Curye on Inglisch 38

I don’t like rice.

I’ll eat it, but I won’t go out of my way for it. It just isn’t my thing.

One of the recipes that seems to find its way into more cookbooks than any other is blancmange. Rice. This does not  inspire excitement.

However, it’s as  economical as it is pervasive, using broth, almonds, rice, and leftover chicken picked off of the bones, or when made especially for a particular diner, only a little of the breast of a capon.

As much as I don’t love rice, it would be disingenious to avoid making this dish.

I had lots of reference sources available. Some call for verjus, others for pikefish, and a large variety of spices.

I used this iteration from Curye on Inglisch.

38 Blank maunger. Take capouns and seeth them, thenne take hem vp; take almaundes blaunched, grynd hem &alay hem vp with the same broth. Cast the mylk in a pot. Waisshe rys and do thereto, and lat it seeth; thane take the brawn of the capouns, teese it small and do therto. Take white grece, sugur and salt, and cast therinne. Lat it seeth; thenne messe it forth and florissh ot with aneys in confyt, red other whyt, and with almaundes fryed in oyle, and serue it forth. (p106)

 

  • Take capons and seethe them-poach a chicken and make some broth.
  • Make almond milk using that broth.
  • Simmer rice in the chicken-almond milk
  • Add shredded chicken. Specifically “teased”, not diced.
  • Add “white grece”
  • sugar and salt, and let it seethe.
  • Serve with a garnish of anise comfits and toasted almonds.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 16 ounces raw almonds, soaked overnight, peeled.
  • 1 quart of chicken broth, warmed
  • ¼ c chicken fat from the broth
  • 1 cup cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1 cup rice, soaked
  • ½ TBS salt
  • 1 TBS sugar

the assembled ingredients for the dish; chicken broth, peeled almonds, rice, chicken, sugar, salt

GEAR

basin to soak almonds

processor for almond milk

strainer for almond milk

pot to cook in (or rice cooker)

spatula

HOW TO

Set aside a dozen almonds for garnish.

Place the rest of the almonds in a processor or blender. Whiz til they are meal.

Add chicken broth, whiz to commingle well.

Strain and press solids,  set them aside for a future dish.

 

a food processor with almond milk being made with chicken stock.

There is not enough sp`the almond milk is no longer liquid, and risks burningace in this processor for the almond milk to be properly made, it must be transferred to a larger vessel to be completed.

  • Start by putting a couple of teaspoons of chicken fat into the cooking pot, and toast the almonds. Set them aside. Don’t wipe out the pot.
  • Place rice in the same pot, add almond milk. Watch the pot closely, as almond milk does not behave quite like water, and will cook out at a different rate. If your almond milk is depleted before your rice is done, supplement with broth, or if you are out of that as well, use water.
  • When the rice is done (or if you are clever, when the rice cooker dings) fold in the chicken and spices, and add chicken fat a tablespoon at a time until you are pleased with the mouthfeel and texture. Don’t skip the chicken fat step.
  • Place in a bowl or on a plate, garnish with toasted almonds, and serve. If you wish to use anise comfits, decorate with them as well.

NOTES

Every time I make a chicken, I save the bones to make broth.  I put the prior broth in a pot, warm it up, and add the bones. It gets richer, denser, and more flavorful every time. This dish would have been pretty insipid without the intensity of the broth, as it was the primary source of flavor.

I have read a lot of conflicting opinions on what rice was most likely used historically. I chose to use Arborio which I had on hand.

Skinning a pound of almonds took two hours. It’s fussy.

I put the almond and chicken mixture into a pot to warm together, because the processor could not hold enough liquid to make the almond milk. It worked out pretty well, as straining the almond milk is potentially messy.

I added my salt and sugar directly to the chicken meat in order to ensure the seasonings being evenly distributed. There’s more of a risk of over or under seasoning using this method.

The pot I used is not the best one for a dish like this. The squared off bottom corners invited sticking and burning, so I wound up stirring constantly. This worked out in my favor, as it wound up being accidental risotto.

Honestly, it was a good dish. I did not enjoy it, but only because I am still not partial to rice.
I was asked to serve it again, and I will. If haste is an issue, I may use both commercial almond milk and strong broth to create the depth of flavor, which would make this a 30 minute dish. It was a success.

