Hello.  My name is John Marshall ate Forde.

cheese bag

I am a cook both in and outside of the SCA, and the apprentice brother of Maestra Asa, who has invited me to share some of my thoughts on food with her readers.  You can find more of my writing at Flour Yeast Salt (just add water) and more about me in the SCA at John Marshall.

As part of a dish I’m working on for River Wars that we’re calling Medieval Risotto , I’m going to need Chicken Stock, lots of Chicken Stock.

On Friday, Weis Markets had a meat sale and was offering whole chickens for $0.77 a pound.  So I stocked up.

I cut four chickens in half, loaded them into my two biggest stock pots and cooked them with carrots, onions (unpeeled), celery, bay leaf, parsley and peppercorns and covered it all with water.  I brought both pots up to a simmer and let them go for about two hours.

After the two hours were up, I strained the stock, then reduced it down to under two gallons of liquid.  Once the stock was nicely reduced, I loaded it into quart mason jars and put them into a pressure canner.

After loading up the pot, two inches of hot (around 180 degrees) water was added and the lid was clamped on.

I put the flame up to high and per the instructions in the Ball Blue Book, brought the pot up to a boil, let steam vent for 10 minutes and then put on the weight and brought the pressure up to 10 pounds.

Once the pressure had settled down, I processed the jars for 25 minutes.

As a side note, it’s very important when canning to follow the recipes exactly, in order to insure food safety.

When the time was  up, I turned off the heat and let the pressure drop to zero.  5 minutes later, I carefully removed the weight, unclamped the lid and let the opened pot sit for another 10 minutes.  After that, I removed the very hot jars and let them cool overnight.

Shelf stable and awaiting the next step…

I injured myself, and have been working on rehab. No parts missing, but still, it’s meant a lot of bed-rest for the past many weeks.

Thanks for your patience.

 

In the meantime, I would like to introduce John Marshall, of  flouryeastsalt . He will be posting some thoughts here while I finish up healing.

John is a talented cook, and a very fine bread baker. I like cooking with him a lot, he’s got an easy way in a kitchen that makes him a pleasure to work with.

Please keep the comments coming!

In the morning take a chicken that was killed the night before and skin it without hot water so the skin does not tear, then eviscerate it and from that spot begin the skinning, pulling it back up to the neck; then cook the meat without the skin; when it is cooked, take the breast and grind it up thoroughly with a little cheese, parsley, marjoram and other fragrant herbs, and mix this into the chicken breast and grind it all again with a little cloves, pepper, cinnamon, saffron and a little veal fat; and mix everything together, adding in two eggs; make this mixture a little on the soft side. Then get a carafe big enough to hold a chicken or capon, and see that the mouth of the carafe is rather wide; then stuff the chicken skin and sew it where you cut it; stick its feet into the carafe and have its neck stick out of the neck of the carafe -for, before inserting the skin, you should make sure that the carafe will be big enough to hold [the whole of the stuffed skin]; if it is big enough, stuff the chicken through its neck which will be sticking out of the neck of the carafe, but do not overstuff it; then tie up the neck and let the chicken swell to take up the space in the carafe; then settle the chicken properly in the carafe by means of a stick; fill the carafe with slightly salted water, and set the carafe to boil inside a cauldron or else gently by the fire-but it would really be better to fill a cauldron with water and boil it, and then, or before it boils, to set the carafe in it; it will be cooked in an hour’s time; send it off to be served, leaving to those whose job it is the weighty problem of carving it up.

Last week, I putjust the leg into a carafe, this week, I put a whole chicken, boneless, and farced (minced) into one.

The dish is functionally a galantine, or meatloaf in a chicken skin. I used to do something similar when I was a kid, but it is a lot of work, so I got out of the habit.

First, find a chicken worth working with. A supermarket bird will be challenging, the fresher the bird the easier it will be to skin without tearing. If you can manage a farm market bird, it will be least difficult.

To skin a chicken, start from the larger end. Oil your hands if you must. Keep it all chilled, and move slowly.

Modern methods usually include skinning the legs, but cutting off the wings joints and leaving them attached to the skin, which is what I did.

When the chicken has been skinned, poach the meat, then mince it and blend with the other ingredients. I kept the skin in a zip bag in the fridge, had I needed to store it for more than an hour, I would have put it in saltwater.

