The Cook-A-Long is a virtual kitchen for Medieval and Renaissance Cooking enthusiasts in the SCA. Each month a period recipe will be posted in the original language (when available) and a translation. All cooks are encouraged to try their hand at redacting and preparing the monthly dish and post his/ her results to the blog. If you are interested in becoming a participant in this cook a long, or would like to submit a dish for the month please send an e-mail to valkyr8 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


Howdy! This is Gwyneth, from Northshield, and I also redacted and made this recipe today. I realize, as I read over this, that it is long, and I apologize for my verbosity.

I'm going to talk first about my ingredient choices, for just a moment. A little on-line research seemed to indicate that guinea fowl or Cornish game hens were probably the best replacement for pigeon, and for expediency sake (the store on the way home from work sells them fresh) I got the Cornish game hens. I used two whole hens.

I spent a lot of time considering the cheese. I wrote to two Spanish cheese importers, asking if there was a substitute widely available in the US as a replacement for the Cheese of Aragon, and was told simply no. I ended up using a Spanish cheese from Trader Joe's called Iberica, a semi-hard cheese made with a mixture of sheep, goat and cow's milk.

The bread was the other thought-provoking thing for me. After toasting, but before preparing, it says to "scald or soak" the bread in broth before assembling. I wanted something that would toast nicely and stay a little crunchy - I really dislike mushy bread stuff. So I ended up using an Italian ciabatta. It stayed together nicely during the assembly, and even retained a little crunch on the crust after soaking and being covered with sauce.

I chose beef broth instead of mutton or chicken - I couldn't find commercially available mutton broth, but thought it would have a stronger flavor than chicken, so I went with beef.

I realized, as I was making this, that I didn't have the garlic cloves at home as I had thought, and I wasn't in a position to go to the store, so I used some minced garlic from the fridge, roasted in a custard cup while the game hens were roasting. I think I got a very similar result.

Here's what I used:

2 Cornish Game hens
2 cups beef broth, separated
2 cloves garlic, roasted (or 1 1/4 Tsp, minced)
1/2 loaf ciabatta bread, sliced (about 14-16 slices would be right for this amount of meat, I think)
4 oz Iberica cheese, grated
2 egg yolks
1 Tbsp lard
Salt and pepper to taste

I roasted the game hens in a 350 oven for about an hour, or until done. I sprinkled them with salt and pepper almost instinctively before I roasted them. When they were done, I cooled a little and then sliced the meat off the bones. The skin did not come out attractively, so I ended up taking the skin off before using it.

While the meat was roasting, I roasted the garlic in the same oven for about the last 15 minutes. I also sliced my bread, and set it on the oven racks to toast.

I used a beef bouillon to make the broth, so I heated two cups of water to almost boiling and mixed in the bouillon. I then set aside 1/2 cup of the broth for the toast. I put the larger amount of broth, garlic, cheese and two egg yolks into the blender, and mixed until smooth.

At that point I thought I had made a horrible mistake. It smelled awful, and the broth really came through overwhelmingly. Ick. But I was determined to try it all the way through. I did, however, decide to heat the sauce up, because it had cooled substantially. I heated it carefully over medium heat just until it was steaming, and added the tablespoon of lard, stirring it in until it was melted.

I soaked the bread in the extra broth, and made stacks of bread/meat/bread/meat/bread. I poured a ladle-full of sauce over it, and sat down to try my feast. It was . . . underwhelming. But it better than it smelled earlier. I ate my first little stack, thought about it, and went back for a second.

I have to admit, I decided everything is better with a little salt and pepper, so I added some before sitting down to try the second taste.

Something happened, between the first and second tastes. I don't think it was only the salt and pepper, I think it was the sauce actually melding. But it was substantially better. In fact, I might even say it was good. I went back for a third taste, and it was still pretty good.

So there ends my saga. I don't know that I would add this to my everyday dinner rotation, as I would some other medieval recipes that my family likes. But I would make it for a medieval event.


ecb said...

Don't worry about being verbose! I enjoy hearing everyone's thought process in redaction, which pretty much promises nothing but long entries. :-)

Liz said...

I agree with Merouda. This is supposed to be a learning process so feel free to include your thoughts along the way. Don't worry about the length of the posts.