The Way We Eat: Olde School
This had to be posted because of the hideous and inhumane recipe from the 14th c. Le Viander de Taillevent manuscript. Eric should appreciate this. Ack! From the New York Times:
The Way We Eat: Olde School
Published: April 30, 2006

When the chef Heston Blumenthal acquired the Hinds Head Hotel in Bray, England, in 2004, he really just wanted the attached offices and parking for his three-Michelin-star restaurant, the Fat Duck, next door. What he got instead was an 18th-century pub. Rather than serve his trademark better-eating-through-chemistry fare (sardine-on-toast sorbet, etc.), Blumenthal realized that he was going to have to stick to traditional English dishes like steak and kidney pudding, Lancashire hot pot and the like to avoid being run out of town by angry old men.
One day, while looking for inspiration in his collection of medieval and Tudor cookbooks, he recalled a conversation he had at an Oxford symposium two years before with Marc Meltonville, a ceramic historian turned food archaeologist who was restoring the 55-room kitchens of Hampton Court Palace, which reopened to the public this month. In order to learn how things were done in the time of Henry VIII, Meltonville's team recreates not only period dishes like spinach-and-date fritters and spit-roasted meat but also all of the utensils used to prepare them. In that first conversation, Blumenthal regaled Meltonville with a fantasy recipe, one he discovered in a translation of an old French cookbook. To give you a sense of Blumenthal's devilish enthusiasm and curiosity, listen to how he recounted the recipe to me (my highly professional responses are in italics):
"I had came across a manuscript of Le Viander de Taillevent. He was the chef to the Palais Royal in Paris. I think it was the 14th century.. . .And in there was this wonderful — wonderful? fascinating as opposed to wonderful; it's not the right word — recipe for how to roast a chicken. You take the chicken, and you pluck the chicken while it's still alive, and you baste the skin with a mixture of soya, wheat germ and dripping, I think it was. And apparently this makes it look like the skin's been roasted. You then put the head of this live chicken under its tummy and rock it to sleep. Then you get two other chickens and you roast them. And you bring these three chickens out on a tray to the table. You start carving one of the roasted chickens. And. . .the one that is still alive but sleeping goes sort of 'Wha!' — head pops up — and it runs off down the table."
Oh, my God.
"And that's Part 1. Then you take this poor chicken, and you kill it, and you stuff its neck with a mixture of quicksilver, which is mercury, and sulfur, and then stitch it up. And apparently — obviously I haven't tried this at home, or at work — the expanding air in the neck cavity as you roast causes the mercury and the sulfur to react and somehow creates a clucking noise."
Oh, my God.
"And then you bring this clucking chicken back to the table. So you've taken a live chicken and made it appear dead, and then you've brought it back to life again."
Oh, my God.
"And so it's completely extreme, but it represents for me a point of creativity in cooking — not that I'd ever do anything like that."
Meltonville, according to Blumenthal, then topped his tale with a recipe for chicken cooked in a wine bottle, and a friendship was born. Eventually the two began collaborating on historical dishes for the Hinds Head, with Meltonville suggesting recipes and visiting the Bray kitchen for guidance. Their first dish: quaking pudding, a proto-treacle tart that first appeared in "The Accomplisht Cook" in 1660. Because the recipes collected from that time are vague — no amounts, no cooking times, no temperatures — it took almost 50 tries to get the pudding right; tasty, quaking, but still authentic. Next was chocolate wine (circa 1720), a mixture of port and chocolate. "We tried flaming the wine and reducing it by a quarter, reducing it by a half," Blumenthal recalls. "And then we tried changing the chocolate and the levels of chocolate and thickening. But then there was a more recent chocolate wine recipe — maybe a couple hundred years old — that had some flour in it.. . ." And so on. The "oldy-moldy Medieval-sounding" buttered beer was a bust, while venison pasty with pickled cucumber was a success. All of these items are going on the menu at the Hinds Head. A few will appear at the Fat Duck, where the revamped à la carte menu already has such nouvelle ancienne cuisine touches as mead jelly and venison-and-frankincense tea.
"Something really traditional set against something really modern makes the traditional seem even more traditional and the modern seem even more modern," Blumenthal explains. And so the chocolate wine might work its way into a Fat Duck dessert tasting, somewhere between mango-and-Douglas-fir purée and bacon-and-egg ice cream.
Indeed, Fat Duck diners expecting its mad-scientist menu might one day tuck into another Tudor dish: beef royal. "You look at the ingredients, and it kind of seems a bit like a car crash, but I think it's funny," Blumenthal tells me. "It's truffles — black truffle, white truffle — sweetbreads, foie gras, red wine, port and some other things. I think the only thing missing was caviar. But it does look very interesting.. . ."
Hinds Head Chocolate Wine
2, 375-ml. bottles Banyuls or Maury wine, or 1, 750-ml. bottle ruby port
½ cup 2% milk
1 ounce 33% Valrhona milk
chocolate, finely chopped.
1. In a wide saucepan, boil the wine until reduced to 1 ¼ cups. Meanwhile, heat the milk to a boil. Place the chocolate in a mixing bowl, pour the milk over it and stir until the chocolate is melted.
2. Stir the wine into the chocolate mixture, return to the saucepan and reheat just until steaming. Using a hand blender, blend until frothy. Serve in small cups. Serves 6. Adapted from the Hinds Head.

