Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - Cxxxvij. Chykonys in dropey Chicken with Gravy & .Clij. Capoun in Salome - Capon and Gravy

Chykonys in dropey with a Diuers Sallets boyled

When I came across this set of instructions 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 Thomas Austin I became excited and knew I had to try it.  When I first read through it, I believed that it contained some of the earliest instructions for using roux as a thickening agent.  I fell into the trap of using what I knew and applying it creating the assumption that I would know what the end result would be. Mia Culpa. 

What is dropey? The the Middle English Dictionary defines "Dropey" as a kind of sauce for fowl.  
drope (n.) Also drope, dropeie, (?error) drore.  A sauce or dressing for fowl.  (a1399) Form Cury p.18: Dropee.  Take blanched Almandes, grynde hem and temper hem up with gode broth; take Oynons..and frye hem and do thereto: take smale bryddes, parboyle hem [etc.]. ?c1425 Arun. Cook. Recipes 429: Drore to Potage. Take almonds..brothe of flesshe...onyons..small briddes [etc.] ibid. 449: At the seconde course drope, and rose to potage. al450 Hrl.Cook.Bk.(1) 30: Chykons in dropeye. 

A pottage is anything that can be cooked in a pot. Fortified by the definition I found, I had convinced myself that using a mixture of the almond milk, wheat starch or rice flour and the alkanet colored grease was the correct direction to go. However, according to the "The Food History Timeline", roux is a 17th century French preparation. 

"þen take fayre freysshe grece, & putte Alkenade þer-to, & gader his coloure þer-of"

It was not until I had researched similar recipes that I found the answer.  One of the earliest versions of Chykonys in Dropey can be found in "The Forme of Cury" by Samuel Pegge. There is another set of instructions for a dish called Fonnell, that instructs us to use grease that has been heated until it melted with alkanet as a decoration for the dish before it is sent out to the table.  I have used these instructions for the interpretation of Chyknoys in Dropey presented above. 


Take Almandes unblaunched. grynde hem and drawe hem up with gode broth, take a lombe [2] or a kidde and half rost hym. or the þridde [3] part, smyte hym in gobetes and cast hym to the mylke. take smale briddes yfasted and ystyned [4]. and do þerto sugur, powdour of canell and salt, take zolkes of ayrenn harde ysode and cleeue [5] a two and ypaunced [6] with flour of canell and florish þe sewe above. take alkenet fryed and yfoundred [7] and droppe above with a feþur [8] and messe it forth.

[1] Fonnell. Nothing in the recipe leads to the etymon of this multifarious dish. [2] Lombe. Lamb. [3] thridde. Third, per metathesin. [4] yfasted (made secure) and ystyned (closed). [5] cleeue. cloven. [6] ypaunced. pounced. [7] yfoundred. melted, dissolved. [8] feþ'. feather.

Original Recipe

.Cxxxvij. Chykons in dropeye.—They schul ben fayre y-boylid in fayre watere tyl þey ben y-now, þen take hem fyrst, & choppe hem smal: & whan þey ben y-now, tempere vppe a gode Almaunde mylke of þe same, & with Wyne: a-lye it with Amyndon, oþer with [leaf 24.] floure of Rys: þen take fayre freysshe grece, & putte Alkenade þer-to, & gader his coloure þer-of, & ley þe quarterys .v. or .vj. in a dysshe, as it wole come a-bowte, & Salt it atte þe dressoure, sprynge with a feþer or .ij. here & þere a-bowte þe dysshe; & ȝif þou lyst, put þer-on pouder of Gyngere, but noȝt a-boue, but in þe potage, & þan serue forth.


137 - Chicken in Dropeye - They should be fair boiled in fair water till they be enough, then take them first and chop them small, and when they be enough, temper up a good almond milk of the same, and with wine, mix with wheat starch, or with flour of rice, then take fair fresh grease, and put alkanet there-to, and gather his color there-of and let they be quarters five or six in a dish, as it will come about, and salt it at the dresser, sprinkle (sprynge) with a feather or two here and there about the dish, and if you like, put there-on powder ginger, but not above, but in the potage, and then serve forth.

Chicken in Dropey 

2 Servings


2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs (for ease of serving)
1 cup almond milk made with broth chicken was boiled in
1 tbsp. wheat starch or riceflour, or 1 1/2 tbsp. unbleached white all purpose flour
2 tbsp. lard (preferred), or butter or oil can be substituted (I used bacon grease)
1 1/2 tsp. powdered alkanet
1/2 tsp. salt 
1/4 tsp. pepper 
1/2 tsp. ground ginger

Opt: 1 chicken bouilloncube or 1 cup  chicken stock instead of water to cook chicken in for extra flavor, up to 1/4 cup dry white wine.


