Archive for June, 2015

I have recently been reading “The Medieval Cook” by Bridget Ann Henisch (The Boydell Press, 2009). She has a few interesting notes about sausages and sausage-makers.

She quotes Andrew Boorde, in the sixteenth century who “remarked: ‘A good coke is halfe a physycyon. For the chefe phsyscke [the counceyll of a physycyon excepte] doth come from the cytchyn, wherefore the physycyon and the coke … must consult together for the preparacion of meate for sycke men.” (p 22). Sadly, sausages were not considered to be part of the optimal diet for good health. The Renaissance “French dietician Estienne offers some detailed critical comments about popular tidbits that we would now call appetizers. A number of these “eaten to irritate the appetite and gullet,” such as cured ham, smoked tongue, pig’s feet, patés – particularly those with eggs and onions and especially blood sausages – are condemned outright. Even the few he admitted were less noxious – Venetian lucanica (luganega or linguiça), Milanese cervelat, and some French sausages – should be eaten only sparingly.” (Eating Right in the Renaissance, by Ken Albala, p 253).

Albala also notes that sausage might be served to peasants on days the lord provided the meals during the harvest season. Sausages, like the bread, cheese, and herring that might be served, were familiar staples served as a reward for service. Henisch, in her chapter on the cottage cook, points out that it was economical to use the never-ending soup pot to cook more than one item at the same time. “Room might be found for a side of bacon, a sausage in its own casing, or a container filled with eggs to be hard-boiled” (p. 40).

The most entertaining references to sausages are in Henisch’s chapter Fast Food and Fine Catering. Henisch quotes John Lydgate’s “The Siege of Thebes (c. 421), in which “Lydgate himself joins the party of pilgrims as they arrive at Canterbury and stop for the night at one of the leading inns. The proprietor bustles out to take orders for dinner, and tells Lydgate what is on the day’s bill of fare:

And ye shal han mad at your devis [you will have, made to order]

A gret puddyng or a rounde hagys,

A franchemole, a tansy or a froyse” (p. 80).

Puddyng, hangys and franchemole “are all savoury mixtures of ingredients, packed into the skin of an animal’s stomach and then simmered until cooked” (p. 80). She adds that “puddings of any kind were good standbys, because they were cooked in advance and then served on demand, either whole or by the slice (p. 81).

Sausages showed up as street snacks and in cookshops too. 16thC poet William Dunbar mentions “pudingis” for sale in the streets of Edinburgh in one of his poems. The puddings were savoury mixtures of oatmeal, onions and, with luck, a little meat, cooked in a skin, and the could be bought whole or by the slice (Henisch, p 75). William Fitz Stephen wrote before 1183 that “There is in London upon the river’s bank, amid the wine that is sold from the ships and wine-cellars, a public cookshop. There daily, according to the season, you may find viands, dishes, roast, fried and boiled, fish great and small, the coarser flesh for the poor, the more delicate for  the rich … As Fitz Stephen makes clear, cookshops welcomed any paying customer, a feature which did not find favour with less indulgent critics. Fast food was always viewed with suspicion by those in authority, its reputation clouded by the undeniable fact that it was eaten not only by the deserving poor but by those on the look-out for a little fun as well as a little snack. It was enjoyed on the wing, at strange times and in strange places, where men and women could meet in dangerously unregulated settings. Fast food and fast women went hand in hand and, in the age-old way, delightful flirtations led to deplorable consequences.

A case in point is that of George Cely, a young bachelor who, as an English wool merchant, had to pay regular business visits to Calais. While far away from home base, he spent many happy hours in a favourite cookshop, where he found both the puddings and Margery, the girl who made them, much to his liking. The end result was not one but two babies for Margery, and a taxing amount of extra expense for George. In January 1482, a friend wrote a discreet note about the second pregnancy to George, who by then was safely back in England: ‘Where as we ate the good puddings, the woman of the house that made them, as I understand she is with child.’ François Villon knew all about the dangers and delights of such casual encounters, and listed ‘la gente Salcissiere’ (‘the charming Sausage-maker’) among the good-time girls in his own fifteenth-century Paris” (Henisch, pp 76-77).


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The earliest reference to haggis appears to be from 1430, in the verse cookbook Liber Cure Cocorum (http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/lcc/parallel.html#q120).

Liber Cure Cocorum: Parallel Transcription/Translation

For hagese.

