Thursday, March 30, 2017

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - For to make Blawnche Perrye - Creamed Leeks with Rice

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - For to make Blawnche Perrye - Creamed Leeks with Rice


Just like venyson is served with furmenty we are instructed 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  to serve eels (or in this case any fatty firm textured fish) with blawnche perrye.  Eels are very difficult and prohibitively expensive to find in my area so I substituted another fatty firm textured fish, perch for the eel. According to the Cook's Thesaurus, a better substitute for the eel that was called for in this recipe would have been monkfish or mullet.

What we do know is that the variety of fish and shellfish that were eaten in the middle ages was wide ranging.  Many of the fishes that our ancestors ate are still enjoyed today. A very brief list of the kinds of fishes that were eaten includes; herring, salmon, eel, whiting, cod, pike, turbot, skate, perch, tench, carp, shad, roach, trout, porpoise and whale.  Oysters, cockles, shrimps, crabs, mussels and welks were also enjoyed.

This recipe specifically called for powdered, or salted, eel.  There are two specific methods which were used for preserving food in salt. One method is dry-salting, where meat or fish are buried in salt.  The salt preserves the fish by extracting water and creating an environment where bacteria cannot grow.  The other methods of using salt as a preservative are through a process of brining and pickling. Brining and pickling use the anti-bacterial properties of salt to prevent the growth of bacteria that would spoil food. Brining is defined as soaking food in a mixture salted water in order to preserve or season. Fish, meat, vegetables, fruit and cheese can all be brined. Pickling combines a salt with an acid to create an environment that is too acidic for bacteria to grow in. Foods that have been dry salted, brined, or pickled have an extended shelf life. Salting was the main method of food preservation up till about the 1700's.

Gelatin, jelling, or aspic, is another method that was used to preserve food. It is one that we do not often think about because of our easy access to refrigeration. However, very early it was discovered that stock made from animal bones, created a broth that gelled at a low room temperature.  For example, pigs feet or eels.  This gelatin acts as a preservative by preventing oxygen from reaching the food, thus preventing the growth of bacteria that would otherwise spoil the food. Food protected in this fashion can be stored for months at a time.  Le Viandier de Taillevent (~1375) gives a very detailed set of instructions on how to cook fish in jelly.  Another name for these kinds of dishes is aspic. This method of food preservation fell out of favor during the 1950's.

Other methods of food preservation that were used in period include smoking, sugaring and drying.  Drying is the oldest food preservation method.  Vegetables, meat and fruit were left to dry in the sun or through a low fire.  The use of a sugar as a preservative works similarly to the use of salt.  Sugar draws moisture from the cells, killing bacteria that would cause spoilage.  Food can be preserved in syrup, dried or jellied.  There are two types of smoking which can be done to preserve food.  Smoking in and of itself does not penetrate food, essentially acting only on the surface so it is often combined with another method to preserve, for example drying or salt curing.  Chemicals found in the smoke act as a preservative while heat kills bacteria found on the skin.

.xlv.--For to make Blawnche Perrye.—Take þe Whyte of the lekys, an seþe hem in a potte, an presse hem vp, & hacke hem smal on a bord. An nym gode Almaunde Mylke, an a lytil of Rys, an do alle þes to-gederys, an seþe an stere it wyl, an do þer-to Sugre or hony, an dresse it yn; þanne take powderd Elys, an seþe hem in fayre Water, and broyle hem, an kytte hem in long pecys. And ley .ij. or .iij. in a dysshe, and putte þin*. [Thine.] perrey in a-noþer dysshe, [leaf 12 bk.] an serue þe to dysshys to-gederys as Venysoun with Furmenty.

Daniel Meyers offers this interpretation on his excellent website Medieval Cookery: 

xlv - For to make Blawnche Perrye. Take the Whyte of the lekys, an sethe hem in a potte, an presse hem vp, and hacke hem smal on a bord. An nym gode Almaunde Mylke, an a lytil of Rys, an do alle thes to-gederys, an sethe an stere it wyl, an do ther-to Sugre or hony, an dresse it yn; thanne take powderd Elys, an sethe hem in fayre Water, and broyle hem, an kytte hem in long pecys. And ley .ij. or .iij. in a dysshe, and putte thin (Note: Thine.) perrey in a-nother dysshe, an serue the to dysshys to-gederys as Venysoun with Furmenty.

