Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .xxvj. Coleys - Chicken Cullis

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .xxvj. Coleys - Chicken Cullis

The 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 Thomas Austin gives us an opportunity to explore techniques for cooking that were popular in the 15th century. I am always surprised by the ingenuity of the medieval cook. Here is an example of  a dish that  utilizes a cooking technique which is making a comeback.  I believe that this set of instructions gives us an opportunity to create a timeline for the use of a kind of bone broth in the medieval period. At the very least, we can trace the use of bones and the earliest forms of bone broth to broth to the Forme of Cury (1390) and documented usage to the mid 1400's.

Coleys calls for not only the broth that was made from boiling the capon, but "the liquor of the bones", which I assume means something similar to a bone broth.  This leads me to believe that Coleys may have been considered appropriate for the elderly, sick or very young.

Rhoda Boone in her article "Stock, Broth and Bone Broth—What's the Difference?" explains the differences between broth, stock and bone broth.  I urge you to read this informative article. Very briefly,  broth is water, vegetables, meat and aromatics which may or may not include bones that are cooked for a very short period of time (up to two hours) and then strained.  The goal of making a broth is to create something that can be enjoyed on its own, for example as a base for soup.  Stock on the other hand, includes the same ingredients but is cooked for a much longer period of time (approximately 4-6 hours) with the goal of extracting collagen.  Stock is used to create rich sauces or gravies and should not be used on its own.

Bone broth is a combination of broth and stock. It is usually made from bones which have been roasted and which may or may not contain some meat still attached. It is cooked for a very long period of time, sometimes up to 24 hours.  When you make a bone broth you are not only extracting the collagen and the gelatin from the bones, you are also releasing the minerals within the bones.  Like broth, bone broth can be strained, seasoned and enjoyed on its own.

.xxvj. Coleys.—Take a gode Capoun an boyle hem tendere, an pyke a-way clene þe bonys an þe Skyn, an bray hym in a morter, an tempere hym wyth þe same brothe, an strayne hym þorw a straynoure; þenne take þe brawn an þe fleysshe, an a lytil whyte brede, an bray hem alle to-gederys in a morter; þen take þe lycowr of þe bonys, an þe skyn, an þe brothe þat þe Capoun was sothyn ynne, an with al tempere it, but nowt to þicke; þen put it in a potte, an let it be al hote, but let it boyle for no þing; an caste þer-to a litil powder of Gyngere, Sugre an Salt. An ȝif it be on a fyssheday, take Haddok, Pyke, Tenche, Reȝge, Codlynd, an pyke a-way þe bonys [leaf 10.] an tempere wyth almaunde mylke; an make it hot, an caste þer-to Sugre an Salt, an serue forth.

xxvj - Coleys. Take a gode Capoun an boyle hem tendere, an pyke a-way clene the bonys an the Skyn, an bray hym in a morter, an tempere hym wyth the same brothe, an strayne hym thorw a straynoure; thenne take the brawn an the fleysshe, an a lytil whyte brede, an bray hem alle to-gederys in a morter; then take the lycowr of the bonys, an the skyn, an the brothe that the Capoun was sothyn ynne, an with al tempere it, but nowt to thicke; then put it in a potte, an let it be al hote, but let it boyle for no thing; an caste ther-to a litil powder of Gyngere, Sugre an Salt. An 3if it be on a fyssheday, take Haddok, Pyke, Tenche, Re3ge, Codlynd, an pyke a-way the bonys an tempere wyth almaunde mylke; an make it hot, an caste ther-to Sugre an Salt, an serue forth.

26. - Coleys - Take a good capon and boil him tender, and pick away clean the bones and the skin, and pound him in a mortar, and temper him with the same broth, and strain him through a strainer; then take the meat and the flesh, and a little white bread, and pound them all together in a mortar; then take the liquor of the bones, and the skin, and the broth that the capon was boiled in, and with all temper it, but not too thick; then put it in a pot, and let it be all hot, but let it boil for nothing; and caste there-to a little powder of ginger, sugar and salt. And if it be on a fish day, take haddock, pike, tench, Re3ge (skate or ray, possibly shark), codlyng (an inferior form of cod), and pick away the bones and temper with almond milk; and make it hot, and caste thereto sugar and salt, and serve forth.

