Skip to main content

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .lxxxvj. Rys - Rice

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .lxxxvj. Rys - Rice

Because of its difficulty to grow and the cost to import, rice was considered a luxury product throughout the Middle Ages. Today rice is one of the most common cereal grains in use.  This recipe found in n the 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 for medieval rice creates a sweet, creamy and delicious dish that reflects the simplicity of medieval cooking and its ability to create complex flavors with a few ingredients.

Where rice originated is hotly debated. One theory states that rice is a descendent of a wild grass which was cultivated in the Himalayas.  Another theory suggests that rice originated in India and spread to Thailand and China.  Rice spread from this region into the Middle East, where some of the oldest grains have been found in a grave dated to the first century A.D.

Alexander the Great introduced rice to Mesopotamia in the late 4th Century.  It was Alexander who is credited with introducing the Greeks to rice sometime around 320BC.  It was considered an exotic species and was used for medicine but not as a source of food.  The Romans became acquainted with this grain through the Greeks, but chose to import their rice from Syria and Egypt.  Apicius mentions that rice flour (fecula) could be used to thicken sauces.

Rice reached England in the late 13th, early 14th Century.  Records indicate that Portuguese and Spanish ships included rice as one of its imports along with figs, raisins, almonds, pepper, sugar, saffron, wax, leather and Pomegranates. There is some debate on how and when this grain was introduced to Spain.  One theory suggests that Moors invading from Africa brought rice with them in the eleventh century. Another theory suggests that rice was known in the Valencia region as early as the first century.  It is known that Portugal had established and thriving fields of rice in the twelfth century. It is believed that both France and Italy were growing rice in the thirteenth centuries.

.lxxxvj. Rys.—Take a porcyoun of Rys, & pyke hem clene, & sethe hem welle, & late hem kele; þen take gode Mylke of Almaundys & do þer-to, & seþe & stere hem wyl; & do þer-to Sugre an hony, & serue forth.

Daniel Myers offers this interpretation on his website.

lxxxvj - Rys. Take a porcyoun of Rys, and pyke hem clene, and sethe hem welle, and late hem kele; then take gode Mylke of Almaundys and do ther-to, and sethe and stere hem wyl; and do ther-to Sugre an hony, and serue forth [correction; sic = f].

Interpreted Recipe                                                                                    Serves 1 as main, 2 as side

1/2 cup rice
1 cup water
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 tsp each (or to taste) sugar and honey

What kind of rice should one use for this dish? I used a long grained white rice because it is what I had, but, if I were to cook this dish for an event I would choose a short  or medium grained rice  (Arborio or Valencia). I believe that the shorter grained rice was the one that was imported from Portugal and Spain into Europe.  Bomba Rice which is used for paella might also be a good choice. 

Follow the package directions to precook your rice.  Once the rice is cooked, allow it to cool and then add your almond milk, sugar and honey and cook until the almond milk is absorbed.  Serve--it could not be simpler.

I have in the past cheated at events by using the bagged, frozen rice, putting it into a pan, adding almond milk and popping it into the oven to thaw and heat. You can stir it occasionally while it is heating.  The almond milk absorbs and the dish tastes similar. Using long grain rice that is frozen and adding the flavors nets a similar taste but, you miss the creamy consistency. However if you are cooking for a larger crowd, purchasing the frozen rice, means not having to fret cooking in quantity for a large crowd and possibly serving undercooked rice.  

The taste testers and I "argued" over who got to eat the rest of the dish. This is definitely one of the times I wished I had made more instead of a "tasting sample. 

Similar Recipes

Le Viandier de Taillevent (France, ca. 1380 - James Prescott, trans.)

Decorated rice for a meat day. Pick over the rice, wash it very well in hot water, dry it near the fire, and cook it in simmering cow's milk. Crush some saffron (for reddening it), steep it in your milk, and add stock from the pot.

Le Menagier de Paris (France, 1393 - Janet Hinson, trans.)