45 For to Make Blawnche Perrye - take the white of the leeks, and cook them in a pot, and press them up, and hack them small on a board.  And take good almond milk, and a little of rice, and do all these together, and cook and stir it well, and do there-to sugar or honey, and dress it in; then take salted eels, and cook them in fair water, and broil them, and cut them in long pieces. And lay two or three in a dish, and put your perrey in another dish, and serve the two dishes together as venison with furmenty.

Interpreted Recipe                                                                                               Serves 2 as Main, 3-4 as a side

2 Leeks cleaned and cut into slices
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup cooked rice
1 tbsp. honey
2-3 pieces of fish

Leeks are a very dirty vegetable so make sure that you clean them well.  Nothing ruins a good dish like sandy food :-( Once the leeks have been cleaned and cut into slices cover them with water and bring them to a boil.  Boil for five minutes and then drain.  Add the cooked leeks to the almond milk along with the rice and honey and cook until it thickens.  Meanwhile cook your fish.  I simply roasted the perch in the oven with just a little bit of salt, a sprinkle of coriander and vinegar.  The recipe that I used, Aliter ius in pisce elixo, can be found in a previous post, SCA Feast - Ceilidh XVI March 29th 2003.  It is a recipe from Apicius, and while not strictly Anglo-Saxon, after quite a bit of research fell into the category of "peri-oid".  I urge you to try it, it was well received at the event it was cooked at.

The taste testers and I decided I hadn't cooked enough of this dish--it was that good, and I will be making blawnche perrye much more often in the future.  It would also make a very good soup if allowed to remain saucier.  This was very easy to make.  I very much enjoyed the mild flavor of the leeks after they had been boiled and I highly recommend that you do not skip this step.  This is another recipe that has fallen into the "must be served at feast" category.  It would also make a very nice lunch recipe as well.  I imagine that you would be able to cook this in a slow cooker after boiling and draining the leeks.


Similar Recipes

Ein Buch von guter spise (Germany, ca. 1345 - Alia Atlas, trans.)

64. Ein mus mit lauche (A puree with leeks). Ain mus mit lauche. Take wizzen lauch und hacke in cleine und mengez wol mit guter mandel milich und mit rise mele und daz siude wol und versaltz niht.

A puree with leeks. Take white leek and cut small and mix well with good almond milk and with rice meal and boil that well and do not oversalt.


Blaunche porre. Take the clene white of lekes wel wasshed, and sethe hom; and when thai byn sothen, draw oute the grene pith, that is within, and then preffe oute the water, and hak hom smal, and bray hom; and in the brayinge alay hit with thik almonde mylk; and then sethe hit, and cast therto sugre, and make hit sumqwat rennynge (rather thin) ; and when hit is sothen and dressed up in dilfches, then cast suger above, and serve hit forthe.


Blaunche pore. Take thyke melke of almondys do yt in a potte perboyle the whyte of lekys tendour presse out the watyre hew hem smalle grynd hem temper hem with the same mylke do to gedyr with sygure and salt boyle hit up yf thu wilte thu mayste alay with payndemayn othir with cromys of white brede draw hem with the same mylke and serve hit forth with salte ele yf thu have hit.

Libre del Coch (Spain, 1520 - Robin Carroll-Mann, trans.)

105. LEEK POTTAGE. You must take leeks, well-peeled, and washed and cleaned the night before, set them to soak in an earthen bowl filled with water, in the night air; and let them be this way all night until the morning; and then give them a boil, moderately, because they are very difficult to cook; and when they are well-boiled, press them a great deal between two chopping blocks, and gently fry them with the fat of good bacon; and do not cast salt upon them; and when they are well gently fried, set them to cook in a little good broth which is fatty; and then take almond milk and cast it in the pot and cook it until it is quite thick; and when it is thick, taste it for salt, and if it lacks salt cast it in; and then prepare dishes, and [cast] upon them sugar and cinnamon.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .Liiij. Rapeye. - Date and Apple Pudding

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) -  .Liiij. Rapeye. - Date and Apple Pudding


This is the third of the "rapeye" recipes located 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 and it is my favorite.  The first recipe I interpreted, Rapeye of Fleysshe, created a kind of sauce or pork, broth, eggs and honey.  It was not pleasant to look at, but the taste more than made up for that.  The second recipe for rapeye, I interpreted made a sauce or candy of figs and raisins, studded with pine nuts and currants.  This is the third (and the favorite) recipe, the end results of which is a pudding of dates, apples and almond milk.  Even my taste testers who insisted they did not like dates enjoyed this.

