I got lucky! I managed to get a beautiful shoulder of mutton locally. This is a rare treat.

While mutton has a reputation for strong flavor and aroma, I find this to be misleading. The meat has a distinctive flavor, yes, as opposed to the bland meats of the supermarket, but the flavor is in fact a component of the dish, rather than an obstacle to be overcome. We don’t need to season as assertively if the foods we are working with bring plenty to the table.

I love mutton.

.  I had a shoulder, not a thigh. Thigh is the same cut as leg of lamb, minus the shank. Leg has more meat and simpler carving, and less intramuscular fat. Surface fat is where stronger flavors tend to lie, so peel off any fat that has yellowing to it, no matter what cut you may have. Shoulder is a bit of a bear, as it has all kinds of bones and things going through it, it’s the tough end of a tough animal. It takes some care to carve, but with a little patience pays off quite nicely. A major modern advantage is that a shoulder fits pots more easily. Please don’t get one of those boneless legs of lamb in a net, they are not going to offer enough in the way of flavor to be worth the cost.

Beef or veal fat is suggested as the cooking grease because sheep fat sets at a low temperature, causing objectionable texture. It’s important to peel off that surface fat. Hand it to a soapmaker if you are uncomfortable discarding it.

This translation is from http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Medieval/Cookbooks/Menagier/Menagier.html

Item MUTTON PIE in a POT. Take a thigh (of mutton), and grease or marrow of beef or veal chopped small and onions chopped small, and set to boil and cook in a well-covered pot in a small amount of meat stock or other liquid, then put to boil in it spices, and a little vinegar to sharpen it, and arrange it in a dish.

Item, if you want to salt mutton in hot weather, moisten beforehand, and sprinkle with coarse ground salt.

 

1 leg (or shoulder) of mutton (goat, lamb, venison), about 4 lbs including bone.

2-3 baseball sized onions, cut to a fine dice

1/4 lb suit, optional

a quart of good stock or broth

1 TBSP salt

1 tsp grains of paradise

1/4 stick cinnamon, or a quarter teaspoon

heads off about a dozen cloves, or about a quarter teaspoon of ground cloves

1/4 c red wine vinegar

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Choose a pot with a well fitting lid, that the meat will fit snugly. A slow cooker is an excellent option for this dish.

Place the meat, onions, and stock in the pot. Add suet if you feel you ought to add some fat to the dish. This will help temper the mutton flavor.  (I did not add fat)

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Seethe on a low flame with the lid on for approximately two hours, then add the spices to the pot. Add about half of the vinegar at this time as well.

Continue cooking for another 30-45 minutes. The meat ought to be rather tender and fully cooked to the falling-off the bone stage.
Remove the meat, reserving the cooking liquid. Taste for balance, add more vinegar and reboil, if needed.

If the sauce is too greasy, you might use a gravy separator, float a towel on top to absorb, or carefully drag an ice cube across the surface to quickly set the fat, making it easier to remove.

Allow to cool, slice, serve. with the sauce made of cooking liquid.

 

I chose my spices based on what blends are common in the book, what would taste nice together, and what I believe would play nicely with the flavors inherent in the onions and meat. You may choose your spices differently. For instance, the dish Yellow Mutton calls for saffron, ginger and verjus, while another note says that if venison is basted, it may be served with cameline, which implies to me that a poached dish should specifically not be served with cameline. Other notes in the manuscript say that in summer use saffron, but in winter use pepper.  I feel my choices to be internally consistent, and successful.

I cannot grind my cloves as finely as commercially available. I would use commercially ground cloves, or perhaps stick whole cloves into one section of onion in order to more easily remove them later.

The onions as I presented them were not chopped finely enough. I suggest making them about the size of modern gambling dice.

While this has little to do with our modern understanding of pie, lacking crust and being a very simple pot stew, it is not roasted before seething, nor after. The meat is intended to be cooked once, so it must be cooked fully.

