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A Selection of Dishes from Harleian MS 279 published approximately 1430 -Capon or Goose Stuffed, Pickle for the Mallard (Onion Jam), Let lory (Fresh Cheese)

Capoun Farced, Let Lory (top right) & Pickle for the Mallard

February 20th was the date selected to have a cook's gathering in my local Barony. However, the weather and illness proved extremely uncooperative and we were unable to meet. The decision to cancel was made after I had started cooking the food I was going to bring. Pictured above are the items that would have been served at this gathering; Capoun or Gos Farced, Let Lory and Pickle for the mallard. Below are the orginal recipes as they appears here: Two Fifteenth-Century Cookbooks - Harliean MS 279, the translated recipes and the redactions need to be credited to Cindy Renfrow and her excellent book "Take a Thousand Eggs or More". If you are interested in cooking in this time period, consider investing in this book. Also, please note that I included my notes that I sent out to the other individuals who were supposed to be joining me at the gathering. All in all, I would have to say I had two extremely successful and well received dishes and one so-so dish. 

Original Recipe: XXXV. Capoun or gos farced.
— Take Percely, & Swynys grece, or Sewet of a schepe, & parboyle hem to-gederys til J^ey ben tendyr; J^an take harde plkys of Eyroun, & choppe for-w/tA ; caste ])er-to Pouder Pepir, Gyngere, Canel, Safroun, & Salt, & grapis in tyme of jere, & clowys y-nowe ; & for defawte of grapis, Oynons, fyrst wil y-boylid, & afterward alle to-choppyd, & so stufFe hym & roste hym, & serue hym forth. And jif ]70 lust, take a litil Porke y-sode, & al to-choppe hit smal a-mong )7«to|ier ; for it wol be J^e better, & namely ^ for ]>e Capoun.

Translated: 35. Capon or Goose stuffed. Take parsley & swines grease, or suet of a sheep, and parboil them together till they are tender; then take hard yolks of eggs, and chop forthwith; cast thereto powdered pepper, ginger, cinnamon, saffron & salt & grapes in time of year, and cloves enough; & for default of grapes, onions, first well boiled & afterward all chopped, & so stuff him & roast him, & serve him forth. And if thee like, take a little pork seethed, & all chop it small among that other; for it will be the better, & especially for the capon.

Interpreted Recipe

Stuffed Goose or Capon – Serves 8-10 – Basic recipe – note variations to follow

1 capon, approximately 6 pounds
1 cup chopped parsley
¼ cup water
½ cup fatty chicken broth
2 tbs. bacon fat, lard or suet
2 small onions peeled and chopped –or- ½ cup seedless grapes
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ginger
Dash of pepper
½ tsp. cinnamon powder
3 hardboiled egg yolks (or 1 hardboiled egg)

Note: The recipe calls for onions well boiled. Ms. Renfrow does not do this step in her recipe. I would strongly suggest that you boil the onions and chop finely when cooled before proceeding with the recipe.

Put parsley, water, broth and fat and onions in a pot and bring to a boil. Cook for five minutes. Remove the pot from heat. Remove the parsley and onions from the bowl and put them in a bowl. Add spices, salt and hardboiled egg to the parsley and onions and blend thoroughly. Stuff the capon with this mixture. Place the bird in a roasting pan and roast at 350 degrees for 1 ½ - 2 hours or until the juices run clear when poked with a fork. Remove the bird from the oven and place on a serving dish. Scoop out stuffing and serve separately, if desired. Serve hot.

Variation One: add saffron to the stuffing.

Variation Two: Add ¼ tsp. clove powder along with the grapes instead of onions.

Variation Three: Simmer a ½ pound of mild spiced pork sausage (or sage sausage) in ½ cup water until no pink remains. Drain sausage and add to any of the stuffing variations.

I used Variation three with a bit of modification. I used 1 small onion and 1/2 cup red grapes, along with a clove and the sausage. This was delicious. It had rave reviews from my daughter, her boyfriend and an older family friend. Even my husband who despises anything green or "weird" ate the chicken with no muss or complaints. This is definitely on my "things to cook at a future SCA Feast list."

Original Recipe: PikkyH ipotir le Mallard. ^ Take oynons, and hewe hem smaH, and fry hem in fressh grace, and caste hem into a potte, And fressh broth of beef, Wyne, & powder of poper, canel, and dropping of the mallard/ And lete hem boile togidur awhile ; And take hit fro ]>e ijre, and caste thereto mustard a litul, And ponder of ginger. And lete hit boile no more, and salt hit, And seme it forthe with j^e Mallard.

Translated: 36. Pickle for the Mallard. Take onions, and hew them small, and fry them in fresh grease, and cast them into a pot, and fresh broth of beef, wine & powder of pepper, cinnamon, and drippings of the mallard/ And let them boil together awhile; And take it from the fire, and cast thereto mustard a little, and powder of ginger, and let it boil no more, and salt it and serve it forth with the Mallard.