The word "Rapeye" means sauce and it has been theorized that the origins of the word is old French word "rapé" which could mean to grate, or rasp according to Randle Cotgrave's "A French and English Dictionary" published in 1673. The sauce was traditionally served with roasted meats or fish, than later encased in dough.

.Liiij. Rapeye.—Take almaundys, an draw a gode mylke þer-of, and take Datys an mynce hem smal, an put þer-on y-now; take Raw Appelys, an pare hem and stampe hem, an drawe hem vppe with wyne, or with draf of Almaundys, or boþe; þan caste pouder of Gyngere, Canel, Maces, Clowes, & caste þer-on Sugre y-now; þan take a quantyte of flowre of Rys, an þrowe þer-on, & make it chargeaunt, an coloure it wyth Safroun, an with Saunderys, an serue forth; an strawe Canel a-boue.

Daniel Myers offers this interpreteation on his website Medieval Cookery:

Liiij - Rapeye. Take almaundys, an draw a gode mylke ther-of, and take Datys an mynce hem smal, an put ther-on y-now; take Raw Appelys, an pare hem and stampe hem, an drawe hem vppe with wyne, or with draf of Almaundys, or bothe; than caste pouder of Gyngere, Canel, Maces, Clowes, and caste ther-on Sugre y-now; than take a quantyte of flowre of Rys, an throwe ther-on, and make it chargeaunt, an coloure it wyth Safroun, an with Saunderys, an serue forth; an strawe Canel a-boue.

54. Rapeye - Take almonds, and draw a good milk there-of, and take dates and mince them small, and put there-on enough; take raw apples, and pare them and grind them, and draw them up with wine, or with draft of almonds, or both; than caste powder of ginger, cinnamon, maces, cloves and caste there-on sugar enough; then take a quantity of flour of rice; and throw there-on, and make it thick, and color it with saffron, and with sandalwood, and serve forth; and strew cinnamon above.

Interpreted Recipe                                                                               Serves 1 as main, 2 as side

1 cup almond milk
8 dates minced
2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped small
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. each cinnamon, mace and cloves
1-2 tbsp. or to taste sugar
2-3 tbsp. rice flour
Pinch of saffron and sandalwood
Garnish with cinnamon

I simmered the dates and apples in the almond milk until the apples started to break apart.  I used a potato masher to further mash the apples because I wanted a little more texture in the final product.  Return the sauce to the pot and add the spices and sugar.  When the mixture begins to boil, add your rice flour and turn down the heat.  You can add the saffron and sandalwood if you wish to at this time. When the rice flour has cooked, garnish with cinnamon and serve.

I allowed this to cool to room temperature and it was delicious! I hope to make it again and cool it overnight and see if it improves with age. I imagine it could also be made in a slow cooker.  This would make a good breakfast dish at a camping event, and I would not hesitate to serve it at a lunch tavern or even at a feast.

Similar Recipes

Forme of Cury (England, 1390)

Rape. XX.IIII. III. Take half fyges and half raisouns pike hem and waisshe hem in water skalde hem in wyne. bray hem in a morter, and drawe hem thurgh a straynour. cast hem in a pot and þerwiþ powdour of peper and ooþer good powdours. alay it up with flour of Rys. and colour it with saundres. salt it. & messe it forth.


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

For to make a rape. Take raysyns of corauns þerto, And wyte wynne þou take also. Sethe þenne oþer raysyns grete In rede wyne, and boyle a lytul with hete. Do opon a broche, rost hom bydene A lytel, and take hom fayre and clene And bray hom in a morter smalle, A crust of brede þou bray with alle. Put alle in þe pot with grythe, Þo raysyns of corauns, þo swete wyne with, A lytul vengur, and pouder take þo Of clowes, maces and quibibis to. Boyle alle to geder, and serve hit þenne, And sett hit forthe before goode men.

A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)

To mak rape, tak raissins of corans and other raissins and sethe them with wyne and boile them a litille then rost them on a spit and tak it of and bray it in a mortair with crustes of bred and put them in a possuet put ther to raissins swet wyne venygar poudur of peppur clowes maces pynesquibibes and boile them and serue them.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

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.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .Liij. Rapeye. Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .Liij. Rapeye Fig and Raisin Paste with Pine Nuts and Currants

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .Liij. Rapeye - fig and raisin paste with pine nuts and currants


Last year I published my interpretation of Cvj. Rapeye of Fleysshe which was a very interesting dish that created a kind of meat "sauce" made from pork, egg yolks, honey and spices. It was good to eat but not pleasant to look at. At the time I had made note of two futher recipes for "rapeye" made with fruit.  Here is my interpretation 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 of one of the two fruit sauces.

