November 15, 2013 by phicks2012
It has occurred to me that not a lot of people have experience with or knowledge of Medieval recipes, and that the general public either assumes that meals during that period were composed of gruel and ale or were banquets featuring bizarre ingredients.
Both assumptions can be true, representing extremes, but there were also many interesting recipes utilizing ingredients still common today. So I decided to try some of these recipes, and to Blog about how they turned out — for good or bad.
My sources for these recipes will vary, but I will include links to the source web pages, or will credit the books from which I took them.
The first recipe I tried was from the Gode Cookery web site at http://www.godecookery.com/, and the recipe was for “Blawmanger”, a traditional medieval rice dish found at http://www.godecookery.com/goderec/grec34.htm
PERIOD: England, 14th century | SOURCE: Utilis Coquinario | CLASS: Authentic
DESCRIPTION: Traditional medieval rice dish
28. Blawmanger. Tak þe two del of rys, þe thridde pert of almoundes; wash clene þe rys in leuk water & turne & seth hem til þay breke & lat it kele, & tak þe melk & do it to þe rys & boyle hem togedere. & do þerto whit gres & braun of hennes grounde smale, & stere it wel, & salte it & dresch it in disches. & frye almaundes in fresch gres til þey be browne, & set hem in þe dissches, & strawe þeron sugre & serue it forth.
– Hieatt, Constance B. and Sharon Butler. Curye on Inglish: English Culinary Manuscripts of the Fourteenth-Century (Including the Forme of Cury). London: For the Early English Text Society by the Oxford University Press, 1985.
GODE COOKERY TRANSLATION:
Blancmange. Take two parts of rice, the third part of almonds; wash the rice clean in lukewarm water & turn & boil them til they break and let cool, & take milk and add to the rice and boil together. Add white grease & ground dark chicken meat, & stir well, & salt it and place it in dishes. Fry almonds in fresh grease until brown, & set them in the dishes, and strew on sugar & serve it.
1 cup rice
3 cups Almond Milk
1 cup ground cooked chicken, dark meat only
1/4 cup fried slivered almonds
sugar to garnish
Bring to a boil the rice, milk, & salt. Reduce heat, stir in chicken, & cover; allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed and rice is fluffy. Garnish with almonds and a sprinkle of sugar.
Judging by the many versions of this recipe that appear in period cookbooks, it is certain that most (if not all) medieval cooks were at least familiar with this dish. By the strictest definition, Blawmanger (also known as blankmanger) is any bland, white pottage based on almond milk, and (except for a few fish-day versions) contains ground poultry, thickened with rice flour; the standard English flesh-day version was ground capon (or chicken) with rice and almond milk. In some recipes the poultry is in chunks, rather than ground up. Today’s modern blancmange is a type of rice-pudding dessert, much beloved by the English, and only bears a slight resemblance to its medieval forerunner.
Selection: I tried this recipe first because it was simple and didn’t require a lot of exotic ingredients that I didn’t already have and would therefore need to purchase. The only thing I needed to buy was Almond Milk.
Cooking: This was a very easy and fairly quick recipe to make, but I didn’t grind up the chicken or use dark meat. I prefer dark meat, so I eat that as nature intended. I’m always, on the other hand, looking for ways to use the white meat so I used that instead (it’s also lower fat) and I chopped it up very fine. I substituted Splenda for sugar (again for caloric reasons), and I fried the almonds lightly in just a bit of olive oil.
Critique: The almond milk gave this a slightly different flavor, but as the recipe was written the dish was not well enough seasoned for my palate. The rice never got “fluffy” as the modern recipe told me to expect, but rather gummy and the consistency was more like that of a rice-pudding. Still, once tinkered with it made a rather nice side-dish. It needed more than a “dash” of salt, and from reading the original recipe I suspect more than a “dash” was used. The modern recipe also did not mention adding the grease. This being a rice dish, by substituting I only managed to save about 15 calories per serving. I considered using brown rice, but that actually upped the fat and calorie numbers — though it also increased the fiber grams.
Oh well. Still, not bad.