Interpreted Recipe                                                                             Serves 1 as Main, 2 as Side

1/4 pound of bone in, skin on chicken
Water to cover
1/4 cup (or more) bread
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. sugar
Salt to taste

Cut your chicken into pieces, and place them into a pan. Cover with cold water until it is about an inch over the top of the chicken, bring to boil and cook till tender.  Allow to cool overnight, pick the chicken from the skin and the bones.  Crack the bones, and then place the bones and the skin back into the broth and heat. Strain the broth, and reserve a little to mix with your chicken, spices and bread until a thick paste is formed. Place the paste in the broth and allow it to heat through.

I had originally thought the meat, broth and bread mixture would form a kind of meat ball in the broth.  However, as it began to heat it fell apart for me and created a thick chicken porridge for lack of a better term.  This does not look good, but it tastes delicious!  I added salt for additional flavoring and I must confess to adding a teaspoon of vinegar to the chicken to sharpen the taste a bit.

A little bit more research indicates that Coley's may be a predecessor to "Cullis" or "Coulis" which is defined as "A strong broth made of meat or fowl with other ingredients used as a base for various sauces or as a restorative for the sick." I would serve this on sops of toasted bread at an event, or use it as a base for thickening another dish made with poultry to make a kind of gravy.  I have no idea if this is the intent of the dish, as "Du Fait de Cuisine" indicates--this is a dish for the ill.

I feel like I need to start placing a caveat at the bottom of each post--I am a hobbyist and I am still very much learning my craft.  This is something I do for fun, and with a hope to introduce individuals to food history and entice them to do research on their own.  I hope that they find my posts fun and informative and intriguing enough to strike out on their own. I am - not - an authority, nor do I masquerade as one. The sad reality is that no matter how much we learn about this kind of cooking, we will never be authorities, at best, we are guessing at the author's and the cook's intent. I welcome *constructive* criticism and I will own up to mistakes.

Be kind to each other, please.

Forme of Cury (England, 1390)

XI - FOR TO MAKE A COLYS. Nym hennys and schald hem wel. and seth hem after and nym the lyre and hak yt smal and bray it with otyn grotys in a morter and with wyte bred and temper it up wyth the broth Nym the grete bonys and grynd hem al to dust and kest hem al in the brothand mak it thorw a clothe and boyle it and serve it forthe.

Du fait de cuisine (France, 1420 - Elizabeth Cook, trans.)

71. Again, a coulleys: to give understanding to him who will make it let him arrange that he has capons or chickens or partridges, whichever is ordered from him by the doctors, and let him take the said poultry and pluck, clean, and wash it very well and cleanly and put to cook in a clear and very clean pot and a little mutton and a very little salt; and cook it well and properly on a clear fire. And while it is cooking let him arrange that he has a great quantity of very good almonds as are needed, and let him clean, blanch, and wash them very well and put them to be brayed in a mortar which does not smell at all of garlic, and bray them well and strongly and moisten them with the said broth of the aforesaid poultry or partridge; and, being sufficiently brayed, draw out the said poultry onto fair dishes and from the said poultry take all of the white meat and chop it very fine and then put it in the mortar with these said almonds and bray it all together very well and strongly, and in braying moisten it with the aforesaid broth; and, being brayed enough, take it from the said broth and strain through a fair and clean strainer and make milk of it - and put in no spices except by the command of the doctor. And then put it to boil and, this being boiled, put it in fair silver or gold bowls and let it be carried to the sick person.

For a kolys. Þe brawne take of sothun henne or chekyne, And hew hit smalle and bray þen with wyne, With ote grotis, and whyte brede eke. With þe brothe of henne þou tempur hit meke. Take oute þe bonys and grynd hit smalle, In to þe brothe þou kast hit alle, And sye hit thurgh a clothe clene. Dose hit, and serve hit forthe bydene.

A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)

To mak a colles tak the braun of capon or henne and hew it small and bray it with otemele and whit bred cast ther to good pouders and saffron then tak out the bones and grind the flesshe small and cast it unto the brothe and sie it throughe a clothe and salt it boile it and serue it