Þe hert of schepe, þe nere þou take,

Þo bowel no3t þou shalle forsake,

On þe turbilen made, and boyled wele,

Hacke alle togeder with gode persole,

Isop, saveray, þou schalle take þen,

And suet of schepe take in, I ken,

With powder of peper and egges gode wonne,

And sethe hit wele and serve hit þenne,

Loke hit be saltyd for gode menne.

In wyntur tyme when erbs ben gode,

Take powder of hom I wot in dede,

As saveray, mynt and tyme, fulle gode,

Isope and sauge I wot by þe rode.

For haggis.

The heart of sheep, the kidneys you take,

The bowel naught you shall forsake,

In the vortex120 made, and boiled well,

Hack all together with good parsley,

Hyssop, savory, you shall take then,

And suet of sheep take in, I teach,

With powder of pepper and eggs [a] good quantity, [ Page 53 ]

And seethe it well and serve it then,

Look it is salted for good men.

In winter time when herbs are good,121

Take powder of them I know indeed,

As savory, mint and thyme, quite good,

Hyssop and sage I know by the Rood

For wesels.

Fyrst grynd porke, temper in fere

With egges and powder of peper dere,

And powder of canel þou put þer to,

In chapon necke þou close hit þo,

Or elles in paunche of grys hit pyt

And rost hit wele, and þen dore hit

With oute, with batere of egges and floure,

To serve in sale or ellys in boure.

For wesels.118

First grind pork, mix together
With eggs and powder of pepper dear,
And powder of cinnamon you put thereto,
In capon’s neck you close it then,
Or else in stomach of pig it put,
And roast it well, and then endore it
Without, with batter of eggs and flour,
To serve in hall or else in bower.

I like the idea of a sausage-like dish called a weasel! Getting a pig’s stomach will be difficult, but I could use chicken neck skin, or just a sausage casing. I’ll be going back to this cookbook to explore more. Just skimming through, I have found a recipe for cumin broth I would like to try.

In “The Homes of Other Days, A History of Domestic Manners and Sentiments in England” by

Thomas Wright (1871), there is a reference to Sloan MS 1201, which is in the British Library.

According to the author, this was a very complete cookbook from the latter part of the 15th C. It

has a reference to a Haggesse of Almayne. I suspect that in this context, haggesse may simply mean sausage. This is supported by the Catholicon Anglcum: An English Wordbook Dated 1483, published by the Early English Text Society in 1881.

(https://archive.org/stream/catholiconanno7500herruoft/catholiconanno7500herruoft_djvu.txt). There,the words haggesse, hagisse, haggis, and hagas all appear.

In the Nomenclator, 1585, we find ‘a haggise ; some call it a chitterling, some a hog’s harslet :’ and Baret gives ‘ a chitterling, omasum ; a gut or chitterling hanged in the smoke, hilla infumata? ‘ Hilla ; a smalle gutte or chitterlyng salted.’

Baret also has ‘ a Panch. Rumen Aqualiculus. A panch, or gorbellie guts, a tunbellie. Ventrosus, ventricosus.’ ‘ Aqualiculus : ventriculus porci’ Medulla. Perhaps the meaning here is the dish ‘haggis.’ The Ortus Vocabulorum gives ‘ Omasus, i.e, tripa vel ventriculus qui continet alia viscera. A trype, or a podynge, or a wesaunt, or hagges :’ and Cotgrave has ‘ Gogue. A sheepes paunch, and thence a haggas made of good herbes, chopt lard, spices, eggs, and cheese, the which incorporated and moistened with the warme blood of the new-killed) beast, are put into her paunch, and sodden with other meat.’ Withals says ‘ Ilia porcorum bona sunt, mala reliquorum. The intrals of Hogges are good (I thinke he meaneth that which wee commonly call Hogges-Harslet).’ See Hagas, below

*an Hagas 4 ; tucetum.

*an Hagas maker; tucetarius.

The Wellcome Library also has MS.635, an early 17th C receipt-book. Page 35, digitized at http://archives.wellcome.ac.uk/recipebooks/MS635/MS635_0035.pdf has a recipe “To Make A Haggis”. The manuscript is damaged and very difficult to read, but I have printed out a copy and will try to puzzle out the recipe.

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A True Gentlewoman’s Delight: Wherein is contained all manger of Cookery, was published by W.I., Gent in London in 1653. I am using the version edited by Susan J. Evans (Falconwood Press, 1991).