I blended the herbs, spices and cheese, fat, and eggs together while poaching in order to get a sense of my proportions as I minced the meat.

After filling the skin, I stitched it shut with linen thread, and placed it in my carafe. I made certain the neck tube stuck out of the carafe in order to allow the filling to steam and not draw in the salt water it was about to cook in.

I placed the carafe in a larger pot of water, and set it to simmer. The water steamed down and needed to be replenished fairly often, which was a hassle.

While I began the dish with saltwater in my carafe, I did not replenish with saltwater, as I did not wish to add more salt to the dish. A quarter cup total, all in the brine, was quite sufficient for my (lower salt preference) tastes.

While the recipe expected the product to be cooked in an hour, and the filling was set enough for eggs to be safe, the skin of the chicken did not set enough to be food safe, so I had to leave it on the stove longer, and contemplated using a torch to finish, though that would have ruined the appearance and texture. I will sacrifice a lot for food safety.

Having the saltwater up over the whole chicken did not help with this problem, nor did raising the temperature.

In the end, only letting it continue to seethe for several hours, til the contents reached a solid 160, was the only solution. Though the meat was cooked prior to stuffing, the skin had been raw.

On completion, I allowed the meat to cool in the vessel. It had shrunk considerably, making it no trouble at all to remove from my vessel, though it is not radically shaped.

The dish could have used more binding cheese, but it would have lost some of the poultry intensity.

It’s particularly nice if your diners are on a soft diet.

A couple of years ago, I did Recipe 18, a “lasagna” using chicken skin as the noodles. It seems that may have been a usage of the skin if the cook tore it past stitching up well. That dish, I do not recommend.

 

1 whole chicken, preferably with the neck tube intact, preferably extremely fresh

2 yards undyed, food safe linen

1/4 c fresh cheese; farmers, ricotta, etc, or, in a pinch, extra chicken fat

1/8 c veal fat or chicken fat, or, in a pinch, extra cheese. Not salt pork.

2 eggs

Up to a half cup of fresh herbs, mostly parsley and marjoram, or a teaspoon of each. Tarragon works nicely, as do minced garlic scapes.

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp saffron

1 tsp pepper

Do not salt.

Skin Chicken. Set skin aside carefully, break carcass, poach meat and bones.

Separately, make a brine of a quart of water and a quarter cup of salt.

While poaching, blend the herbs, seasonings, cheese, fat and eggs.

Strip meat, cool and mince.

Fold in egg mixture. Look for a texture a bit like thick pancake batter.

Place the chicken mixture in the chicken, sew up the chicken.

Place the galantine in a vessel not much bigger than it, with the neck tube facing up.

Place the vessel in a larger vessel, pour water as high as you can.

Put the saltwater in the smaller vessel.

Place a snug lid overtop.

Simmer til thermometer reads 160.
Allow to cool for a reasonable period of time, extricate from the vessel,

Slice carefully, serve.  Serve the poaching broth separately, it is quite salty.

 

 

Get a chicken and cut it up very small and put it in a carafe with a little rosewater and a little whole cinnamon; put this carafe in a cauldron full of water and boil it; when the cauldron boils, make sure the carafe is fastened and sealed: put something on it that holds it down steady in the water; in order to know how the meat in the carafe is, put a chicken foot to cook in the cauldron: when this is cooked, so will the rest be; then take out the carafe and pour out the juice in it, and serve it to be drunk or else eaten together with the cooked meat, with sugar on top. This is no food for your mouth, my dear cook!

Broth with a side of condescending! The end comment about “no food for your mouth” seems to refer to the very meager result of the process. There isn’t enough for the cook to taste.
I used a chicken wing instead of a foot as my timer, this was an error. The foot usually cooks in about three hours, this dish took about three hours. The wing was done in 40 minutes.
The water in the pipkin my carafe sat in boiled down a few times, I had to top it up.
I used dough as the sealant. A hot-water pie crust would have worked better than the yeasted dough I did have excess of. This was to keep the steam inside, as the main intent of the dish is juices, and the only source of those is the meat. If the steam escaped, the entire dish would have been a failure.
We used silicone rubber bands to hold the carafe tight to the pipkin, but it turned out not to be required, the carafe was heavy enough.
After all of those hours, the result was a very simple, very bland, not overly intense chicken broth, perfectly suitable for someone frail. It struck me as a lovingly crafted dish designed to nourish a very ill person. There was less than a half cup.
While it was an interesting exercise, it was also not at this juncture overly valuable. The best part of it was enjoying using my lovely pipkin.

