Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) -.lvj. Charlette - Pork Custard

.lvj. Charlette - Pork Custard
Todays culinary adventure 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 was a pair of related dishes consisting of meat cooked in milk.  The name itself means meat-milk --char - for flesh and lette for milk.  The first dish was a bit more favorably received then the second dish. There are recipes for dishes called "milk meats" similar to  Milke Rostys.
This might make a good breakfast dish, but it is thoroughly unappetizing to look at and I'm afraid the modern diner might have to be "talked into" giving it a try. In fact, we did place this on our list of least favorite dishes that we have tried and on the "too period for modern tastes" list.

That being said, you should try this recipe if for nothing else, the experience of putting this dish together. I'm sure additional seasonings would improve the taste, if not the look. What the dish turns out to be is a kind of "cheese" with bits of egg and meat, held together by the cheese which is created when the acid, ale, in this case comes to a boil. Be sure to chill this before attempting to slice it, otherwise it crumbles. The broth then should be piping hot when you pour it over the slices to reheat them.  

I couldn't imagine trying to create this the day of an event.  I would recommend if you are going to try this dish you create the charlette the day before the event so it has a chance to drain and cool completely. You may want to prepare extra, in case the slices fall apart.  

.lvj. Charlette.—Take Mylke, an caste on a potte, with Salt and Safroun y-now; þan hewe fayre buttys of Calf or of Porke, noȝt to fatte, alle smal, an kaste þer-to; þan take Eyroun, þe whyte an the ȝolke, & draw þorw a straynoure; an whan þe lycoure ys in boyling, caste þer-to þin Eyroun and Ale, & styre it tylle it Crodde; þan presse it a lytil with a platere, an serue forth; saue, caste þer-on broþe of Beeff or of Capoun.

lvj - Charlette. Take Mylke, an caste on a potte, with Salt and Safroun y-now; than hewe fayre buttys of Calf or of Porke, no3t to fatte, alle smal, an kaste ther-to; than take Eyroun, the whyte an the 3olke, and draw thorw a straynoure; an whan the lycoure ys in boyling, caste ther-to thin Eyroun and Ale, and styre it tylle it Crodde; than presse it a lytil with a platere, an serue forth; saue, caste ther-on brothe of Beeff or of Capoun.

56 - Charlette - Take milk and cast on a pot, with salt and saffron enough; then hew fair butts of calf or pork, not to fat, all small, and caste there-to; then take eggs, the white and the yolks and draw through a strainer: and when the liquor is boiling, caste there-to your eggs and ale, and stir it till it curd; then press it a little with a platter, and serve forth; save, caste there-on broth of beef or of capon.

Interpreted Recipe                                                          Makes approximately six 1" slices 

1 cup milk
1/4 pound pork or veal (I used ground pork)
Salt to taste
Pinch of saffron
2 eggs
2 tbsp. ale
1/4 cup chicken stock 

Simmer the meat in the milk with the salt and saffron until it has cooked through.  In the meantime, beat the eggs with the ale.  When the meat has cooked completely bring the milk to a boil and throw in the egg and ale mixture.  Stir constantly to prevent burning and sticking.  After a minute you will see the milk and eggs beginning to form curds.  Continue to stir for about five more minutes and remove from heat.  Let sit for five more minutes. 

Line a sieve with cheesecloth and pour the meat and egg mixture into it.  Fold the cheesecloth over and weight with a plate. I used a couple of 28 ounce cans to continue to press the mixture and strain out the whey, just like you would do if you were making cheese.  Remove from the sieve and place on a tray and into a fridge to allow to cool completely.  

Once the charlette is cooled completely, slice it into slices and set the slices in a bowl. I used "two" slices for a main dish, so this recipe would serve three as a main. They are very substantial.  Cover with chicken or beef stock that has been brought to a rolling boil, and serve. 

Similar Recipes

.xxxix. Charlet. Tak pork & seeth it wel, hewe hit smal, cast it in a panne, breke ayroun & do therto & swynge hit wel to geder, do therto cow mylk & safroun & boyle it to gyder, salt hit and messe hit forth.

Charlet. Take sweete cowe mylk, and put into a panne, and cast in therto zolkes of eyren and the white also, and fothen porke brayed, and sage; and let hit boyle tyl hit crudde, and colour it with saffron, and dresse hit up, and serve hit forthe.

A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)

To mak charlet tak freche porke and sethe it and swing eggs ther withe then hewe the pork smalle and boile it in swet mylk and serue it.