Thursday, January 14, 2016

Historically Food Fortnightly 1: Meat and Potatoes

The Challenge:  1. Meat-and-Potatoes (January 1 - January 14) They’re a staple for the tables in the most rustic cottages as well as the fanciest banquet tables - and it’s also an idiom meaning a staple or the most basic parts of something. Make a historic “meat-and-potatoes” recipe - however you interpret it.

The Recipe: (where did you find it, link to it if possible)
The link to the recipe  To boyle a Capon. TAke strong broth of Marrow-bones, or any other strong broth, put the Marrow into a Pipkin with Salt: boyle your Capon in the Pipkin, and scumme it cleane, before you be ready to take it off, put in your Salt. Take a pinte of white-Wine in a Pipkin, for one Capon, if you haue more, you must haue more Wine: halfe a pound of Sugar a quarter of a pound of Dates sliced, Potatoes boyled, and blauncht, large Mace, Nutmeg sliced: if you want Potatoes take Endiffe, and for want of both, boyle Skirrets & blaunch them: boile all together, with a quarter of a pint of Uergis, and the yolkes of Egges, straine it and stirre it about, and put it to the Capon with the strong broth.

My translation: To boyle a capon.  Take strong broth of marrow bones, or any strong broth, and put the marrow bones in a stew pan with salt.  Boil your capon in the stew pan, and scim it clean.  Put your salt in before it's almost done.  

Take a pint of white cooking wine and put it in a stew pan - enough for one capon.  If you have more than one capon, you must have more wine!  Half a pound of sugar, a quarter pound of dates, sliced, boiled and whitened potatoes, large mace and nutmeg sliced.  If don't have potatoes take endif (no clue what that is)  endive and if you don't have either, take skirrets, whiten and boil them in a quarter pint of verjuice and with egg yolks that have been strained.  Stir it and then add this to the chicken and the broth in the other stew pot.  (Edited because this makes way more sense)

The Date/Year and Region:  England, 1615

How Did You Make It: (a brief synopsis of the process of creation)

First, I have no idea what is meant by "endiffe" so I ignored everything after the nutmeg part - it seemed to be another way to cook the potatoes for the stew.   Edit:  I found out that the author probably meant endive for endiffe.  Endive is an herb.

 Second, I don't have access to capons (eunuch roosters) so I used modern chicken breast.  Honestly, I doubt there is much of a difference due to how much chicken has changed in the 20th and 21st centuries due to our farming techniques.   The entire reason they neutered the roosters back then was to make them more plump.
I used redskin potatoes because a) I like them and b) despite this being a sweet recipe, you can't make sweet potatoes white, which is what the recipe called for so...

1 box of chicken marrow bone broth - my grocery store actually sells this
1 chicken breast, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon of sea salt
1 pint of white cooking wine
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of chopped up dates
2 large redskin potatoes, chopped
a pinch of mace slices
1 teaspoon nutmeg, grounded up since I didn't have the sliced kind

I boiled the chicken in the broth in one pot and boiled the potatoes with pretty much everything else (minus the salt) in another.  That's really it.  Once the potatoes were boiled, I mixed the two together.

Time to Complete: Half hour
Total Cost:  Maybe $15?  The cooking wine was $4.29, the chicken breast was $2.99, the potatoes were about $1.29 for a lb, the dates were $2.99 for the entire bag which I didn't use all off, and the chicken broth was $3 ish, I think.   Everything else I had on hand.   

How Successful Was It?: (How did it taste? How did it look? Did it turn out like you thought it would?)

It was so much better than I thought it would be based on the ingredients that not only will I make it again, I finished this bowl.  I seriously chomped down on every bite.   It's sweet (of course) but it's absolutely delicious.  It's roughly about 400 calories per a bowl - not bad since I'm on a diet.

I knew it would be sweet but I thought it might be too sweet and the chicken broth wouldn't blend well with the super sweet wine and sugar mix I boiled the potatoes in.  Instead, it actually blended perfectly and the broth cut down the sweetness of the sugar and wine to a point that it's more "fruit" sweet than super sweet.  The pinch of mace and the teaspoon of nutmeg added just the right amount of spice.  I thought I might add cinnamon or ginger to it but I really now think that would ruin the balance of the dish.

How Accurate Is It?: (fess up to your modifications and make-dos here)   Chicken rather than capon is really the big one. The potatoes were a bit of a guessing game but I doubt they are very different from what was available in the early 17th century. Of course, I used a nice modern electric stove top as well.  Overall, I'm very pleased with this one.