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Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - Venyson in Broth with Furmenty

Venyson in Broth with Furmenty
This post features two recipes 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. The first recipe, viij. Venyson with Furmenty, includes instructions on how to create a popular grain based dish, Furmenty and serve it with Venyson. The second recipe, .xxij Venyson in Broth, is instructions on how to prepare a pottage of venison. 

Frumenty was a hot porridge that normally accompanied a roasted meat or fish in the second course, however, I couldn't resist pairing this colorful dish, that might have been the medieval equivalent of mashed potatoes with the venison in broth.  I am glad I did! The name, frumenty comes from the latin frumentum which means "grain".

I used an ancient form of wheat called Kamut to make this dish. Kamut is a close relative of modern wheat but differs from modern wheat because the grain is about twice the size of modern wheat. Kamut is believed to be an ancient form of durum wheat which contains 30% more protein then regular wheat.  It is not as high in gluten as the wheat that is used for bread.  I can say that it makes a very creamy cereal with a nutty texture. Several frumenty recipes I found online suggested using cream of wheat cereal. I think it's a huge disservice to this dish to not use some form of cracked or whole wheat.

The history of Kamut is very interesting.  If rumor is to be believed this grain was first discovered in the tombs of Egypt, planted and then grown. It is more likely, though, that Kamut was kept alive via peasant farmers in Egypt or Asia Minor.  However the grain reemerged, a small sample of it was sold to an airman from Montana who mailed it home to his dad who planted the sample of seeds.  The man showed the seeds at county fairs and called it "King Tut's Wheat." It never really caught on, so the farmer began to feed his wheat to cattle.  It was rediscovered in 1977 by Bob Quinn, who has since started marketing it commercially.

.viij. Venyson with Furmenty.—Take whete and pyke it clene, and do it in a morter, an caste a lytel water þer-on; an stampe with a pestel tyl it hole*. [Hull, lose the husks. ]; þan fan owt þe holys,*. [Hulls; husks. ] an put it in a potte, an let sethe tyl it breke; þan set yt douun, an sone after set it ouer þe fyre, an stere it wyl; an whan þow hast sothyn it wyl, put þer-inne swete mylke, an seþe it y-fere, an stere it wyl; and whan it is y-now, coloure it wyth safron, an salt it euene, and dresse it forth, & þin venyson in a-nother dyshe with fayre hot water.

viij - Venyson with Furmenty. Take whete and pyke it clene, and do it in a morter, an caste a lytel water ther-on; an stampe with a pestel tyl it hole (Note: Hull, lose the husks); than fan owt the holys, (Note: Hulls; husks) an put it in a potte, an let sethe tyl it breke; than set yt douun, an sone after set it ouer the fyre, an stere it wyl; an whan thow hast sothyn it wyl, put ther-inne swete mylke, an sethe it y-fere, an stere it wyl; and whan it is y-now, coloure it wyth safron, an salt it euene, and dresse it forth, and thin venyson in a-nother dyshe with fayre hot water.

8. Venison with Furmenty. Take wheat and pick it clean, and do it in a morter, and caste a little water thereon; and stamp with a pestle until it be hulled; then fan out the hulls, and put it in a pot, and boil (sethe) until it break; then set it down and soon after set it over the fire, and stir it well; an when you have boiled it well, put therein sweet milk, and boil it together (y-fere) and stir it well; and when it is enough, color it with saffron, and salt it even, and dress it forth, and then venison in another dish with fair hot water. 

Interpreted Recipe                                    1 cup of dried Kamut makes enough frumenty to feed 8 people despite what the directions say!

1 cup kamut
3 cups water
Pinch of saffron
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup milk or almond milk

Following the directions I soaked the wheat overnight in water, and then drained the water from the wheat.  I then continued to follow the directions by cooking the soaked wheat in 3 cups of water with the salt and saffron, stirring constantly until the water was completely absorbed.  I added a cup of milk to the cereal and continued to cook until the milk had been absorbed and served. The directions say this will feed four people, but the single cup made a lot of frumenty and would easily feed a table of 8 at an event. 

.xxij. Venyson in Broth.—Take Rybbys of Venysoun, and wasshe hem clene in fayre water, an strayne þe same water þorw a straynoure in-to a potte, an caste þer-to Venysoun, also Percely, Sawge, powder Pepyr, Clowys, Maces, Vynegre, and a lytyl Red wyne caste þere-to; an þanne latte it boyle tyl it be y-now, & serue forth.

xxij - Venyson in Broth. Take Rybbys of Venysoun, and wasshe hem clene in fayre water, an strayne the same water thorw a straynoure in-to a potte, an caste ther-to Venysoun, also Percely, Sawge, powder Pepyr, Clowys, Maces, Vynegre, and a lytyl Red wyne caste there-to; an thanne latte it boyle tyl it be y-now, and serue forth.

22. Venison in Broth - Take ribs of venison, and wash them clean in fair water, and strain the same water through a strainer into a pot, and caste thereto venison, also parsley, sage, powder pepper, cloves, mace, vinegar, and a little red wine caste thereto; and then let it boil till it be enough, and serve forth. 

Interpreted Recipe

1/4 pound venison or beef for stew
1 cup beef broth
1 tbsp. parsley
1/2 tsp. sage
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 cloves
1/8 tsp. mace
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. red wine

Place venison in the broth, add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Cook until the venison is tender and serve. 

This is another dish that I imagine could be cooked in a slow cooker or a roaster oven similar to Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - Beef y-Stywyd. It was very flavorful and the taste testers, including the very picky teen who lives on chicken nuggets and pizza that I convinced to try it liked it- I call that a major endorsement.

Similar Recipes

Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books (England, 1430)

Furmenty with venyson. Take faire whete, and kerve it in a morter, And vanne a-wey clene the duste, and wassh it in faire watere and lete it boile till hit breke; then do awey the water clene, and caste there-to swete mylke, and sette it ouer the fire, And lete boile til it be thik ynogh, And caste there-to a goode quantite of tryed rawe yolkes of egges, and caste thereto Sapheron, sugur, and salt; but late it boile no more then, but sette it on fewe coles, lest the licoure wax colde. And then take fressh venyson, and water hit; seth hit and bawde hit; And if hit be salt, water hit, sethe hit, and leche hit as hit shall be serued forth, and put hit in a vessell with feyre water, and buille it (Note: Added from D)ayen; and as hit boyleth, blowe a-wey the grece, and serue it forth with ffurmenty, And a litul of the broth in the Dissh all hote with the flessh.
Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books (England, 1430)

Venyson in broth. Take rybbes of venyson, and wassh hem faire in Water, And streyn the Water thorgh a Streynour into a faire potte, and cast the Venyson thereto,parcely, Sauge, powder of peper, cloue3, Maces, Vinegre, salt, And late hem boile til thei be ynow, and serue it forth.

lix - Furmenty with purpaysse. Make thin Furmenty in the maner as I sayd be-fore, saue temper it vp with Almaunden, Mylke, and Sugre, and Safroun, than take thin Purpays as a Freysshe Samoun, and sethe it in fayre Water; and when he is I-sothe y-now, bawde it and leche it [correction; sic = leche it leche it] in fayre pecys, and serue wyth Furmenty in hote Water.


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