Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .Cj. Eyron en poche. - Eggs Poached

.Cj. Eyron en poche. - Eggs Poached

This is one of the first recipes that I have run across 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 that specifies to "poach" the food.  I love poached eggs and I have been holding on to this recipe as a "reward" for making a couple of dishes that I was not sure I would enjoy.  Poaching is a cooking method where moist heat is used to gently cook the food. This method of cooking food can trace it's origins back to ancient times, one of the oldest cookbooks, Apicius's "De re Coquinaria" the cook is instructed to cook several dishes in liquid.  Le viandier de Taillevent one of the earliest printed  cookery books introduced poaching to a larger audience, however, poaching became more prevalant in the 17th century.

I learned how to poach eggs from my grandmother.  She would faithfully bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a little bit of vinegar "to set the whites" to the water and then using a spoon would create a whirlpool in the pot before gently cracking the egg into it. That is the method that I used with this recipe.  For more information on how to poach an egg, click here.

The taste testers and I agreed this was a very pretty dish, savory and sweet at the same time, the poached egg floating in the middle of a thickened sauce was a playful illusion of an egg cooked over easy.  I would serve this at a luncheon with some crispy toasts to act as sops, and thin slices of ham. Yummmsss!!

Opinions varied on the dish; one taste tester declared "it wasn't for them". They liked how it looked but they would have preferred a more savory dish.  Another tester wanted it to be a lot sweeter. I was happy with the balanced taste.

.Cj. Eyron en poche.—Take Eyroun, breke hem, an sethe hem in hot Water; þan take hem Vppe as hole as þou may; þan take flowre, an melle with Mylke, & caste þer-to Sugre or Hony, & a lytel pouder Gyngere, an boyle alle y-fere, & coloure with Safroun; an ley þin Eyroun in dysshys, & caste þe Sewe a-boue, & caste on pouder y-now. Blawnche pouder ys best.

Cj - Eyron en poche. Take Eyroun, breke hem, an sethe hem in hot Water; than take hem Vppe as hole as thou may; than take flowre, an melle with Mylke, and caste ther-to Sugre or Hony, and a lytel pouder Gyngere, an boyle alle y-fere, and coloure with Safroun; an ley thin Eyroun in dysshys, and caste the Sewe a-boue, and caste on pouder y-now. Blawnche pouder ys best.

101. Eggs in Poach - take eggs, break them, and cook them in hot water; then take them up as whole as you may; then take flour and mix with milk, and caste there-to sugar or honey, and a little powder ginger, an boil all together, and color with saffron; and lay your eggs in dishes and case the sauce above, and cast on powder enough.  White powder is best. 

Interpreted Recipe                                                     1-2 eggs per person

For the Egg

1or more eggs
1 tbsp. white vinegar

For the Sauce

1 tbsp. flour
1 cup milk 
1 tsp. sugar or honey
1/8 tsp. ginger
Pinch of saffron
Salt and pepper to taste

Use your best method to poach the egg.  I use a 2 quart pan and fill the pan to about an inch from the top and bring the water to a boil. Add the vinegar and then heat to simmer.  While I wait for the water to come to a quick simmer/boil I crack the egg into a cup.  When the water comes to a boil I swirl the water around until I can see a whirlpool and then I drop the egg into the center of the whirlpool.  Turn off the heat, cover the pan and let sit for about five minutes.  DO NOT--no matter how tempted you are--peek, poke, prod, or stir the egg again. Trust me on this.

While you are waiting for the egg to complete cooking, make a slurry from the flour and milk (I usually do a 1:2 ratio of starch to liquid to begin with). Because starches, like flour, tend to clump when they come into contact with liquid, make sure that you have mixed the flour and milk until it is smooth. Add remaining ingredients to the pan and then slowly bring to a simmer. As the liquid simmers the sauce will begin to thicken.  When it has thickened to your desire (I thickened mine to a "medium" sauce consistency) remove it from the heat.  

To serve, take the egg from the poaching liquid, place it in a dish and then sauce around the egg. Finish with a pinch of white powder.  

This was good as a sweet dish, I urge you to try it. I want to experiment around with this dish.  I would like to try it with more savory flavorings, for example, mustard, cumin, or even garlic-cream sauce similar to the flavorings found in lxxxx. Hennys in Gauncelye.   

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

.lxxxviij. Pochee. Tak ayroun & breke hem in scaldyng hote water, & whanne they ben soden ynowgh, take hem up, & tak yolkes of ayroun & rawe mylke & swyng hem to gyder, & do therto poudour ginger, safroun & salt, set it over the fyre & lat it not boyle, take the ayroun y sode & cast the sewe onoward, & cet.