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Harleian MS 279 Joutes (~1430) Braised Spring Greens with Bacon

Lady picking cabbages early 15th century.

The recipe for Joutes takes into account the many, many different kinds of greens that were known to be eaten in period. I have labeled this recipe as "Braised Spring Greens with Bacon" because the greens that are called for all bloom very early in spring. I imagine that while we may wrinkle our nose at similar dishes, this dish was very welcome after a long winter. I have included this recipe and its interpretation here, but I will not be cooking it until early spring. I will add an updated picture when I do. I will be including as part of my greens, my favorite weed "Dent-de-lion" aka Dandelion..

Recipe retreived 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

.iij. Joutes.—Take Borage, Vyolet, Malwys, Percely, Yong Wortys, Bete, Auence, Longebeff, wyth Orage an oþer, pyke hem clene, and caste hem on a vessel, and boyle hem a goode whyle; þan take hem and presse hem on a fayre bord, an hew hem ryght smal, an put whyte brede þer-to, an grynd wyth-al; an þan caste hem in-to a fayre potte, an gode freshe brothe y-now þer-to þorw a straynowr, & caste [supplied by ed.] þer-to .ij. or .iij. Marybonys, or ellys fayre fresche brothe of beff, and let hem sethe to-gederys a whyle:an þan caste þer-to Safron, and let hem sethe to-gederys a whyle, an þan caste þer-to safron and salt; and serue it forth in a dysshe, an bakon y-boylyd in a-noþer dysshe, as men seruyth furmenty wyth venyson

For more information on this recipe, or similar recipes, please visit "Medieval Cookery" hosted by Dan Myers by clicking the link below.

iij - Joutes. Take Borage, Vyolet, Malwys, Percely, Yong Wortys, Bete, Auence, Longebeff, wyth Orage an other, pyke hem clene, and caste hem on a vessel, and boyle hem a goode whyle; than take hem and presse hem on a fayre bord, an hew hem ryght smal, an put whyte brede ther-to, an grynd wyth-al; an than caste hem in-to a fayre potte, an gode freshe brothe y-now ther-to thorw a straynowr, and caste ther-to .ij. or .iij. Marybonys, or ellys fayre fresche brothe of beff, and let hem sethe to-gederys a whyle: an than caste ther-to Safron, and let hem sethe to-gederys a whyle, an than caste ther-to safron and salt; and serue it forth in a dysshe, anbakon y-boylyd in a-nother dysshe, as men seruyth furmenty wyth venyson.

3. Joutes -- Take Borage, Violet, Mallow, Parsley, Young Wortys, Beets, Avens, Hawkweed, with Orach and other, pick them clean, and cast them on a vessel, and boil them a good while; then take them and press them on a fair board, and hew them right small, an put white bread there-to, an grind with-all; an than caste them into a fair pot, an good fresh broth of beef, and let them seethe together a while; an than caste there-to saffron, and let them seethe together a while, an than caste there-to saffron and salt; and serve it forth in a dish, an bacon boiled in another dish, as men serve furmenty with venison.

Interpreted Recipe Serves 6-8 people as a side dish

At least 1 cup each of whatever green I can find to include violets, dandelion, parsley, beet greens -OR- if making this dish outside of springtime at least 1 to 2 pounds of mixed greens, including spinach, chard, kale, collards and or mustard greens and a handful of herbs such as parsley, thyme, leeks or marjoram (see below for the reason why I would add greens not mentioned in the recipe)

Water to boil the herbs in
1/3 cup grated breadcrumbs
1 1/2 cups fresh beef broth
Pinch of Saffron
1 tsp. salt
1/4 pound slab bacon boiled in half cup water until cooked through (approximately 10 minutes)

Optional: flowers from the greens you have used as garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When the water comes to a boil, add your greens and cook until they have wilted and become tender. This should take approximately 5 minutes. Drain your greens and set aside.

Note: The recipe says to press your greens onto a fair board and hew them small. You will want to wrap your greens in a towel and press down upon them to remove as much of the liquid as possible. You will be surprised at how much liquid these will hold. The dryer your greens are before the next step, the better.

Bring your broth to a boil and add saffron. Meanwhile, roughly chop the herbs (if you haven't already). Add the greens to your broth. Boil until very tender, approximately 15 minutes. Once the greens have reached the desired doneness add the breadcrumbs. The bread will thicken the broth. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary. Once the broth has thickened, place your greens in a dish, along with some of the broth, garnish with the bacon and flowers.

Note: As an alternative, you could fry and dice regular bacon with the leeks and add to the greens.

I find this recipe to be a surprising example of the ingenuity that was used in cooking. Essentially, find, forage, or grow whatever tasty green you can, and braise it in beef broth--enough. Add bread to thicken, saffron for color, salt for flavor, and serve with boiled bacon. This recipe makes use of "pot herbs", or, any leafy green grown for the purpose of usage in cooking. One item of note, eventually, the word "joute" would come to refer to Chard sometime around the 12th century. The "Fromond List" published approximately 1525, and originally titled "Herbys necessary for a gardyn' contains a list of Herbs for pottages. This list includes the following:

Good King Henry
Pot Marigold
Red Nettle
Christi Oculus
Milk Thistle
Wood Sorrel

If you wish to know more about the many kinds of vegetables that were enjoyed by folks in the middle ages, please see this article written by Jadwiga Zajaczkowa/Jennifer Heise: Medieval Sallets and Green Pottages

Similar recipes can be found in the following cookbooks located at the various links included in the recipe name.

Forme of Cury (England, 1390)

Eowtes Of Flessh. VI. Take Borage, cool. langdebef. persel. betes. orage. auance. violet. saueray. and fenkel. and whane þey buth sode; presse hem wel smale. cast hem in gode broth an seeþ hem. and serue hem forth.

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

For Ioutes. Take most of cole, borage, persyl, Of plumtre leves, þou take þer tyl, Redde nettel crop and malues grene, Rede brere croppes, and avans goode, A lytel nept violet by þo rode, And lest of prymrol levus þou take, Sethe hom in water for goddes sake. Þenne take hom up, presse oute þou shalle Þe water, and hakke þese erbs alle And grynd hom in a morter schene With grotene. and sethe hom thyk by dene In fresshe brothe, as I þe kenne. Take sklyset, enbawdet þenne Besyde on platere þou shalt hit lay To be cut and eten with ioutes in fay.

A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)

To mak smale joutes tak dyners and sethe them in clene water and hewe them smalle and bet them in a mortair but put out the water and tak of the stalkes then put them in a pot to swete brothe and alay the pot withe bred and sett the pot on the fyer and let it boille and salt it and serue it.


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