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Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .xxiij. Nomblys of þe venyson.- Numbles of the Venyson

 Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .xxiij. Nomblys of þe venyson.- Numbles of the Venyson


Numbles (umbles, numlys, ombles, owmlys, humble) is an archaic cooking term that once refered to the back and loins of a deer (from lumbulus meaning the loin).  Approximately 1616 it was reffered to as "the ordinairie fee and parts of the deer given unto a keeper by a custome, who hath the skin, head, umbles, chine and shoulder". Today, numbles refers to the soft organs of an animal, specifically a deer. Numbles includes the organs generally referred to as offal--heart, liver, kidneys, sweetbread, spleen and lungs (aka as lights or pluck).

Depending on which definition you choose to use to define "numbles", this 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 could produce two completely different dishes; one based on the loin, another one based on offal.   I personally chose the more conventional meaning of numbles and made this dish using liver.  Just a fair warning, very few of the taste testers enjoy organ meats, so they tried the dish with trepidation.  I am happy to report that I just *might* have changed a few minds (and stomachs) with this interpretation.

There were no requests to make it again. However, when asked if they would eat it if served at a future event there were nods and a few caution "yes's". I have not yet received any requests to make this dish again. That being said--there were no leftovers. Personally, if I were to serve this dish again, I would do so as a side dish within a course of dishes and not as a main component of the meal.  I enjoy adventuresome eating, but that does not mean everyone else does, nor should they be forced to. 

.xxiij. Nomblys of þe venyson.—Take þe Nombles of Venysoun, an cutte hem smal whyle þey ben raw; þan take Freysshe broþe, Watere, an Wyne, of eche a quantyte, an powder Pepir an Canel, and let hem [leaf 9 bk.] boyle to-gederys tyl it be almost y-now; An þenne caste powder Gyngere, an a lytil venegre an Salt, an sesyn it vp, an þanne serue it forth in þe maner of a gode potage.

xxiij - Nomblys of the venyson. Take the Nombles of Venysoun, an cutte hem smal whyle they ben raw; than take Freysshe brothe, Watere, an Wyne, of eche a quantyte, an powder Pepir an Canel, and let hem boyle to-gederys tyl it be almost y-now; An thenne caste powder Gyngere, an a lytil venegre an Salt, an sesyn it vp, an thanne serue it forth in the maner of a gode potage.

23. Numbles of the Venison - Take the numbles of Venison, and cut them small while they be raw; then take fresh broth, water, and wine, of each a quantity, and powder pepper, and cinnamon and let them boil together till it be almost enough; And then caste powder ginger, and a little vinegar, and salt, and season it up, and then serve it forth in the manner of a good pottage. 

Interpreted Recipe                                                                                         Serves 1 as a main, 2-3 as a side

1/4 pound offal of choice (kidney, liver, heart, lungs or lights) *as an alternative* 1/4 pound of loin
1/3 cup beef broth, water and wine each
1/8 tsp. each pepper, cinnamon and ginger
1 1/2 tsp. vinegar (I used red wine)
salt and pepper to taste

Clean your offal or your loin and cut into 1" by 1" pieces (or smaller).  Bring broth, water, wine, pepper and cinnamon to a boil in your pot and add your meat.  Cook till meat is tender, taste for salt and pepper.  Approximately five minutes before serving add ginger and vinegar.  

The vinegar did a lot to cut down on the earthy taste of the liver that I used.  So do not be afraid to add a little more if you wish. This was a very unusual dish, but it was tested and enjoyed by all those who tried it.  It was very easy to put together and I would recommend it for an event of your choice.  As stated previously, not everyone is an adventuresome eater so I would serve this in a course accompanied by several other dishes. I hope you enjoy. 

Similar Recipes

Forme of Cury (England, 1390)

Newe Noumbles Of Deer. XX.II. XIIII. Take noumbles and waisshe hem clene with water and salt and perboile hem in water. take hem up an dyce hem. do with hem as with ooþer noumbles.

Fourme of Curye [Rylands MS 7] (England, 1390)

.liij. Newe nounbles of dere. Tak noumbles & waische hem clene with water & salt & perboyle hem in water, take hem up & dresse dyce hem do with hem as with other noumbles.


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