This is the first recipe that I have come across in my meanderings across this manuscript which specifically calls for "flour of Amidons" to be used as a means of thickening agent. What is Amidon?  Amidon (amydone, amidum, amylum, amydon, amidon, amelunck, amydon, amidum) is starch extracted from wheat which has been soaked for several days in water.  During the soaking process the water is changed out several times. After the soaking period is up, the wheat is pounded into a meal and then allowed to dry in the sun.  The instructions for this method of making wheat starch can also be found in the Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books (England, 1430) as part of the section for Laud MS. 553 (BODLEIAN LIBRARY).

For to make amydon. Nym whete at midsomer / and salt, and do it in a faire vessel / do water therto, that thy whete be yheled / let it stonde ix days and ix ny3t, and eueryeday whess wel thy whete / and at ye ix days ende bray hit wel in a morter / and drie hit to3enst ye sonne / do it in a faire vessel / and kouere hit fort, thou wil it note.
Interpretation: For to make amydon. Take wheat at midsummer/ and salt, and do it in a fair vessel / do water thereto, that the wheat be well covered / let it stand 9 days and 9 nights, and everyday, wash well the wheat / and at the nine days end grind it well in a mortar / and dry it  against the sun / do it in a fair vessel / and cover it forth, you will it not.


.Liij. Rapeye.—Take half Fygys & halfe Roysonys, and boyle hem in Wyne; þan bray hem in a morter, an draw wyth the same lycoure þorw a straynoure so þikke þat it be stondynge; þanne take Roysons of Corauns, Pynys, Clowys, Maces, Sugre of Siprys, an caste þer-to: þan putte it on a potte; þan take Saunderys a fewe, Pepir, Canel, an a litel Safroun; an ȝif it be noȝt stondyng, take a [supplied by ed.] lytil flowre of Amidons, an draw it þorw a straynwoure, an caste þer-to Salt, & serue forth stondyng.

Daniel Myers offers this interpreteation on his website Medieval Cookery:

Liij - Rapeye. Take half Fygys and halfe Roysonys, and boyle hem in Wyne; than bray hem in a morter, an draw wyth the same lycoure thorw a straynoure so thikke that it be stondynge; thanne take Roysons of Corauns, Pynys, Clowys, Maces, Sugre of Siprys, an caste ther-to: than putte it on a potte; than take Saunderys a fewe, Pepir, Canel, an a litel Safroun; an 3if it be no3t stondyng, take a lytil flowre of Amidons, an draw it thorw a straynwoure, an caste ther-to Salt, and serue forth stondyng.

53. Rapeye - Take figs and raisins and boil them in wine; then pound them in a mortar, and draw with the same liquor through a strainer so thick that it be standing; then take currants, pine nuts, cloves, mace, sugar, and caste there-to: then put it on a pot; then take sandalwood a few, pepper, cinnamon, and a little saffron; and if it be not standing, take a starch (flowre of Amidons - most likely wheat), and draw it through a strainer, and caste there-to salt, and serve forth standing.

Interpreted Recipe

1/2 cup dried figs, diced small
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup wine
1/4 cup currants
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 tsp. each ground clove and mace
1/2 cup sugar
pinch each of saffron and sandalwood
1/4 tsp. or more pepper and cinnamon (to taste)

This was very simple to make.  I cleaned and cut the figs into small dice, and placed them and the raisins into a sauce pan. As the figs and the raisins cooked the wine thickened into syrup.  Once the raisins had plumped up and the figs began to fall apart I put them into the blender and pureed them (thank you kitchen Gods!).  I attempted to strain through a strainer, I really, did, and all I did was end up with a mess....so this will be one of the very few times I will say...don't do it.  My guess is that our modern blender has the ability to make a much smoother paste then its medieval counterpart.  Save yourself extra dishes and just pour the sauce into the pan.  Add the spices, sugar, currants and pine nuts to the sauce and cook until it becomes thick.  I may have taken this a step too far, because I cooked it like I would any fruit paste-until the fruit remained parted in the pan.  At this point I poured it onto a sheet pan and let it sit until cool.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that I did mention to the house mates that there was an item sitting in the stove, one of them preheated the oven to 400 degree's with the rapeye in it.  This resulted in the thick sauce drying out a bit more then intended. Instead of having a spoonable treat, I have something that I can cut into squares and serve like fudge.  This is delicious!! The taste testers and I have been pecking away at it.  I highly recommend that it find its way into your bag of tricks.  I imagine it would make a terrific sauce if kept thin to go with a roast.  I know it was very good hot, and when allowed to cool to room temperature was equally delicious. If you dry it to a paste, it would make a very welcome candy.

