and marwe, an þan caste hem in-to þe potte, an ceuere wyl þe potte, an let hem stere ryȝth wyl to-gederys; an þan take powder gyngere, and a lytel verious an salt, and caste þer-to, an þanne serue hem forth in a fayre dysshe, a quyste or to in a dysshe, in þe maner of a potage: an whan þowe shalt serue hem forth, take a lytil of þe broth, an put on dysshe wyth quystys, an serue forth.

xiiij - Quystis Scune. Take a pece of beef or of mutoun, and wyne and fayre water, and caste in-to a potte, an late hem boyle, an skeme it wyl an clene; than take quystes, an stoppe hem wyth-in wyth hole pepyr, and marwe, an than caste hem in-to the potte, an ceuere wyl the potte, an let hem stere ry3th wyl to-gederys; an than take powder gyngere, and a lytel verious an salt, and caste ther-to, an thanne serue hem forth in a fayre dysshe, a quyste or to in a dysshe, in the maner of a potage: an whan thowe shalt serue hem forth, take a lytil of the broth, an put on dysshe wyth quystys, an serue forth.

14. Pigeon Stewed - Take a piece of beef or of mutton, and wine and fair water, and caste into a pot, an let them boil, and skim it well and clean; then take pigeons, and stop them within with whole pepper, and marrow, and then cast them into the pot, an cover well the pot, and let them stir right well together; an then take powder ginger, and a little verjuice and salt, and cast thereto, and then serve them forth in a fair dish, a pigeon or two in a dish, in the manner of a potage: an when you shall serve them forth, take a little of the broth, and put on dish with pigeons, and serve forth.

Interpreted Recipe                                                                              Serves 2 as a main

2 c. beef broth
3/4 c. red wine
1 Cornish hen, cut in half
1 tbsp. whole black peppercorns
1/2 tsp. ginger
1 tbsp. vinegar
1/2 tsp. or to taste salt

Put all ingredients into a pot and bring it to a boil.  Cook till the hen is tender and then serve.

As recipes go, this couldn't be simpler.  I do plan on serving this at an event in the future.  The taste testers enjoyed it, even though it very much resembled what it was, boiled Cornish game hen ("tastes just like chicken") in a very flavorful broth.  You could thicken the broth using one of the period thickeners (bread, eggs or rice flour), and serve this with furmenty.

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Quystes. Take a pese of befe or of motyn wyn & watyr boyle hit skeme hit clene than take quystes chop hem with yn with hole pepyr & cast hem in to the pott & let hem stew ryght well to gedyr & take poudyr of gynger & a lytyll vergeys & salt & cast ther to do hem in fayre dischys a quyst or ij in a disch for a maner of potage and when thu shalt serve hit forth take a lytyll broth & put hit in dischys to the quystys.

A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)

To mak quystis tak a pece of beef or of moton and wyne and water and boile it and scem it clene then stop the quistes within with whole peppur and cast them in a pot and cover it and let it stewe welle put ther to poudur of guinger watire and salt and cast ther to and put them in faire disches one or ij in a dische for a maner of potage and when they be serued furthe tak alitill brothe and put in the disches among the quystis and serue it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .l. A potage on fysshday - Sweet Curds and Whey

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .l. A potage on fysshday 
I came across an unusual recipe from 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 called "A potage on fysshday".  I confess I was hesitant to try this dish because I was uncertain of what the final results would be.  I asked two chef friends of mine what they thought it should be like.  There was a general agreement that the acidic qualities of the ale and the wine would make this a kind of cheese, so all that remained was to try it.  I should know by now not to doubt those long ago chef's, as the final results were good. 

I would not recommend this dish for any large gathering of people but it would be a very cool and period thing to perhaps enter into an SCA competition, or to serve with a gathering of close friends, or even a small luncheon.  The result was a sweet broth made from the wine and the whey, with the curds of cheese (in my case similar to small curd cottage cheese) floating in the broth. Originally, I tried to serve this dryer rather than wetter, and in the humble opinions of all of the taste testers this really needs the broth, the wetter the better!

Possets were very popular dishes to eat, and I can understand why.  Without a way to refrigerate milk, you needed to change it in some way that would extend its life.  I was unable to locate directions on how to make a medieval posset.  I did find instructions from Sir Kenelm Digby.

"A Plain Ordinary Posset: Put a pint of good Milk to boil; as soon as it doth so, take it from the fire, to let the great heat of it cool a little; for doing so, the curd will be the tenderer, and the whole of a more uniform consistence. When it is prettily cooled, pour it into your pot, wherein is about two spoonfuls of Sack and four of Ale, with sufficient Sugar dissolved in them. So let it stand a while near the fire, till you eat it." -- from "The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelm Digby, Knight, Opened" (ca 1669)"

One of my chef friends was able to point me to two recipes from the mid 1800's for possets.  This has very little variation from Digby's recipe. I have to confess, there were a lot of remarks about "Little Miss Muffet" and how I had just created medieval curds and whey. That is exactly what this dish is.  The taste testers and I enjoyed it. I believe this is a dish that would do well room temperature as well as hot.  There wasn't any left over to test if it would be good cold.  I would definitely serve this as an alternate soup to vegetarians at an event provided they eat milk, when serving a meat based soup. It is thrifty and cost effective but a bit labor intensive.

.l. A potage on fysshday.—Take an Make a styf Poshote of Milke an Ale; þan take & draw þe croddys þorw a straynoure wyth whyte Swete Wyne, or ellys Rochelle Wyne, & make it sum-what rennyng an sum-what stondyng, & put Sugre a gode quantyte þer-to, or hony, but nowt to moche; þan hete it a lytil, & serue it forth al a-brode in þe dysshys; an straw on Canel, & Gyngere, and ȝif þou [supplied by ed.] haue Blank powder, straw on and kepe it as whyte as yt may be, & þan serue forth.

l - A potage on fysshday. Take an Make a styf Poshote of Milke an Ale; than take and draw the croddys thorw a straynoure wyth [correction; sic = MS. with wyth .] whyte Swete Wyne, or ellys Rochelle Wyne, and make it sum-what rennyng an sum-what stondyng, and put Sugre a gode quantyte ther-to, or hony, but nowt to moche; than hete it a lytil, and serue it forth al a-brode in the dysshys; an straw on Canel, and Gyngere, and 3if thou haue Blank powder, straw on and kepe it as [correction; sic = a] whyte as yt may be, and than serue forth [correction; sic = f].

50 A Potage on Fish Day - Take and make a stiff posset of milk and ale; then take and draw the curds through a strainer with white sweet wine, or else Rochelle wine (a favored kind of white wine in the middle ages), and make it somewhat running and somewhat standing, and put sugar, a good quantity there-to or honey, but not too much; then heat it a little and serve it forth all abroad in the dish; and strew on cinnamon and ginger, if you have white powder, strew on and keep it as white as it may be, and then serve forth.

Interpreted Recipe                                              Serves 1 as a main, 2 or more as a side

2 cups whole milk (I used Fairlife whole milk)
4 tbsp.  ale
2 tbsp. white wine
1-2 tbsp. honey or sugar or to taste

Bring the milk and the honey to a boil and remove it from the heat.  Allow to sit five minutes to cool, and add the Ale and white wine.  Return to heat and simmer for approximately ten minutes stirring constantly.  You can strain the whey from the curds if you like, otherwise add ginger, cinnamon or pouder douce to taste, and serve.