Spinach-and-Date Fritters

8 ounces spinach
3 large eggs, beaten until smooth
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 ounces (about 20 medium) pitted dates
2 ounces (scant ½ cup) currants
½ cup fine dry bread crumbs, or more as needed
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup beer
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting.
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the spinach. Cook until thoroughly wilted, then drain well in a colander and cool.
2. Squeeze out as much water as possible and transfer spinach to a cutting board. Using the back of a large knife, pound the spinach repeatedly to break down the fibers in the stalks and leaves. When the spinach has a mashed appearance, chop coarsely. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the eggs and mix well. Stir in the salt, pepper, ginger and cinnamon.
3. Using a food processor, or by hand, finely chop the dates and currants. Add to the spinach mixture and stir until blended. Mix in ð cup bread crumbs and allow to sit for 2 to 3 minutes. The mixture should be thick enough to shape into balls about
1 ¼ inches in diameter. If necessary, add more bread crumbs to obtain the right consistency. Make 24 balls.
4. Place a wide, deep pan over medium heat and add enough oil to come about 1 ½ inches up the side of the pan. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, make a batter by mixing together the flour and beer, stirring until very smooth.
5. When the oil is shimmering, dip a spinach ball in the batter, allowing any excess to drip off. Place the ball in the oil. It should begin to fry immediately, turning light golden brown in 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining balls and batter, adjusting heat as necessary. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve hot. Makes 24 fritters. Adapted from Hampton Court Palace.

Quaking Pudding

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup whole milk
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus additional for dusting
4 large egg yolks
1 large egg
¼ cup sugar.
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Fill a kettle with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Butter 6 ½ -cup heatproof custard or pudding cups.
2. In a small saucepan, combine the milk, cream, nutmeg and cinnamon. Set over low heat until steaming, then remove from heat and set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, egg and sugar. Continue to whisk while slowly adding the warm milk mixture. When the mixture is smooth, pour into the custard cups. Cover each cup with aluminum foil.
4. Arrange the cups in a deep baking dish large enough to hold them snugly. Carefully add boiling water to come almost all the way up the sides of the cups. Bake until the centers of the puddings reach 190 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 45 to 55 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes. Run a thin flexible knife along the upper inside edge of each pudding to loosen it. Hold a small plate firmly over a custard cup, invert the cup and plate, then remove the cup. Repeat with the remaining cups. Serve warm, paired with something slightly acidic, like apple slices in simple syrup with lemon juice. Serves 6. Adapted from the Hinds Head.

Chocolate Wine

1 pint ruby port
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60% cocoa or higher)
1/2 teaspoon flour
Sugar, optional.
1. In a small saucepan, combine the port and chocolate. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is steaming and smooth.
2. Add the flour and stir until the wine is slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. If desired, stir in 1/4 teaspoon sugar or more to taste. Serve hot. Serves 6. Adapted from a recipe by John Knott, circa. 1720, courtesy of Hampton Court Palace.
Oh my goodness! This is awesome! This is the coolest thing I've read in the last month!! Thank you!
I think I'm just going to stop eating in restaurants.

I don't trust them anymore :-)

I'm really curious about how easy it would be to hypnotize a chicken that had just been plucked and basted.
Tabitha and Whiskas would sure love this dish. They would go crazy after the third roasted chicken. [Image: kitty.gif] And that Chocolate Wine sounds great.

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)