Similar Recipes

Forme of Cury (England, 1390)

Rape. XX.IIII. III. Take half fyges and half raisouns pike hem and waisshe hem in water skalde hem in wyne. bray hem in a morter, and drawe hem thurgh a straynour. cast hem in a pot and þerwiþ powdour of peper and ooþer good powdours. alay it up with flour of Rys. and colour it with saundres. salt it. & messe it forth.


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

For to make a rape. Take raysyns of corauns þerto, And wyte wynne þou take also. Sethe þenne oþer raysyns grete In rede wyne, and boyle a lytul with hete. Do opon a broche, rost hom bydene A lytel, and take hom fayre and clene And bray hom in a morter smalle, A crust of brede þou bray with alle. Put alle in þe pot with grythe, Þo raysyns of corauns, þo swete wyne with, A lytul vengur, and pouder take þo Of clowes, maces and quibibis to. Boyle alle to geder, and serve hit þenne, And sett hit forthe before goode men.

A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)

To mak rape, tak raissins of corans and other raissins and sethe them with wyne and boile them a litille then rost them on a spit and tak it of and bray it in a mortair with crustes of bred and put them in a possuet put ther to raissins swet wyne venygar poudur of peppur clowes maces pynesquibibes and boile them and serue them.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .xviij. Pertrich stewyde. - Partridge Stewed

 Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .xviij. Pertrich stewyde. - Partridge Stewed


This is the second of two recipes I interpreted 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" Thomas Austin . My mistake was making them on the same day. Of the two, this was the least preferred and I had to agree with my taste testers. It was good, and if I had prepared it on another day would have been well received but compared to the Hen in Cyuey it was "just another dish of stewed fowl of some kind in a broth." On the plus side, made with boneless skinless chicken thighs (because boiled chicken skin is not pretty to look at), it was a very pretty dish, and not that fussy to put together.  On looks and ease of preparation alone, you should try this dish.  

I would suggest that you thicken the broth a little bit with either rice flour or bread crumbs to make it into more a thicker gravy and claim cooks prerogative. A thicker broth might have made the difference between "just another dish of stewed fowl in some kind of broth" and a knock it out of the park dish.  

The people of the medieval period enjoyed a greater variety of food then we do today.   As discussed in my previous blog post, smale byrdys y-stwyde, a wide range of domestic and wild fowl made its way into medieval dishes. 

Partridges are medium sized (10-12 ounces) game birds that were widely distributed throughout Europe, Africa and Asia.  Medieval Physicians recommended partridges as one of the healthiest of games birds, being of moderate heat and moisture and generating good blood. Consumption of partridges is at least as old as Apicius who has several recipes in his book "De Re Coquinaria". The two most common partridge species is the red-legged partridge and the gray-legged partridge.  

An interesting tidbit, the "red-legged" partridge originates in Spain, and nests in tree's. This may be the bird referenced in the popular Christmas Carol "The Twelve Day's of Christmas".  The song that we know dates back to 1909 and there is some evidence to suggest that it was of a much older origin.  The partridge may be symbolic of two becoming one, based on evidence that in the winter months, partridges tend to leave their flocks to break into monogomous pairs. However, there is also a school of thought that believes that the song may be misinterpreted from the French.  The lyrics might have originally been "a partridge, une perdrix", perdrix being French for Partridge. 