Add alkanet powder to oil, lard or butter and heat slowly. Allow alkanet and oil to steep while completing the remaining steps.  Alternately, you can do this step ahead of time, and allow oil and alkanet to steep overnight. 

Boil your chicken until it is tender. Remove from broth and keep warm.  

Use the broth the chicken that was cooked in to make your almond milk. For instructions on how to make your own quick almond milk, visit this link:  Almond Milk

Heat almond milk and wine if you are using it, to just below a simmer and add wheat starch or rice flour, salt and pepper.  Cook until the sauce begins to thicken.  Once sauce begins to thicken remove from the heat and allow the carry over to continue to cook it.  

To Serve: 

For ease of presentation, serve the chicken sliced, sprinkled with a bit of salt and pepper.  Drizzle the almond milk sauce over the top of the chicken and then decorate with the alkanet oil and a pinch of powdered ginger. 

Note:  This is a dish that had been boiled in broth and is served with a sauce. It would be an appropriate dish to serve before a dish of roasted meats as a first course in a "modern medieval feast".

I found this to be a very simple and easy dish to put together, I paired it with a boiled salad made of mixed greens, onions and currants that had been boiled in water, and then sprinkled with powdered douce and fresh made bread.  The house smells divine! 

It was a good meal enjoyed by both me and the taste tester.  I did not use the wine in the recipe but opted to use bouillon cubes to add additional flavor to the chicken as it cooked.  

This is a very striking dish to look at, and a little bit of the alkanet oil does go a long way.  Although alkanet is a bit difficult to obtain, and slightly costly, the cost is offset by how far a little bit of it would go. In addition to being a good course to serve before a roasted, fried, baked or grilled course, this would make a very lovely luncheon for royalty. 

.Clij. Capoun in Salome.—Take a Capoun & skalde hym, Roste hym, þen take þikke Almaunde mylke, temper it wyth wyne Whyte oþer Red, take a lytyl Saunderys & a lytyl Safroun, & make it a marbyl coloure, & so atte þe dressoure þrow on hym in ye kychoun, & þrow þe Mylke a-boue, & þat is most commelyche, & serue forth.

Clij - Capoun in Salome. Take a Capoun and skalde hym, Roste hym, then take thikke Almaunde mylke, temper it wyth wyne Whyte other Red, take a lytyl Saunderys and a lytyl Safroun, and make it a marbyl coloure, and so atte the dressoure throw on hym in ye kychoun, and throw the Mylke a-boue, and that is most comely, and serue forth.

152.  Capon in Salome.  Take a capon and scald him, roast him, then take thick almond milk, temper it with wine, white or red, take a little saunders, and a little saffron, and make it a marble color, and so at the dresser, throw him in the kitchen, and throw the mil above, and that is most comely, and serve forth. 

2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs (for ease of serving)
1 cup almond milk made with 1/4 cup white or red wine
1 1/2 tsp. powdered saffron or sanders 
1/2 tsp. salt  (for modern taste)
1/4 tsp. pepper (for modern taste)

As above.  

Similar Recipes

Forme of Cury (England, 1390)


Take blanched Almandes grynde hem and temper hem up with gode broth take Oynouns a grete quantite parboyle hem and frye hem and do þerto. take smale bryddes [2] parboyle hem and do þerto Pellydore [3] and salt. and a lytel grece.

[1] Drepee. Qu. [2] bryddes. Birds. Per metathesin; v. R. in Indice. [3] Pellydore. Perhaps pellitory. Peletour, 104.

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

.xix. Drepee. Take blaunched almaundes, grynd hem & temper up with gode broth take oynouns a grete quantite, & boile hem & fry hem & fo therto, take smale briddes perboile hem & do therto, & do therto pellydore & salt & a litul grece.

Ancient Cookery [Arundel 334] (England, 1425)

Servise on flesshe-day. Bores-hed enarmed (ornamented), and bruce to potage; and therwith beefs, and moton, and pestels (legs) of porke; and therwith swan and conynge rosted, and tarte. 

At the seconde course drope, and rose to potage; and therwith maudelard and faisant, and chekons farsed (stuffed) and rosted, and malachis baken. 

At the thridde course conynges in grave, and bore in brasc to potage; and therwith teles rosted, and partriches, ande woodcock, and snytes, and raffyolys baken, and flampoyntes.

Drore to potage. Take almondes, and blaunche hom, and grynde hom, and temper hit up wyth gode brothe of flesshe, and do hit in a pot, 'and let hit sethe; and take onyons, and mince hom, andfrye hom in freshe greeseand do therto; then take smale briddes, and parboyle hom, and do thereto, and put thereto pouder of canel, and of clowes, and a lytel faire grees, and let hit be white, and let hit boyle, and serve it forthe.