Robin, Vogelzang. The Book of Sent Sovi: Medieval recipes from Catalonia. Tamesis Books, 2008. 191. Print.
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.
Recipe: Menjar Blanc
Summary: a White Dish
- 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
- Set the oven to 350*
- Flatten the chicken breasts gently, try not to break them.
- Blender the almonds with the broth, pour all of the result into the pot.
- Add the chicken to the pot.
- Simmer gently.
- When the bubbles begin to rise, make a slurry of one cup almond broth taken from the pot and the rice flour,
- add the slurry back to the pot.
- Raise the heat until a proper boil starts, then put the lid on and place the dish in the oven.
- About 15 minutes in, add sugar and salt, stir the contents, move the pieces of chicken about.
- 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.
- 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.
+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
Number of servings (yield): 3