Scully, Terence. Cuoco Napoletano: The Neapolitan Recipe Collection (New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, MS Bühler, 19) : A Critical Edition and English Translation. Ann Arbor, Mich.: U of Michigan, 2000. 192. Print.

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I have been busy making dishes and vessels, working in the garden, and using up winter stores.

This kiln is soda fired, which is the legal modern analog to period salt firing (by no means the only method of firing pottery, but a significant one.)

Salt is frowned upon because it releases chloride, in the form of chlorine gas. This is a negative situation for lungs.

We used a baking soda borax blend similar to the flux I use in blacksmithing for forge welding.

This was a group project sponsored by a local master potter, and which I look forward to being involved with again in the future.

My contribution to the pot luck was a Bolognese Torte, made with ricotta cheese. It went over quite well.

Next week, I will know if any of my wares have survived.

Bolognese Torte. Get a pound of new cheese and of old cheese, and grate it; get well cleaned chard, parsley and marjoram, and beat them as much as you can with a knife and fry them in a little good butter, then take them out; get four eggs, saffron and a good lot of pepper, and lard or good butter, and mix everything together; make a thin pastry crust on the bottom of the pan and put this mixture in it; have another crust on top, or else get buffalo cheese, cut it into strips and cover the mixture with it instead of a crust. Note that it should have a good smell of pepper, and cook it slowly; when the upper crust puffs up – I mean, rises – then it is done.

  Note: This is an incomplete process. Normally I would only post something I have hammered into submission, but life has intervened.

 I did this two different ways, for curiosity and as planning for an upcoming dinner. I made a traditionally understood pie as well as a yeast dough “torta” more closely resembling what we understand as a white pizza.

I was unable to locate marjoram, and mine is not grown enough to use, so I substituted oregano, which is somewhat similar in profile.

Traditional deep pie; I prepared a cold crust, blended the “old”, or parmesan cheese with the “new” farmers cheese, and added the herbs and egg. I thought about frying the herbs and spinach, but it is 80* out, and I thought there might be a limit to my tolerance for richness. I used a smaller, but proportional quantity; a half pound of the cheeses, 2 eggs, and so on. I have minimal access to worthy Buffalo mozzarella, so the regular varietal of fresh had to do.  I used frozen spinach, and should have dried it out more thoroughly. Sauteeing in the butter as the instructions guided would have solved this issue. Silly me.

For the second iteration, I used a yeasted dough, and went for a more minimalist approach. I layered the cheeses, first  the farmers, then the parmesan. I then seasoned the cheeses, layered on the greens, seasoned again, and layered on the mozzarella. It was a lovely white pie, but suffered from the cheeses and herbs being separate.

 

IMG_5291The classic iteration is perfect for a small dinner, but I believe it to be too rich to be a regular thing. It is pretty difficult to eat at room temp. A little goes a very long way.

1 pie crust

1 bag chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed hard, or 2 lbs fresh spinach, minced

1 large bunch parsley, minced

1 bunch or marjoram (sub oregano if marjoram is a challenge)

1/4 stick of butter

6 oz farmers’ cheese

6 oz Parmeggiano Reggiano, grated

8 oz  fresh mozzarrella

2 eggs

1 TBS black pepper

Please note that while I love saffron, I did not use it. I am not fully satisfied with the results, and don’t want to use saffron til I am certain of the dish.

Blend the Parmeggiano and the farmers’ cheese. Season. Set aside.

Blend the greens, sautee in the butter. Allow to cool.

Blend the cheeses and the herbs,

Press the herbed cheese blend into the pie shell. Lay the mozzarella on top. Bake til the cheeses are fully melted, and the mozzarella and crust are golden brown. Serve.

The cheeses I used were rather lemony and bright. Saffron would mellow and darken this flavor nicely, I will use it after I get the moisture levels where I want them.

 

IMG_5290The simplified version was actually more problematic, due to very moist spinach.. I did not get the crisp crust I had hoped for. I deleted the eggs, butter, and saffron in this iteration.