I have previously shared the recipe for Black Puddings here: https://siglindesarts.wordpress.com/2015/06/13/to-make-black-puddings/.

To make white Puddings. After the humbles [edible entrails such as heart, liver, tongue, feet ears and brains of any animal, but especially of deer] are very tender boyled, take some of the lights [lungs], with the hearts, and all the flesh and fat about them, picking from them all the sinnews and skin, then chop the meat small as can be, then put to it a little of the Liver finely searced, some grated bread searced, for or five yolks of Eggs, a pint of very good cream, a spoonful or two of Sack [sherry], a little Sugar, Cinnamon, Cloves and Mace, a little Nutmeg, a few Canary seeds, a little Rosewater mingled with a good deal of Swines fat, a little Salt, roul it in rouls two hourse before you goe about it, let the fat side of the skin be turned and steeped in Rosewater till you fill them.

I couldn’t find any explanation for Canary seed except that it may actually be canary seed. Normally grown as bird food, it is eaten in some areas, including the Canary Islands.

To make Almond Puddings. Take a pound of Almonds blanched, and beat them very small, with a little Rosewater, boyl good milk with a flack of Mace, and a little sliced Nutmeg, when it is boyled take it clean from the spice, then take the quantity of a penny loaf grate it, and searce it through a Collender, and then put it into the milk, and let it stand till it be prettie cool, then put in the almonds, and five or six yolks of Eggs, and a little Salt and Sugar, what you thinke fit, and a good store of Beef suet, and Marrow very finely shred.

Again, this recipe is not clear about whether to use casings, but other recipes in this book specify putting the pudding into a dish, so I am assuming that the default is casings, unless specified otherwise.

To make a forc’d dish of any cold meat. Take any cold meat and shred it small, a little Cloves and Mace, and Nutmeg, and two yolks of Eggs, a spoonful or two of Rosewater, a little grated bread, a little Beef suet shred small, make it up into balls or any fashion you please, and boyl them in fried suet between two earthen dishes, your suet must boil before you put in your meat; for sauce, a little Butter, Verjuyce, and Sugar.

To make a forc’d dish of a Leg of Mutton, or Lamb. Take a leg of Mutton, or Lamb, cut out the flesh, and take heed you break not the skinof it, then perboyle it, and mince it with a little Beef suet, put into it a little sweet Hearbs shred, three or four Dates sliced, a little beaten Nutmeg, Cloves, and Mace, a few Currans a little Sugar, a little Verjuyce, three or four Eggs, mix them together, and put them in the skin, and set it in a dish and bake it.

The biggest mystery for me around these forced dishes is whether the bone is retained inside the skin. The bone would give structure, but it would be very difficult to stuff in all the meat – I’ll need to research this more.

To stew Saucesedges. Boyle them in fair Water and Salt a little, for sauce boyle some Currans alone, when they be almost tender, then pout [pour] out the water, and put in a little white Wine, Butter, and Sugar.

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This book, edited by Susan J. Evans in 1990 (Falconwood Press) has several recipes that look similar to others from the same period.

Recipe 52 from Part 3 of this book (experiments in Cookery and Housewifery) is To make very fine Sawsages.

Take four pound an half of Pork, chop it smal, and put to it three pound of Beefe Suet, and chop them very small together; then put to them a handful of Sage finely shred, on ounce of Pepper, one ounce of Mace, two ounces of Cloves, a good deal of Salt, eight eggs very well beaten before you put them in: then work them wel with your hand til they be throughly mingled, and then fill them [sausage casings] up. some like not the egges in them: it is not amisse therefore if you leave them out.

66 – To make a Haggesse Pudding. Take a fat Haggesse [sheep’s pluck – the heart, liver and lungs], perbol it wel, take out the kernels, shred it smal, and temper it with a handful or two of grated Manchet [bread], then take three or four Egs wel beaten, Rose-water and Sugar, Cloves, Nutmegs, Cinnamon, Mace, very finely beaten; currans and Marrow good store, temper them all together, with a fit quantity of Cream, being first moderately seasoned with Salt.

Though this recipe doesn’t specify, it is safe to assume that the ingredients were encased [probably in a sheep’s stomach] and then further cooked.

67 – To make the best white Pudding.