 

 http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Medieval/Cookbooks/Menagier/Menagier.html 

Mushrooms of one night be the best and they be little and red within and closed at the top; and they must be peeled and then washed in hot water and parboiled and if you wish to put them in a pasty add oil , cheese and spice powder.

It’s autumn. I want easy hot lunch food that tastes nice. Mushrooms are technically out of season, but they are commonly available at any time of year now, and as I am unwilling to risk health foraging at a store is as far as I am willing to go.

Having decided to make this dish as hand pies, I had to consider the cheese. There being so few flavors, I did not want to compete with the fine spices nor the delicate flavor of the farmed mushrooms themselves. I decided that ricotta would be too wet, Camembert too gummy, and chose a queso fresco, which is like farmer cheese which has been pressed to a somewhat drier consistency.

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“Baby Bellas,” criminis,  were looking freshest, with the closed gills asked for in the recipe. Other mushrooms with other values of flavor would have been just as good, though perhaps suggesting more thought to the seasoning.

I sliced the mushrooms and poached them with the spices and salt, then decided to mince them for better texture.  I think they would have suffered had I minced them first, as mushrooms can tend to become either slippery or rubbery.

 

1 lb fresh small mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed

1/2-1 tsp poudre fine

1/4-1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4-1 tsp salt, depending on the saltiness of the cheese

1/4 c water

1-2 TBS olive oil

6-12 oz queso fresco, farmers’ cheese, or other fresh cheese

10 hand-pie wrappers of your preference. (I chose to use commercial empanada wrappers)

 

 

Taste cheese for saltiness and liquidity, set aside

Slice mushrooms.

Place mushrooms in pan with water, simmer on low until reduced in size and liquid is dark

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Add spices and salt if you are using it

Mince mushrooms if you wish.

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Allow to cool

Fold in cheese. Include any mushroom liquid which has not absorbed or evaporated

Place two ounces of the mixture on each wrapper, fold them over, and seal the edges.

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Bake at 325-350 for 10 minutes, then puncture the tops to prevent explosions

Continue baking til wrappers are browning. The filling is fully cooked, so don’t worry too much about it.

When mine had finished baking,  I brushed the tops with a little butter, You might like

to use an egg white, or to leave them plain.

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This is my Poudre Douce recipe, which I used in place of poudre fine.

1 Tbs sugar
½ Tbs cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
¼ tsp ginger

Mustards!

	I took all of the books I could find, and used all of the mustard recipes 
I could within them.

	If I missed some, please mention it so I can go back.

	Some books didn't have any, and some were harder to find or identify than others.
a stack of several books, two jars of mustard seed, several vinegars.

This project took some preparation,
and was a lot of fun.

	My first order of business was to set basic concepts and ground rules for the project. 
With the plan being to use a dozen mason jars, I decided to
  • use whole mustard wherever I could, and grind it. stick with yellow mustard for flavor
  • limit myself to one ounce of seed per jar where possible,
  • not use salt unless called for specifically (it never was)
  • comparison unless brown were specified
  • start them all at the same time, rather than trying to get them to finish at the same time

On to the books.
Guter Spise had mustard as an ingredient, but not as a result.

NeapolitanRecipe 32; 
Not a "mustard," but it is called one.
 Not being a condiment, this will happen another day.

	Recipe 121: Mustard seed soaked in wine or must. 
The description is what passes for scathing, the author seems to have considered this a
 required waste of ink.
 As for flavor, it's simply an acidic whole-grain mustard. 
Grinding the seed, allowing it to mature for some months in a cool room,
 and serving with a cheese course make perfect sense to my palate.

	Recipe 122: Start by steeping the seeds, 
then blend with blanched almonds and must syrup or verjus, then strain, thicken, and add spices if so desired.
  	In steeping, the seeds doubled in size and absorbed about 150% of their dry weight in water.
 Aroma is cheeselike, but it is quite mellow, and would be lovely with cheese, 
dried fruit, or with poultry. It's honestly a lot more pleasant than expected.
        I made the “must” variant, using must from a local vinegar shop.

