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, October 14, 2007

To prepare chicken cookked in the way of the Sarceans,

Greetings from the humble scribe, Merouda Pendray

Today's medieval meal attempt was worthy, but I must be honest and upfront confess that one of the receipts has been interpreted in a way that produces something entirely outside the intended product.

Today's goals:
*Make a meal with products purchased at the farmer's market. I regularly incorporate daily life into my persona play, and I thought it might be interesting to cook based on what I could scout up.

*Create a quiche-type dish that I can eat. I had Amber Day Tart in mind.

And those two goals influenced my choices sufficiently that I ended up making tasty food that a 16th c. individual would recognize, but I can't call them finished redactions, yet.

The only usable things we came away from the market with were freshly laid chicken eggs & leeks. I did briefly consider cooking tomatoes as described by Gerard in his herbal, but I decided against it—this time. Anyway. On to the cooking.

Individual dishes and plated for one.
Click on picture for full view.

I initially wanted to try a couple of different quiche recipes, but I came to my senses and realized that I was never going to be able to handle that much egg without getting sick, nor would Michael enjoy eating that much egg substitute.

The first I wished to try, from Cury on Inglishe, was Tart in ymbre day, but what I actually ended up redacting was the Mushroom Tart in The Goodman of Paris with additional modifications based on the Ymbre Day recipe.

Mushrooms of one night be the best and they be little and red within and closed at the top; and they must be peeled and then washed in hot water and parboiled and if you wish to put them in a pasty add oil, cheese and spice powder.

The second one I wanted to try was this, from Platina:

Make your crust in the way you usually do for pastry; and when it is rolled out, put meal over it so that it can hold up all around, and put it in a pan near the fire to dry out. Then, when you have removed the the meal from the top crust, put in boiled chickens or pigeons cut in morsels, with almond milk, two egg yolks, and a little saffron, ginger, cinnamon, verjuice and rich juice. When it is cooked, take it from the oven and pour over it sugar and rosewater.

First problem: egg yolks. Tons of egg yolks here. Second problem: boiled rather than baked chicken. Ugh. We are not big on the boiled poultry. Third problem: no onions, just leeks. Fourth problem: No herbs I want to use—everything still viable in the garden is overwhelming. The Rue is still going strong, but we are not eating it. Next, the Michael man is going to have to be led up to eating fruit and onions

So, and to this very moment I am not sure what free-floating brain chemical became this idea, I decided that I would deal with the egg problem by trying to make one egg + ¼ egg substitute + ½ cup milk go the distance for both recipes.

Additional inspiration for the end products come from Ymbre day tart recipe quoted on Godecookery and a recipe from a 1381 manuscript called Ancient Cookery and cited in Seven Centuries of English Cooking by Maxime de la Falaise.

The meal, then, is a synthesis. Be absolutely aware of that. Have I warned you enough yet?

Okay, so, first, the chicken. It occurred to me that all the ingredients could be used to make a nice breading and the milk and egg mixture would function as the wash that would hold the breading to the poultry. So I mixed up the milk and egg. The breading was made from ¾ cup crushed crackers, about 1 tsp cinnamon, about 1 tsp ginger, about ¼ cup ground almonds. I omitted saffron as I didn't have any. I dipped the chicken in the milk-egg mixture, covered it wit the crumb mixture, and set the wings into a 350 degree oven to roast until done.

All the ingredients I had available to me from the chicken pie recipe are there, but it's plainly not a pie. It would occur to me later that the idea for breading the chicken came from the 1381 recipe “For to make a bruet of Sarcynesse.” I'd experimented with that recipe some months ago, and had the memory of the breaded beef patties baking away somewhere in the back of my brain.

We sprinkled the roasted wings with rose water and tucked in; it was actually very good, and it strikes me as a nice item for the traveling lunch. I think, however, that I could move it just a little closer to the original recipe by placing the chicken pieces close to each other in the bottom of a baking pan, pour about ½ the egg-milk mix over the chicken and covering it with the crumb mixture. One could then invert it on to a plate and have something closer to a pie for serving. However the individual pieces are very handy for serving and storing.

Next, the Amber Day Tart. The fairly quick realization that something with leeks and fruit was not going to go over well with Miguel-san made me start looking for other “vegetable in cheese” pies that could suggest substitutions that would be acceptable on the table.

Godecookery came to my rescue with a mushroom tart that is in about the same time frame as Cury on English and so I ended up doing the mushroom tart with lots of leeks added.

So, the tart is in a commercially prepared crust, and I prebaked it. I cut up two leeks and opened a can of mushrooms (as the mushrooms above are peeled and parboiled). I sauteed it all in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil then grated 2 oz of farmer's cheese (leftovers used up, baybe!) and 3 oz of sharp cheddar. I placed the vegetables, the leftover breadcrumb/spice mixture, and the cheeses into the piecrust, then poured the remaining egg/milk mix over the whole thing. I baked it at 350 degrees until the cheese melted.

On the whole, it worked well. I liked it but decided that it needed more milk/egg mixture; Michael felt it needed more mushrooms, and fresh ones, at that. The thing that took me, though, was the effect of the commercial pie crust. Ugh. Too greasy. I'd no idea they were that fatty—although, it could just be that my taste for fat is so changed that I notice it so much more these days.

It's plated out for a meal for one with fruit juice (sorry, no wine!), the ever present beets, and yogurt. MMMmmmmmmMMMMmmmm.

Suggestions solicited!

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