1 half sheet

1 ball of pizza dough, stretched to shape

1/2 lb farmers cheese, dotted evenly on the crust

1/2 lb parmeggiano reggiano, sprinkled about

1 TBS black pepper,

 

1/2 lb frozen spinach, well wrung.

2 oz minced parsley,

1 bunch stripped marjoram (I used oregano, supply issues)

Mozzarella, sliced and layered nicely on top.

Bake until done at about 400*.

 

I will be making some adjustments.

a whole roasted chicken in a pot, about to be carved

When I was a kid, Mom would splash out on a capon once or twice a year. They are almost impossible to get now, because modern farm practices are not lending to that kind of breeding, but I have had them, and can keep in mind the qualities I seek in a bird

This recipe is so simple and minimal, with so little else going on, that the quality of the meat almost entirely dictates the result of the dish. This being the beginning of farmers’ market season in my area, I have access to meat fine enough to stand up to this recipe.

Choose a bird that fits your soup pot. Always keep in mind the vessels you must use to prepare your food in. Get the nicest possible bird. Any will be good, but having had exceptional, I would like you to enjoy it as much as we did.

Blanching the chicken causes the skin to become terribly fragile. It rips at the merest glance.

I lifted my chicken out of the poach by inserting a long spatula in each end. It is very important to drain as you lift, it can be dangerous and messy if the water inside the bird spills.

Having used many types of fat for larding over the years, our best results were from thinly sliced unsalted leaf fat. Chicken fat has too low a melt point, salted fat alters the flavor and texture of the skin and meat.Neapolitan Roast Chicken (2)

  To make a Fine Roast of capons, cockerels, goat kid, and any other meat. First, if it is a large joint of meat, put it to boil unless it is young veal; if it is capon or any other meat that is worth setting to roast, make it clean, then plunge it into boiling water and take it out immediately and put it into cold water -that is done to make it better; then lard it with good lardo and mount it on the spit, cooking it slowly; then, when it is almost done, get a grated piece of bread and mix it with salt and coat the meat. In this way you will have it cooked fine.

1 large roasting chicken, well cleaned.

1 pot of water, simmering (with head room for the mass of the chicken)

3-4 oz thinly sliced leaf fat or sliced chilled chicken fat

3 oz breadcrumbs (home made)

salt

other seasonings you might like.

Blanch the chicken. It really does matter. If you have never done it before, please take the effort to try it once. It was done for humoural reasons (making a “hot dry” bird “cool moist” before roasting  “hot dry”)

Place the chicken in the roasting vessel, reserve the poaching water.

Lay the fat overtop of the skin. Maybe tuck a couple of pieces under the skin. I did, and I am glad, but be careful.

Place the unsalted chicken in the oven and roast til it is very nearly done.

Season the breadcrumbs while the chicken roasts. Use at least salt,

When you can smell it, pull the chicken out and sprinkle it liberally with the breadcrumbs.

Pop it back into the oven for the last 10-15 minutes, then when you pull it for the last time, allow it to rest for 15 minutes.

Carve and serve, placing the carcass in the poaching pot to make a lovely broth for future use.

I hope your dinner is as lovely as mine.

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66 A game pie
Take beef fat, and chop it small, and rosemary, which can be fresh or dried. If you have none, take marjoram or anise or sage, as much as you would like. Chop them finely together, put cloves, pepper, ginger and salt into it, as much as you would like, pour one pint of wine on it. The game must be cooked beforehand. And make a shaped pastry the same way as for the veal pie, and let it bake, serve it warm. In this manner one can also prepare a loin roast.

Yes, another leftover pie!

I adapted this ever so slightly; larger cubes of beef, and an onion stood in for the beef fat. It’s an herb, right?

Definitely use leftover beef from a roast, or brown some cubes as I did, without dredging in flour first.

IMG_5271

2 lbs beef

1/4 lb beef fat or 1 small onion

1/2 T sage

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp ginger (I don’t use this often)

1-2 c wine

2 pie crusts, or a hot water coffyn crust, or what you will. Blind bake if you wish, it is a wet dish

Season the beef with the dry spices.

Prepare the pie crust.

Layer fat (or onion) beef, then fat, then beef

Lay the Sprinkle the wine overtop of the pie contents

Close up the top and bake.

 

 

Web. 20 Apr. 2015. <http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Medieval/Cookbooks/Sabrina_Welserin.html>.