If you wish to explore the very wide world of Medieval blancmanges, check out this link to the Medieval Cookery site; it’s a list of several. You are certain to find a type there that will work for you.

http://www.medievalcookery.com/search/display.html?fourm:36

 

Hieatt, C. B. (1985). Curye on Inglysch: English culinary manuscripts of the fourteenth century, including the “Forme of cury. London ; New York ; Toronto: Oxford university press

 

I think you may forgive me for terseness, the power is uncertain as I write.

a finished dish of chickpeas, pale against a dark bowl.

Serve in heavy pottery, to hold the heat.

Tender chickpeas, intended as fresh, new, uncooked, undried field produce, to be cooked in almond milk and seasonings.

 

I used canned chickpeas for lack of access to fresh ones, home-made almond milk, a poached onion, marjoram, savory, parsley, ginger, salt, and verjus.

bowls containing chick peas, a poached onion, almond milk and spices. Verjus and olive oil in bottles, and a pile of herbs and  salt.

the onion was simmered through beforehand.

It was a quick throw-together. Unfortunately, round one is kind of bland and un-interesting, as chickpeas flavor and almond milk’s flavor don’t do much to help each other out.

I’ll play with  a few other processes and get back to you.

in other news, it held for three days, and was perfectly pleasant cold

a pot of simmering almond milk with the chickpeas, to which a pile of minced herbs has been added but not yet stirred in.

be cautious not to burn or scorch

.

– boring

+ vegetarian,

+quick

+ cheap.

 

Robin, Vogelzang. The Book of Sent Sovi: Medieval recipes from Catalonia. Tamesis Books, 2008. 191. Print.

 

a poached chicken breast and white pottage in a brown bowl.

finally, my brown bowls look good!

For the next several months, I will be focusing on Sent Sovi, not only because I like it, but because I am working on a group project which it complements reasonably well.

Being that one of the most mentioned dishes across times and places historically was Blancmange, “white food,” I decided to bite the bullet and make this well known sick-person’s dish. It’s long been a shorthand for us that “white food” is food lacking in flavor or depth. While this is a very mild dish, it is not bland.

The translation of Sent Sovi I have has an appendix with supplementary recipes, one of which is Menjar Blanc, “White Dish.” The appendix is listed as “Missing recipes from the Sent Sovi tradition included in the Llibre d’aparellar de menjar.”

It is a fairly long set of explanations for the dish and a variant. The first version looked like fun to start with, and turned out a surprisingly pleasant dish.

We were both surprised by how much we liked this dish. It was more than a mere porridge, about the texture of fresh made polenta.

 

It was not sweet, nor was it salty, it was very very chickeny. We ate all of the chicken, saved the extra pottage, and agreed to add more chicken to it for lunch the next day.

stirring the hot pot so no lumps result

boiling newtonian fluid.

Recipe: Menjar Blanc

Summary: a White Dish

Ingredients

  • 3-4 chicken breasts (one per person, usually)
  • 1 cup soaked, skinned almonds
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4-1/2 c rice flour
  • 1 TBS sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 oven-worthy pot with a good lid

Instructions

  1. Set the oven to 350*
  2. Flatten the chicken breasts gently, try not to break them.
  3. a chicken breast sandwiched between two paper towels, on a cutting board, with a flattening mallet coming down to flatten them.

    using layers of cloth or paper cuts down on cleanup considerably, and also protects against tearing the meat.

  4. Blender the almonds with the broth, pour all of the result into the pot.
  5. Add the chicken to the pot.
  6. Simmer gently.
  7. When the bubbles begin to rise, make a slurry of one cup almond broth taken from the pot and the rice flour,
  8. add the slurry back to the pot.
  9. Raise the heat until a proper boil starts, then put the lid on and place the dish in the oven.
  10. About 15 minutes in, add sugar and salt, stir the contents, move the pieces of chicken about.
  11. Every ten minutes or so, stir. The dish will thicken when the rice flour is fully cooked, which is reasonably in tune with the chicken’s timing.
  12. Remove the lid for the last 10 minutes, or turn on the broiler, and allow the surface and edges to brown. The instructions are adamant about the browning being essential to the quality of the flavor.
  13. Serve.

Ratings

+uses broth from poaching prior chicken

+ skinless, boneless breasts are perfect.

+ mild, but fulfilling, easy to balance with other dishes.

+ can bake other things in the oven at the same time (350* is a standard baking temp)

– almond milk is time consuming to make, slipping the skins takes forever.

– needs both stove and oven time (unless I work out a shortcut)

– needs stirring and attention, particularly for browning at the end

Preparation time:

Cooking time:

Number of servings (yield): 3

My rating 4 stars:  ★★★★☆ 1 review(s)