Libellus De Arte Coquinaria; XXVI, One Should Roast a Hen


Recipe XXVI. One should roast a hen and cut it into pieces. Add to some broth lard, a little garlic, salt, and egg yolks, and cook the hen in this.

For a rare change, this recipe calls for the bird to be roasted before being simmered. Often, the meat is seethed first, for humoural reasons.

This was an old laying hen. They are difficult to acquire, but a guinea fowl will have a similar flavor and behave similarly.

Roast the chicken. I don’t have a spit available, because the weather is awful, so I spatchcocked the bird and roasted it with salt and pepper. Not that they are called for, but this bird is special and I wanted salt and pepper.


After roasting, while it cooled, I broke the bird as best I could, This is not a tender bird.

Prepare the broth. If you wish to add fat, as called for, do not use modern bacon. it’s candied and smoked, rather than just salted.

Temper the yolks.IMG_5258

That’s a most-likely modern step, as the result of yolks that don’t curdle is not mentioned, but it’s worth a shot.

To temper yolks, allow the eggs to come to room temperature, and separate the yolks from the whites.

 Warm the broth, and while beating the yolks, add half-ounce portions of hot broth to the not-cold yolks. Keep beating.

Eventually, the yolks will be about the same temperature as the broth, and can be poured into the main pot.

Decide how much you like garlic, and simmer everything together for about a half hour on a reasonably low flame.


1 hen, roasted and cooled.

1 quart broth, not skimmed. Lard or salt fat if you have it, but not modern bacon fat, which is candied and smoked.

2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed (we like garlic!)

1 tsp salt, less if you are using salted fat, more if you like more.

3 yolks, beaten

Break the bird into serving portions which best suit your needs.

Place in pot with broth, garlic, fat, salt, and tempered yolks.

Simmer on low flame for approximately a half hour. If you have a tender, more modern bird, just simmer til warmed through.

The broth makes an excellent soup base, if you prefer not to re-use it for the same dish. Freeze between uses, and strain well, if you do choose to re-use it.

Excellent use of leftovers.




Grewe, Rudolf. Libellus De Arte Coquinaria: An Early Northern Cookery Book. Tempe: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2001. Print.

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