Take a pound of Almonds, blanch them, stampe them, putting in a little milke sometime to them in the stamping: then put to them three handfuls of fine flower, or as much grated bread first baked in an oven; six egs wel beaten, a good deale of marrow cut in little pieces: season them with Nutmegs and Sugar, three spoonfuls of rose-water and a little salt: temper them all together with as much Creame as wil serve to wet or mingle them, and so fil them [the casings] up.

The other dessert puddings in this cookbook are all cooked in a dish, like modern puddings.

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The Domostroi (Rules for Russian Households in the Time of Ivan the Terrible) was edited and translated by Carolyn Johnstone-Pouncy in 1994. The book likely originated in 15th C Novgorod, and the original author is unknown, but the most widely known version was edited by a priestly advisor to young Prince Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible, who lived from 1530-1584). On page 119, you find instructions for raising various kinds of animals, and preserving and using their meat. The authors note that “Good housewives stew the cow’s entrails, head, ears, lips, jawbones, brain, intestines, tripe, stomach, fatty flesh, feet, liver, and kidneys. They stuff the entrails with kasha cooked with suet and simmered (the kasha can be made from oatmeal, buckwheat, barley, or whatever is available). If these [sausages] are not eaten up in the autumn, they make a pleasant Christmas feast.”

Interestingly, although the author talks about raising a pig and killing it in the autumn, he mentions salting the meat, rendering the lard and eating various parts (including stomach and intestines, often used for sausage), he doesn’t mention pork sausages.

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This recipe is from “A True Gentlewoman’s Delight Wherein is contained all manner of Cookery” by W.I., Gent, London 1653 (edited by Susan J. Evans, Falconwood Press, 1991)

To make Black Puddings.

Take your bloud when it is warm, put in some salt, and when it is cold throughly, put in your groats well pckt, and let it stand soking a night, then put in hearbs which must be Rosemary, large Savorie, Penniroyal, Thyme and Fennel, then make it soft with putting of good cream, hot until the bloud look pale, then beat four or five eggs whites and all, and mingle it, then season it with Cloves, Mace, Pepper, Fennel seeds, then put good store of Beef Suet in your stuffe, and mince your fat not to small.

375 ml of pig’s blood

2 c cooked steel cut oats, prepared according to directions on package

1 tsp salt

½ tsp rosemary, ground in a mortar

½ tsp ground savory

¼ tsp each pennyroyal, thyme and fennel, ground in a mortar

½ c table cream

2 eggs

¼ tsp ground cloves

¼ tsp ground mace

¼ tsp pepper or cubebs (I used cubebs), ground in a mortar

1 c lard

I debated soaking the oats in the blood overnight, but wasn’t certain about quantities and whether the oats would actually swell and soften. This meant that I may have added more oats than originally intended, as I cooked them in water that would not have been in the original recipe. However, it did allow me to adjust quantities.

I put the blood into a saucepan and added salt, oatmeal, the herbs and cream, then heated everything gently. As the mixture got warm, I added two beaten eggs and the spices and simmered the mixture, stirring frequently. I was careful to ensure the eggs didn’t cook on contact by having the mix quite cool at that point. However, I could also have tempered the eggs (heated them a bit by setting the bowl of egg mixture in a pan of hot water for a few minutes). When the mixture got thick, I added the lard. Suet might have been a better choice, but it was not readily available. The lard melted in the pan, and then I dumped the contents into my sausage stuffer. Blood pudding is very messy and somewhat liquid, doing it by hand with my horn stuffer and a spoon would have been more economical with ingredients, but I was pressed for time so did more clean-up instead. Once the sausages were stuffed, I put them in a pan of water to cook for about 10 minutes. They were still very pliable when I pulled them out, so you might want to cook yours a bit longer, or experiment with adding more oatmeal or soaking/cooking the oatmeal with the blood. They are now resting in the refrigerator. I tasted a bit, and is very similar to the blood pudding available at my local grocery store, so I am happy with the results.



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Pear Puddings

Last night I baked a dessert that looked like raw fruit, and its main ingredient was chicken. I won’t give you the recipe because that belongs to my friend Michelle Enzinas, who is writing a cookbook and asked me to try the recipe. However, the original comes from The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby Knight Opened (1669). Here is how it turned out:


I thought the pears tasted fine but, to be sure, I gave one to my sister and her boyfriend when they stopped by this morning. They have no interest in historic cooking, so this was a real test. They loved them! My sister said she was finishing hers because she wanted to, not just to be polite. They both said they would happily eat them again.


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