	Recipe 123: balled mustard for trips. First soak the seeds 
(again, 150% absorption rate) then grind with raisins and spices, form into a ball, and dehydrate on a board. 
This is to be used on the road. To use it, grate it into "verjus or must or wine or vinegar."
	A mortar and pestle was the only functional tool for this, as the spice/coffee grinder 
could not get to the seeds. The wet mustard mixture was too sticky to bounce around enough to get smacked up.
	I added the cinnamon and raisins, and crushed the mustard bit by bit until the
 raisins were no longer visible. Then I rolled the mass into little balls and allowed them to dry in a warm drafty spot for two days.

Libellus de arte coquinaria;P 87, Recipe 8 Another Sauce;
 I passed on this one, as it was too similar to a couple of others and I am low on seeds.

	P. 88, Recipe 9 Another One; This one is fun. It calls for the seeds to be
 ground with honey, cinnamon, and anise. The honey really helped in the mortar and pestle, it kept the little seeds from bouncing 
around so much.  Smells great. I added an ounce of plain red wine which has vinegared on the counter, which it
 absorbed quickly. Being done and marked as being "good for three months," I will check and add more vinegar 
if needed.
 Flavorwise a week later, the mustard strength is tempered by cinnamon, not as sharp, has a backbite. 
Good for smoked meats, ham. It's deep dark and earthy, yet refined.

Goodman of ParisP 188 Sauces Not Boiled; There are two listed in
 one notation, one for making mustard to be used at once, the other for when you have time to allow it to mature.
 I chose to work with the "At Leisure" variety.  It very simply calls for the seeds to be soaked in vinegar overnight,
 ground, then have any spices left from making spiced wine added. Not only is this frugal, it seems it
 would add lovely complementary flavor. 

	P 196 has the recipe for hippocras, which gives proportions of
 spices to be added. I do not use ginger, and have no galangale, so I used the cinnamon, grain of paradise, and nutmegs, 
soaked them in wine overnight as well to emulate the "used and discarded" bit, and folded them in the next day.
 The blend being very tight (dry), I added some of the seasoned wine as well.  On tasting, it was a bit generic and acidic,
 though the spices did add some depth.

	P 195; About halfway down this page of preserving foods is a mustard recipe as a 
sub-recipe for preserving root vegetables.
 It starts by asking for "for every 500 nuts", which gave me a key for weights and measures.
I worked out that 500 almonds is just about 16 ounces, and that the measure in use at the time was nominally 12 ounces.
 This made working out the measures of spices far easier.
	I added the anise, coriander, and caraway, but have no fennel seed.  All of this went into a processor,
 which didn't help much. When I added the vinegar it started to work, and eventually I got something smoother.
 It absorbed almost all of the liquid right away.
	There is a note to add horseradish at the end of this recipe, I am not yet decided 
whether I will.
 It appeard to be to be a note to add this to the full recipe for preserving root vegetables, 
rather than to the subrecipe for the mustard portion. (a question mark)
	On tasting, we agreed that this is much better as an ingredient than a separate sauce, 
it wanted and lacked the depth and lushness of the other items involved in making a proper compost.
 I will make it again when I have root vegetables to preserve, and judge it again.

Sent Sovip 81 Recipe XIX; I was tired of the mortar and pestle, 
and the processor isn't good at little seeds. I tried a sesame-seed mill, it nominally worked.
 At least it hulled the seeds, if not actually breaking them down to powder.
 	I cracked the seeds and poured hot water over them. Then I strained them and did it again. 
I could not grind the seeds (I am done in), but did fold in the same weight chicken broth as dry mustard seeds. 
I added a tenth part honey, as those recipes with proportions of sweetener seem to work out to 1:10 sweetener:mustard by dry weight.
	Being blanched and not having vinegar at all, I am quite curious as to how this one will work out. 

