Wednesday, January 10, 2018

To Seethe Hennes in Winter in White Sauce

Continuing with my Twelfth Night menu, here's my first attempt at a late 16th century dish, from The good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin (1594):
How to seeth Hennes and Capons in Winter in white broth. 
Take a necke of mutton and a marrowe bone, and let them boile with the Hens together, then take Carret rootes and put them into the potte, and then straine a litle bread to thicke the pot with all and not too thicke: season it with Pepper and Uergious, and then couer them close, and then let them boile together, then cut sops and put the broth and the marrow aboue, and so serue them.
I changed two things: omitting the mutton neck as I could not find one, and substituting white wine for the vergious (an alternative given in "to boyle chickens or capon").  I did have some beef marrow bones on hand, and threw them in with the chicken to boil.  The carrots were added later, along with bread crumbs, pepper, and eventually the white wine.

To Seethe Hennes in Winter in White Sauce, 1594
Hen seething in white sauce.

Lacking sorrell, gooseberries, and time (ha), I used plain bread for the sops, forgoing the fancier flavored toast that is specified for chickens:
To make Sops for Chickens. 
First take Butter, and melt it vpon a chafingdish with coales, and lay in the dish thinne tostes of breade, and make Sorrell sauce with Uergious and Gooseberries, seeth them with a litle Uergious and lay them vppon.
With all the departures, this was definitely more of a learning experience/experiment than a proper historic dish.  That being said, it wasn't bad: the flavor was a bit bland, and to my modern tastes, it could definitely use some salt. The sauce was also rather runny, so I suspect there was too much liquid in it at the end.  The bread crumbs used for thickening the sauce were not quite to my taste.

I would certainly consider trying this dish again in the future, ideally with the proper ingredients to get the proper taste of it.

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