Interpreted Recipe

Pickle for the Mallard – Makes 2 ½ cups Serves 4 (Again, this is enough for 1 table of 8 during a feast-use your best judgment)

3 medium onions chopped
2 tbsp. oil or lard
½ cup beef broth (you should be able to sub chicken or 50/50 beef/ chicken mix)
½ cup white wine
¼ tsp. pepper
½ tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. melted duck fat (if available, otherwise you should be able to sub out for oil, chicken fat, or lard)
½ tsp. dry mustard
½ tsp. ginger
1 tsp. salt

In large skillet over medium heat, fry the onions in oil until they are transparent, add the broth, wine, pepper, cinnamon, duck fat, and let the mixture boil until the flavors are mixed, about 10 minutes. Add mustard, ginger, and salt. Stir. Reduce heat. Serve hot with duck (capon, chicken, or goose).

Another recipe that received rave reviews to my captive audience and yes, this will also appear in a future feast. I sliced the onions in half, and then sliced each half into long slivers following the "ribs" of the onion as a guideline. I cooked the onions until they were translucent and then set them aside. Later I was able to skim off some of the chicken fat and used it in place of the 2 tbsp. of melted duck fat. After the chicken was out of the oven and resting, I completed this relish. I believe this would be good with beef as well as pork.

Original Recipe: Mviij. Let lory. — Take Mylke, an sette it ouer ]>e fyre; take Salt & Safroun, an caste ]7er-to ; take yroun, ]7e pike an J^e Whyte y-strainyd a lyte,^ & caste it j^er-to ; whan ]>e Mylke his skaldyng bote, caste ]!e stuf ]7er-to, an Jienne stere yt tyll it crodde ; and jif ])o\i wolt haue it a-forsyd with lyjt coste, Take ylke, & make it skaldyng bote, & caste ]7er-to Paw pikes of Eyroun, Sugre, ponder Gyngere, Clowes, Maces, an let not fully boyle ; & so bote, drcsse it forth, an ley it on ]>e crodde ; & jif ]>o\i wolt a-forse it in maner of charlet, do it in fasty??g dayis, & serue it forth.

Translated: 58: Larded Milk: Take milk and set it over the fire; take salt and saffron and cast thereto; take eggs, the yolk and the white strained a little and cast it thereto; when the Milk is scalding hot, cast the stuff thereto, and then stir it till it curdles: and if thou will have it seasoned with little cost, take Milk and make it scalding hot, and cast thereto raw yolks of eggs, sugar, powdered ginger, cloves, maces, and let it not fully boil; & so hot dress it forth, and lay it on the curd; and if thou will season it in manner of charlet, do it in fasting days, & serve it forth. 

Note: Rather than making the cheese (first part of recipe) purchase small curd cottage cheese instead, mix it with saffron, and top it with the egg sauce.

Interpreted Recipe  Let Lory – serves 4

4 cups milk
1 tsp. salt
2 beaten eggs (remove stringy white bits)
Pinch of saffron

Bring milk, salt and saffron to a boil in a 2 quart saucepan. Add the beaten eggs and stir. Form curds by alternately heating and cooling the mixture. Stir until it starts to curdle.
Add 2 tsp. vinegar will make curds form faster.

Remove from heat when curds have formed and allow cooling completely. Place several layers of cheesecloth in a strainer and place strainer over a large bowl. Spoon the cheese mixture into the cheesecloth and allow draining until the drips start to slow down. Lift the cheesecloth bag without spilling the contents and squeeze gently until all whey has been removed.

Spoon the drained curds into a dish and top with the warm egg sauce before serving.

Egg Sauce

1 cup milk
1 tbsp. sugar
3 beaten egg yolks
½ tsp ginger (or to taste)
¼ tsp. each clove and mace

Heat milk to scalding hot and remove from heat. When cooled slightly, stir a spoonful of the milk into the beaten eggs yolks. Add the egg yolk mixture to the milk and stir. Heat gently while stirring. Add spices and stir until sauce reaches desired thickness—do not boil. Remove from the heat, spoon over the curds, and serve warm.

This is a so-so dish for a few reasons. Let's start with the positives, it is a very pretty dish to look at, pale yellow creamy curds drenched with a custard sauce. It somewhat resembles a very sweet cottage cheese and it is a very filling dish. That being said, it was not the most flavorful dish. It was bland compared to the other dishes it was served aside. Also, the really big negative for me, is that it was a very fussy dish--it needed babysat. You have to be very careful not to burn the milk, and once the curds started to form (I used the alternative and added vinegar), you need to keep a very close eye on it. I didn't, so my curds were "slightly smoky" on the back end.

Use this as a cautionary tale--if you are going to make cheese, ignore any and all distractions including messages from friends, company at the back door, and the dog's sudden need to urinate. That quickly you will go from a wonderfully delicious, decadent treat, to a mass of burnt curds. In this case, I had a very small area in the pan that was lightly browned and it ruined the whole dish.

That being said, I am not opposed to making this if I am serving a royal luncheon or a small group of people. If I were to do this at a feast, I would need an experienced cheesemaker whose entire time would be spent making this dish one batch at a time. *THAT* is why this dish is not something I could recommend for a future event. There are much more delightful things to cook that require the same degree of care and attentiveness this recipe needs.

However, I will be experimenting with this in the future, this might very well a dish that can be made a day or two ahead, and then served. If so, this will appear, quite probably as something on the table. One of my friends smeared it on his sourdough and declared it "better then butter".

#medievalfood #scafeast #scacook #historicfood #harleianMS279


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