So yesterday I continued the medieval cooking all afternoon, despite feeling ill. So it was a little bit of a struggle. The first item on the menu was the Pheasant, Chicken and Meat Pie. This felt medieval. The first step was simmering a pheasant breast in onion, celery, carrots (ours) , a bayleaf with 4 cloves stabbed into it and with some white wine.
Then there was a bowl of minced pork (ours), minced beef (ours) and chopped bacon mixed with crushed juniper berries, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Then there was a bowl with chicken thigh pieces (ours) soaked in saffron with dates, raisins and sultanas (golden raisins for us Americans) and warm water. Then you make a hot crust pastry (with our lard) and spread it out. The minced meats are placed on it with the chicken mixture and the pheasant bits on the top.
The sides are brought up and then a lid is added. There is a nutmeg-sized hole cut in the top to add jellied pheasant stock afterwards. It didn’t seem like I had enough pastry to cover the amount of meats I had. So there are some defects in my pastry. It is not as pretty as the pictures. But it appeared to bake OK. I took temperature measurements inside, and all were good.
It is cooled and then the jellied stock is supposed to be added. From it wasn’t quite cool enough, and the stock leaked out. I finally gave up and cut it open (as it was dinnertime).
But then I put it on my plate and it was more obvious that the minced meats were not cooked adequately. So I put it all back in the oven and recooked it.
In the meantime, thankfully, I had roasted the remaining pheasant and chicken so we had that for dinner. But Tom was a little disgusted with my medieval cooking attempts.
I also made a 1604 Mince Pies recipe. This involved cooked minced mutton (I used lamb chops), shredded beef suet (ours), currants and raisins. Of note, last year I had great trouble finding currants for my holiday cooking. So this year I hoarded them and have plenty. Walmart actually rescued me last year as they were the only store locally that had any. For these pies I also added ginger, mace, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, sugar and finely grated rind of 1/2 an orange. This mixture went in puff pastry.
It puffed more than I thought it would. I think they are wonderful. For me they taste like Christmas. You can’t tell there is lamb in them. Tom won’t even try one though, stating that he hates mincemeat. His loss.
I also made Frumerty, This is from The Form of Cury from 1390. I simmered pearl barley with water and saffron for an hour. I then added milk then cinnamon, mace, salt and currants until the liquid was absorbed. It was taken off the heat and an egg yolk was added. It is served with double cream and honey. I used this as the first course for our dinner (before the meat pie disaster).
I liked it. To me it tastes like what Christmas morning breakfast should be. Unfortunately I do not think it will beat out sticky buns in our household. Tom was lukewarm about it. I miraculously was able to find double cream at our local grocery store.
Finally I made Lamb’s Wool. This is a warm drink for Wassail. I thought I had made this for our Wassails here, but I guess not rereading the posts on them. You are supposed to cook Bramley apples, but I cannot find them currently in this area. So I purchased Bramley applesauce from the British Food Shop. There is nothing better for cooking than Bramley apples. Unfortunately our tree didn’t produce this year.
It is interesting that the Colman mustard company makes this sauce. It turns out it is a chunky sauce, unlike what I am used to. I warmed it and added sugar, ginger nutmeg and Tom’s hard apple cider to it. Here it is in a Christmas cup.
It was good. It would be really good in a cold Wassail.
I was able to recook the meat pie and had it for dinner tonight. It is good. Tom had a bite and thought it had good (but stuck to only one bite). So limited success with Part 2 of Medieval and Tudor cooking. I look forward to delving into Georgian and Regency Britain with Christmas foods from the 1700s to 1820s. Wish me luck!