Sauce for a Gos
A Fifteenth Century Cookry Boke
Compiled by John L Anderson
Salsa D’Oques, Goose Sauce
The Cookry Boke is a compilation of recipes from manuscripts commonly referred to as Harleian and Ashmolean, some owned by the British Museum, others by the Bodleian Library. These manuscripts contain many recipes, and are a kind of rosetta stone for cooks, having several touchstones of information to use as reference points. It’s quite common for these books, being from different countries and different centuries, to have related recipes. Some are more recognisable as being of a type than others.
This concept is interesting and simple; stuff a game bird with garlic, grapes, parsley and salt. When the bird is done, beat in cooked egg yolks, then add verjus, season, and serve.
The Sent Sovi is quite similar, in that it calls for garlic, raisins and salt to be placed in the bird before roasting, then to pound it together with egg yolks and almond milk, spice it, cook it again, and finally add verjus and chicken livers.
The recipes are obviously similar, but one is either short-hand or simply a basic theme, while the Spanish iteration is explicit in direction, far more elaborate, and festive. It is more likely to be intended as a meal when there are guests than a regular offering.
We prepared the grape-based dish, and found it to be very well balanced, easy to make both in and out of the bird, and a lovely complement to the richness of the meat.
One thing to be aware of is what grapes might have been available at the time the recipe was developed. We had no options available but red seedless, though these do not have great flavor. I strongly suggest avoiding concords unless they grow in your yard, they have a very distinct flavor and are native to the US.
If you use a seeded grape, you may wish to run them through a food mill to remove the seeds after roasting and before blending.
Recipe: Sauce for a Gos
- 1/2 cup garlic
- 1/2 cup grapes
- 1/2 cup whole fresh parsley, loosely packed
- 1/2 Tbs salt
- 3 hard egg yolks (see note)
- 1/2 cup verjus, red wine, or red wine vinegar
- Stuff the bird with the grapes, garlic, parsley and salt, roast til done.
- Alternative; sautee the above ingredients together in a bit of poultry drippings or oil.
- When the garlic is translucent and the grapes are ready to burst, remove and cool.
- Blend with the three hard boiled egg yolks, adding verjus as needed to make it into a sauce.
- There is not enough fat in this to emulsify into a mayonnaise-like consistency, it will be runny. Don’t worry if it doesn’t develop body.
- Slice the meat to be served and drizzle the sauce over it.
Number of servings (yield): 2
(Note for the eggs. Make 6 hard boiled eggs and save the whites from the ones you need for this recipe, make stuffed eggs. I’ll be posting that recipe in the not too distant future.)
After roasting, I found that the stuffing had not cooked to my preferences for food-safety, so I put it into a small pan on the stovetop til it was fully cooked.
Then, in a blender, I put three hard egg-yolks (saved the whites for lunch the next day) and added a fresh, red verjus.
Whipping in the blender did not emulsify the sauce, though I thought there might be a possibility that a mortar and pestle might create more of a creamy texture.
+Verjus is not so acid as to unbalance the dish
+Eggs bring the sauce together
+Grapes, garlic and parsley tie into a very pleasant flavor.
+The sauce can be made in a pan or pot with broth, with little loss of flavor
+Most components are easily prepared in advance
+Doesn’t separate too quickly, and while it’s best hot, doesn’t suffer from being served tepid.
+The colors can easily be manipulated into something heraldic, if that amuses you