	On tasting, we agree that this was a waste of mustard seeds. Flavorless and lacking in any character, 
we kind of felt let down.
 	There is a comment in Sent Sovi on making French mustard just as there is in Neapolitan, 
but not only does the author reserve personal opinion, there is a suggestion to add fruit syrup.
I let that one pass.
 
English Housewife
         mentions mustards, but the tastiest looking one is meant as a poultice for sciatica.
 (not to imply that it looked tasty!)
Cury on Inglisch 
	p 131 recipe 150 Lumbard Mustard; Finding this one is hard. 
I find this book to the the most frustrating of all of them to hunt through, it's a combination of the organisation and the fonts.
 	Grind the seeds, I whacked them with a meat-flattener, then switched to a rolling pin. 
Eventually I had to admit defeat, half of the mustard weight is powdered. I added the honey, the wine and the vinegar, 
and must thin it with wine at use.  HOT! Horseradishy. Awesome for sausages, smoked meats, or ham, 
it has all of the characteristics we desire from a spicy mustard. 

Martino; The Art of Cooking
	P 135: Just as scathing as Neapolitan's comment,
 this one simply remarks on French mustard "It is merely thinned with bitter or sodden wine. This is French mustard- for what it's worth."
 ooh, spiteful!

	The recipe on 78 for "Red or Violet mustard" is for the plant, not the seeds, and not a condiment but a dish.

 Two weeks later, I went back to check on them all.
several
 pint canning jars of different mustards, all labeled.

keeping things orderly

	Neapolitan Recipe 121 About the same; this would be a fine base for a mustard,
 but it isn't by any means usable in this state.

	Neapolitan Recipe 122 Fermented and grey, I think this was best at three days.
 I stand by my suggestion for service with a cheese plate with dried fruit.

	Neapolitan Recipe 123
	Libellus de arte coquinaria;  P 88 Still pleasant,
 but nothing to write home about. This did not live up to expectations, sadly.

	Goodman of Paris P 188 Way past prime, unfortunately. 
I think a week in the fridge is all it is good for. It is uninteresting, 
particularly compared to how rich and pleasant some of the others are.
 Goodman of Paris P 195 It got funky (musty smelling.) I will make this in the fall when I have root veg out of the garden.

	Sent Sovi p 81 About the same, but still less than interesting. 
Thin and plain.

	Cury on Inglisch p 131 Has lost nothing of it's charm. 
It is a good and interesting option. We used it up first.
 REVISITING NEAPOLITAN 123
 There were some interesting points on this one.
From one ounce of mustard seed I have two ounces of completed mustard balls. They are quite light and airy from the hulls
 of the mustard being so coarse.
 They have a lovely aroma, and look quite sensibly portable.
superball-sized balls drying on a paper towels
They took about two days to dry properly
 After drying on the counter for several days, I decided to test a couple of variables.

 I placed three balls each in separate jars, and covered each with 10x its weight in liquid.
 One was steeped in red wine, one in red wine vinegar, and one in verjus. 

 12 hours later, I looked in on them, they had not dissolved, but had soaked up some liquid.

 The Vinegar one I mashed with all it's liquid, it was far too runny.
 The Verjus, I poured off all but a volume equivalent to the still-whole ball, and mashed. Still too runny, 
though a useful consistency.
 The plain wine, I poured off all of the liquid, and mashed just the ball. It was a slight bit thick, very spreadable. 

 My suggestion is to soak with enough liquid to cover, separate, mash, and add back the used soaking liquid as 
needed for the consistency you prefer.

 Flavors and aromas were slightly different, though the character was similar enough between the three to be functionally interchangeable. 

 The wine had the most heat and sweetness, the verjus was sharpest, and the vinegar was pretty well balanced
 between the two.
A half hour later, the sweetness lingers.