According to Greek Legend, the first partridge appears when the Goddess Athena turned Daedalus' nephew Perdix into a partridge after Daedalus' throws him in a fit of jealous rage from the Acropolis. Pliny the Elder (1st century) writes in his Natural History, Book 10, 51, "Partridges protect their nests with thorns and twigs so that they are safe from animals. After the eggs are laid the partridge moves them somewhere else, so that the laying place does not become known, and covers them with soft dust. The hens hide their eggs even from their mates, because the males break the eggs so that the females remain available to them. The cocks fight duels with each other over their desire for the hens; it is said that the loser in the fight has to submit sexually to the winner. The hens can become pregnant by merely standing facing the cock, and if they open their beak and put out their tongue at that time, they are sexually excited. Even the air blown from a cock flying overhead, or the sound of a cock crowing, is enough to cause pregnancy. If a fowler approaches the nest, the hen will lure him away by running away while pretending to be injured. If the hen has no eggs to protect, she does not run but lies on her back in a furrow and holds a clod of earth in her claws to cover herself."

.xviij. Pertrich stewyde.—Take fayre mary,*. [Marrow. No. 28, in Douce MS., has myȝty brothe. ] brothe of Beef or of Motoun, an whan it is wyl sothyn, take þe brothe owt of þe potte, an strayne it thorw a straynour, an put it on an erþen potte; þan take a gode quantyte of wyne, as þow it were half, an put þer-to; þan take þe pertryche, an stuffe hym wyth hole pepir, an merw,*. [Marrow. ] an than sewe þe ventys of þe pertriche, an take clowys an maces, & hole pepir, an caste it in-to þe potte, an let it boyle to-gederys; an whan þe pertryche is boylid y-now, take þe potte of þe fyre, an whan thou schalt serue hym forth, caste in-to þe potte powder gyngere, salt, safron, an serue forth.

xviij - Pertrich stewyde. Take fayre mary, (Note: Marrow. No. 28, in Douce MS., has my3ty brothe) brothe of Beef or of Motoun, an whan it is wyl sothyn, take the brothe owt of the potte, an strayne it thorw a straynour, an put it on an erthen potte; than take a gode quantyte of wyne, as thow it were half, an put ther-to; than take the pertryche, an stuffe hym wyth hole pepir, an merw, (Note: Marrow) an than sewe the ventys of the pertriche, an take clowys an maces, and hole pepir, an caste it in-to the potte, an let it boyle to-gederys; an whan the pertryche is boylid y-now, take the potte of the fyre, an whan thou schalt serue hym forth, caste in-to the potte powder gyngere, salt, safron, an serue forth.

18. Partridge Stewed - Take fair marrow, broth of beef or of mutton, and when it is well cooked, take the broth out of the pot, and strain it through a strainer, and put it on an earthen pot; then take a good quantity of wine, as though it were half, and put there-to; then take the partridge, and stuff him with whole pepper, and marrow, and then sew the vents of the partridge, and take cloves and maces, and whole pepper, and caste it into the pot, and let it boil together; and when the partridge is boiled enough, take the pot off the fire, and when you shall serve him forth, caste into the pot, powder ginger, salt, saffron, and serve forth.

Interpreted Recipe                                                                             Serves 1 as main, 2 as Side

1 skin on, bone in chicken thigh
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup wine
1/4 tsp. crushed pepper (because whole peppers are not pleasant to bite into)
Skewers or Twine
3-4 whole cloves
1/8 tsp. mace
1/4 tsp. whole pepper
1/4 tsp. ginger
Pinch of saffron
Salt to taste

Please note, that partridge is a very lean game bird while chicken is not.  If you are lucky enough to get partridge (which is prohibitively expensive in my area) you will want to include marrow in your recipe. I removed the skin, the excess fat and the bone from the chicken thigh, cracked the bone and placed it in the beef broth and wine and simmered it to create a fattier broth.  While the broth, wine, skin, fat and bones were cooking, I peppered the inside of the thigh. I used a mix of peppers including black pepper, cubebs and long pepper, and liberally sprinkled it on.  I then rolled the thigh up, and skewered it (you can see the "heart like" shape in the photo above).  At this point I strained the broth, and then added the thigh and broth back into the pot, added cloves and whole pepper, and cooked until the thigh was cooked through. If the broth does not cover the thigh, you will want to flip it over at some point to cook the other side.

Before serving add a pinch of saffron and ginger to the broth, cook a few more minutes to extract the color and flavor of the saffron, taste for salt (modern diners will thank you).

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 A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)

To stewe a pertuche or a wod cok and draw them and wesshe them clene and chope them with hole clowes and peper and couche them in an erthen pot put ther to dates mynced gret raisins of corans wyne and swet brothe salt it and cover the pot and set it on the fyer when it is enoughe sesson it with pouder of guinger and venygar and colour it with saffron and serue it.