So I'm starting my experimental history of food posts, and I have to say, I have not enjoyed cooking so much since I was in school taking Domestic Science. I decided to go all the way back to the time of Henry the Eighth for my first venture, and the dish was so unfamiliar, it really reminded me why my love of cooking started all the way back in my teens. The relationship between ingredients is so wonderful, and I was amused and intrigued by the ban on garlic - which did not make an appearance until the late 1600s (and then was never eaten by ladies!!) - and I was astonished by the amount of Saffron in every dish! I would have presumed that Saffron was a fairly recent spice, for the British Isles, but in medieval cooking it is everywhere! In the medieval times apparently, they loved their food very colourful and used Saffron and cochineal left right and centre!
So I looked through the recipes I have here, and settled on a main course called Meat Custard. Sounds horrific doesn't it? Well, it was really lovely, and everyone commented on how different it was to our modern food, how the tastes were unusual yet not of any world cuisine they could think of.
What did I think? I really liked Meat Custard. I absolutely loved making it, I felt close to my ancestors (me granny was english!), I could picture them in their bright airy kitchens, rolling up their sleeves and chatting away in the lovely poetic 'olde' english language... and it tasted great too! The sauce was delicious, the meat custard delicious, and everything just worked so well. These dishes would have had to have been popular to have been recorded, so it would seem Meat Custard was a days of olde Lasagne!!
Should you try it? Sure! Its not difficult to make, it is good hot or cold and Bill tells me its great in a sandwich - so why not!
Meat Custard and Saffron Sauce
Soupes of Salomere : Take boylid beef & boylid pork & hew yt an grynd it; then take cowe mylke, & Eyround y-swonge, & Safroun & mynce Percyly bladys, & grynd mace an pepir in, & caste there to & let boyle alle y-fere ; & dresse uppe-on a clothe...
500gms Beef mince
100 gms Pork mince
Handful fresh parsley, chopped
2 cups of breadcrumbs
1 cup of milk
Half a cup of walnuts
1 tsp Ground nutmeg
Fry the beef and pork together with the spices until brown. Strain any water or oil away, and place in a bowl with the breadcrumbs, and nuts and mix. Beat the eggs and milk together and add to the mix. Pour into a lasagne tray, loosely cover with foil and bake for 40-50 minutes until a knife comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly before slicing.
For the Sauce
Pinch of saffron
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter
125mls double cream
Melt the butter in the pan and add the flour (this is not strictly 1300s method, but I didn't have the thickening agent they used, rice flour, and so I made a rue...!). Stir in the cream and add the saffron. Stir until the sauce is a nice shade of yellow and thick.
Serve the meat custard with new potatoes and haricot beans, fried in oil. Top with plenty of sauce.