Harleian MS. 4016, (~1450) Guisseƚƚ.

Harleian MS. 4016, (~1450) Guisseƚƚ. Bread Dumplings

Guisseƚƚ.-- An interesting dish which makes very thrify use of bread that has been turned into bread crumbs, eggs and broth flavored with parsley and sage and colored with saffron. Sounds a lot like dressing, yes? My recipe creates many small, irregularly shaped "curds", or dumplings. Bonus? The broth thickens as the bread cooks leaving you with a gravy that you can use elsewhere. I do not recommend using it with your dumplings. They become very sticky and unappetizing! The instructions can be 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. Harleian MS. 4016, ab. 1450 A.D.

The instructions are just vague enough that I wasn't very certain of what I would end up with once it had been interpreted and cooked. I was half expecting a wet mucky (and unappetizing) unbaked dressing. What I ended up with was something that closely resembled a dumpling. I wonder if it's the precursor to boiled puddings?

The process reminded me very much of making the "rivals" for potato soup with rivals. The difference being that you "pinch off" pieces of the rival dough and put it into the boiling soup, whereas here we are instructed to "cast the stuff to the broth into the pan". Rather than pinch off pieces of dough, I made the dough somewhat crumbly, and then dropped by handfuls into the boiling broth and cooked till they came to the surface. Then using a slotted spoon, I fished out the dumplings and went on to the next batch and the next...this made A LOT of dumplings. As mentioned previously, I made a slight mistake when cooking the very last batch and didn't drain them as well as I wanted to :-/ There wasn't a lot of the thickened broth left but there was enough that the entire batch became bit sticky and gummy. I thought I had ruined it--but guess what? Treating them like spaetzle, I cooked them up in some bacon fat (which makes everything better).

Harleian MS. 4016, ab. 1450 A.D. Guisseƚƚ. [supplied by ed.] *. [Taken from Douce MS. ] [folio 15.] ¶ Take faire capon̄ brotℏ, or of beef, And sette hit ouer the fire, and caste þerto myced sauge, parcelly and saffron̄, And lete boile; And streyn̄ the white and þe yolke of egges thorgℏ a streynour, and caste there-to faire grated brede, and medle hit togidre with thi honde, And caste the stuff to the brotℏ into þe pan̄; And stirre it faire and softe til hit come togidre, and crudded; And þen̄ serue it forth hote.

Guissell. (Note: Taken from Douce MS.) Take faire capon broth, or of beef, And sette hit ouer the fire, and caste therto myced sauge, parcelly and saffron, And lete boile; And streyn the white and the yolke of egges thorgh a streynour, and caste there-to faire grated brede, and medle hit togidre with thi honde, And caste the stuff to the broth into the pan; And stirre it faire and softe til hit come togidre, and crudded; And then serue it forth hote

Guissell. (Note: Taken from Douce MS.) Take faire capon broth or of beef, and set it over the fire and cast thereto minced sage, parsley and saffron, and let it boil; and strain the white and the yolk of eggs through a strainer, and cast thereto grated bread and meddle it all together with your hand, and caste the stuff to the broth into the pan; and stir it fare and soft till it come together, and curded; and then serve it forth hot.

Interpreted Recipe

2 cups bread crumbs
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs

4 cups water
1 tsp. sage
1 tbsp. parsley
Pinch of saffron

Put your breadcrumbs and salt (which was added for modern taste) into a bowl, create a well and add in your eggs one at a time until it starts to form lumps. Mean wile, heat up the water, sage, parsley and saffron till it comes to a boil and then lower the heat so that the water is simmering. Add the dough in small batches until the irregularly shaped, curded dough floats like delicious pillowy dumplings. Using a slotted spoon remove from the broth and let drain while you are cooking your next batch.

I imagine since these appear to be very similar to Spaetzle that you could, if you wish to prepare them in advance, put them on a sheet pan, freeze and then thaw and cook with a little bit of butter or bacon fat before serving, although that is cook's prerogative and has nothing to do with the original recipe.
Now I totally cheated and used leftover herb stuffing mix, so my bread crumbs taste a bit like ummmm ~whispers~ stuffing mix that has been made into crumbs in the blender (Hey! They were *on sale* and turning stuffing into crumbs requires very little effort). The dumplings were perfectly lovely until I didn't drain that last batch very well. What a happy mistake...fried up in bacon fat they are nothing short of magical.

In reality, these dumplings were very likely served *in* the broth, and not outside of it. So bear that in mind, you may need a lot more broth then I created. I am planning on serving these as a side dish with a roasted chicken, and therefore choose not to serve them in the broth at this time.

Similar Recipes

Forme of Cury (England, 1390)

Jusshell. XX.II. III. Take brede ygrated and ayrenn and swyng it togydre. do erto safroun, sawge. and salt. & cast broth. þerto. boile it & messe it forth

A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)

To mak jusselle tak the swet brothe of a capon or of other good flesshe and set it on the fyere in a large vesselle colour it with saffron put ther to saige cut gret and salt it then tak eggs and drawe them through a strener and temper grated bread and eggs and stirre it to gedure till they be ronn and let the erbes be well mellid to gedur and when yt begynnythe to boille tak out the pot stik and turn the curd about with a scorner and let not the fyere be to hasty when it is throughe knyt tak it from the fyere and couyr it and serue it

Thomas Awkbarow's Recipes (MS Harley 5401)

Jussell. Recipe brede gratyd & egges & swyng þam togydere, & do þerto sawge & saferon & salt; þan take gode broth & cast it þerto, & bole it enforesayd, & do þerto as to charlete, & serof.