two slices of beef pot roast in a brown bowl, with several cubes of cooked turnip and a pile of cooked, shredded beet greens about the size of a peach.

Of Turnips

Togli rape bullite colle foglie, e polle a cocere con carne di bue, e pepe, e cruoco. E quando sono cotte, le poni in scudelle per la comune famiglia.

Turnips (rape).
[32] Take turnips (rape) boiled with their leaves, and set them to cook with beef, and pepper, and saffron.  And when they are cooked, put them on plates for the common family.

It has been so very long.

I broke my knee quite spectacularly. It’s been well over a year and a half, and now, at last, I can cook and show again.

I have missed this tremendously. Thank you for waiting.

In autumn, today, just as through history, beef becomes affordable. Herds are thinned of their non-breeding stock, non-milkers, and excess numbers, so the feed stores put away all summer will be sufficient.

At the same time, normally, root vegetables are being prepared for storage as human feed, and are at their very best.

Not having been able to garden at all has left me in the perfectly ordinary position of having to purchase vegetables, so I was unable to get turnips with their greens attached, and in fact, was unable to get really decent ones. These are acceptable.

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I got beets for another dish, and am using their greens here, supplemented with a little chive for some sharp bite.

I selected a shallow ceramic vessel with a good lid to cook this in, to allow the items to fit closely.

The order in which the instructions are written suggest boiling the turnips, then adding them to a vessel with the beef, rather than cooking them together.

In not instructing to add the beef to the boiling pot, it’s not instructing me to boil. In telling me to cook the turnip with the beef, I cannot roast, as I cannot skewer turnips, I could fry, but that is not specified, and likely would be. Other dishes in the book call for what appears to be adding beef to moist, cooked items and “set to cook” which usually means near coals.

There is no guidance to add liquid, so I did not add liquid.

Adding seasonings to the vegetables after placing them with the meat brings me back to thinking about the cookery of vegetables in large pots, and keeping them separate. I often consider whether it is more likely to cook many items in one pot, separated by perhaps a sack or by binding, or whether each item in a larger kitchen would have its own pot, own place by the fire, even if just boiling.

I cook tonight’s greens separately, then add more water to cook the roots. While I believe the greens are intended to cook while still attached to the roots, therefore for a decent while, these are beet greens which are more delicate, and I prefer them this way. They were chiffonade cut.

of-turnips-4

I cut the roots small (fork size) to cook, also for personal preference. I pulled out (most of) the greens, and missed a little. They will be in the oven for some time cooking with the beef, so whole turnips would work just fine if that is your preference.

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The beef has no instruction or modifiers. Not what part, not rich or lean, nor large or hewn to pieces. I went large. It was on sale. It’s a nice chuck roast. My proportions of meat to vegetables in the pot are entirely inverse to those of pretty much any propriety, but we want leftover meat for other meals.

This is to be served with a crusty loaf, sliced thinly. The broth will reappear soon, in another dish.

The results; The vessel, vegetables, and meat combined together to cause enough liquid in the dish to comfortably braise it in the pot. Upon chilling, this became a dense aspic.

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The meat became a lovely pot roast. The turnips picked up the flavors of the meat nicely, the beef adopted a little of the horseradishy bite of the turnip.

I did not use enough pepper, though the salt balance worked out well for hot service. I think it will need more for cold use. The saffron was utterly lost.

Original text is held at

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/33954/33954-h/33954-h.htm

The translation work by Ariane Helou at https://renaissancefood.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/an-anonymous-tuscan-cookery-book/

is solidly reliable (so far) and I am happy to suggest others may find great value at her site.

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