RICE, Another Way. Pick it over and wash in two or three changes of hot water until the water is clear, then do as above until half cooked, then puree it and put on trenchers in dishes to drain and dry in front of the fire: then cook it thick with the fatty liquid from beef and with saffron, if this is a meat day: and if it is a fish day, do not add meat juice, but in its place add almonds well-ground and not sieved; then sweeten and do not use saffron.
 A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)

To mak ryse pik them clene and then wesshe them in two or thre waters and let the water be warm and sethe them in clene water till they begyn to boile and at the first boile put out the water and sethe them with brothe of fleshe or with the brothe of freche flesshe or of freche fisshe and put ther to sugur saffron and salt and serue it.


Popular posts from this blog

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .lxxix. Apple Muse - Apple Mousse

Fall is here and with it an abundance of apples! What better way to pick up the pen again then with this fruit?? Apples have a long and varied history. Carbon dating of seeds found in Southwestern Asia suggest that apples may have originated there. There is also evidence of fossilized apple seeds dating to the Neolithic period found in England which suggests that a variety of wild apple was known. 
Whatever the origin, we do know that the Greeks were familiar with apples.  Homer writes about them in the Odyssey.  Hippocrates recommends sweet apples with meals as a way of aiding in digestion. The Romans however, developed the fruit that we are aware of today through the process of cross breeding for sweetness and grafting.   Pliny the Elder describes multiple varieties of apples that were cultivated in Rome.

After the Roman occupation of Britain, many of the orchards were left abandoned.  It was through the efforts of monks that many of the orchards were maintained.  The earliest know…

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .xxiiij. Drawyn grwel - Tempered Gruel

Earlier this week I posted the recipe for .vij. Gruelle a-forsydde, or Gruel Reinforced, meaning that the gruel had been fortified with meat. That was the first of two recipes for gruel found 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 by Thomas Austin". This is the second that I reinterpreted. The same caveats apply, I did not go through the process of straining the dish, and the dish as I have created it is much meatier then what would probably expect in period. 
Of the two recipes that I tried this one was the favorite. The commentary from the taste testers as this was cooking was "it smells like biscuits and gravy in here!" When it came time to testing we engaged in spoon war's to eat the last of it! I have also been made to promise to make this again. I will.

The basis of any gruel is meal. In this case, that meal is specified …

Five Simple and Delicious Medieval Vegetable Dishes

Positive responses continue to pour in on these kinds of posts. Today I thought I would bring to your attention five very different vegetable dishes that were enjoyed in the late Medieval period.   I hope you try them and let me know how you liked them.

Simply click the link to be taken to the page to find the recipe. Please leave me a message and let me know if you would like to see more posts like this.

Thank you!

.xxx. Soupes dorroy. (Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430)) Soup Dorroy - A delicious twist on "creamed" onion soup. The onions when cooked with the wine take on a very fruity flavor, and the almond milk adds creaminess in the background that tempers the sweet fruity taste of the onions. A budget friendly, easy to cook, tasty dish that would not be amiss at a luncheon, tavern, feast or camp meal.

.v. Whyte wortes. (Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - Creamed Wortes - A true comfort dish from Harleian MS 279 (~1430) -- Tender cabbage and kale, or other "worts" (mustards, …

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .Clj. Creme Bastarde - Cream Bastarde

The 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 contains instructions for a custard made exclusively with egg whites.  This dish appears to have been very popular and instructions for it can also be found in the later tudor period.  As previously discussed, custards enjoy a long history. The Romans enjoyed many sweet and savory egg based dishes, but it wasn't until the middle ages that "custards", as we understand them, hit their prime.  Some of these dishes, like the hardened custards known as let lardes or milke rosty's have fallen out of favor.

I recently served this at our local Baronial 12th Night alongside stewed apples or pears (pictured above.)  I discovered that my own interpretation was nearly identical to that of Peter Breverton's found in his Tudor Cookbook. It is his interpretation I have included here which incl…