The Middle Ages were a time of mystery and adventure, and it was thought that two things were needed to vanquish your enemies: a shiny armor and a full belly. Some say that food back then was out of the ordinary and cooks had to improvise constantly to keep everyone happy. As you will see in the Middle Ages recipes listed in this article, you can make tasty foods even with the simplest ingredients.
Although you will hesitate to try some of these, it will at least provide you with the knowledge few people still have today. In fact, only historians know about these Middle Ages recipes and it took thorough research to dig them up. Some of these may come in handy when SHTF, while others may be used to impress your guests. If you try these Middle Ages recipes, please use the comment section and share your experience with us.
The quantity of ingredients in some recipes and precise quantities of spice mixes are unknown. Also, the vegetables we use today no longer taste like those of the past.
Cooking terms http://www.godecookery.com/glossary/glossary.htm
All translations and modern interpretations are by James L. Matterer, The Society for Creative Anachronism, and unknown.
Blaunche escrepes (White crepes or pancakes)
White wine pinch
Butter or oil
Beat the egg whites until fluffy; beat in enough flour to make a slightly thick batter. Beat in enough wine to thin the batter to a medium consistency, the same as for modern pancake batter. Add a pinch of salt.
In a large skillet or pan, heat the oil or butter.
The medieval recipe has the batter being dropped into the hot oil by use of an improvised funnel, a bowl with a hole in the bottom, the flow controlled by the fingers. You may feel free to use whatever method of making pancakes that you’re familiar or comfortable with: ladling from a bowl, pouring from a pitcher, using a modern pancake batter dispenser, etc. Make as many pancakes as your batter will allow, adding more oil to the pan as needed. Turn the pancake to cook both sides, being careful that, like modern crepes, they stay as white as possible.
When done, sprinkle with sugar and serve with Poume d’oranges.
Crispels (Round pastries basted in honey)
Olive oil Honey
Roll out the pastry as thin as possible; cut into circles. Fry the pastry in a little olive oil until lightly brown & crisp. Drain well. Place the honey in a saucepan and slowly bring to a boil, skimming off any scum that rises. Brush the pastries with the hot honey and serve forth.
Take and make a foile of gode past as thynne as paper; kerue it out wyt a saucer & frye it in oile; oþer in grece; and þe remnaunt, take hony clarified and flamme þerwith. Alye hem vp and serue hem forth.
Tourteletes in fryture (Small fig pies basted with honey)
Powder fort – a Medieval blend of strong spices, almost always containing pepper (and never sugar). A nice mix might consist of such spices as black pepper, white pepper, cardamom, ginger, cubeb, clove, etc.
Finely dice the figs as small as possible by hand or purée with a processor; mix in the saffron and the powder fort spice mixture – use to taste. Roll out the pastry dough and cut into medium-sized circles. On one pastry circle place a spoonful of figs, then cover with another circle of dough; seal the edges well. Fry the pie(s) in hot oil until lightly browned & crispy; remove from heat and allow to drain. In a pot, heat the honey, skimming off any scum that rises. As soon as the pie(s) have drained, brush on the honey. Eat hot or cold.
Tourteletes in fryture. Take figus & grynde hem smal; do þerin saffron & powdur fort. Close hem in foyles of dowe, & frye hem in oyle. Claryfye hony & flamme hem þerwyt; ete hem hote or colde.
A bake Mete Ryalle (Pork & chicken pies)
1 or 2 nine-inch pie shells
Boiled chicken, diced
Boiled pork, diced
Marrow, diced or crumbled
Sugar Marrow, one spoonful of diced or 1 med. sized chunk
For this recipe use either pork or chicken, or a combination of both. Combine meat with spices and diced marrow; add sugar to taste. Place this mixture in the pie shell(s). Place the additional marrow on the top middle then sprinkle sugar over the entire pie. Bake until crust is golden and the top has browned. Serve for an evening meal.
SOURCE: Harleian MS 279
For to dihyte a swan (Roasted swan with Chaudon)
With your hands or a pastry brush, coat the entire outside of a cleaned & gutted swan (being sure to reserve the giblets for the Chaudon sauce) with olive oil. Roast on either a spit or in an oven. (A modern rotisserie may be the closest many of us will be able to come to actual spit roasting, but if that is not possible, an oven will do the job as well.) Roast until done, basting often with broth or drippings.
Unseasoned toasted breadcrumbs (see note)
Red Wine Vinegar
Wash the blood from the giblets, and while still wet, sprinkle with a little salt. Place in a pot, cover with water and boil until done. Remove, drain, & cool. Chop the giblets into small pieces; place giblets and the broth, spices, & breadcrumbs in a food processor (or any equivalent device) and combine into a smooth gravy-like sauce. Strain if necessary. Place in a sauceboat, add salt if necessary, and bring to a soft boil. Reduce heat to a simmer & add a little vinegar for a slight tartness. Serve with the roasted swan. What?!? No swan at your local market? In case such a fate does befall you, any large waterfowl will do, such as a goose. However, this is one of the few times when a turkey may be considered for a medieval feast; as a substitute for swan, it really is the closest bird in size that most of us will be able to find. Turkeys were not introduced into Europe until well after 1500 and for medieval feasts they are quite terribly inappropriate, but for late Renaissance or Elizabethan feasts, they are acceptable. (See An Elizabethan Dinner Conversation, where the master of the house proclaims, “Cut that turkeycock in pieces, but let it be cold, for it is better cold than hot.”) But, when needing to recreate a medieval dish featuring swan, the modern cook may turn to turkey as the cheapest and most easily accessible substitute. Keep in mind, though, that any large bird will also do, so use turkey only when you’re not able to obtain a goose, duck, or even a large capon.
Galingale, a spice made from the root of the Cypress tree, is often found in stores that sell Asian or Indian foods. You may substitute by adding a little white pepper to the ginger.
The medieval cook was faced with a culinary paradox when “dihyting,” or preparing, a swan. As a waterfowl, its nature was moist and wet, and therefore needed to be roasted to counteract those qualities. However, swans (despite their humoural properties) are notoriously dry & tough, and roasting only exacerbates this condition. The solution was therefore to add a moistening agent to the swan, hence the larding. The modern cook may not be comfortable with this procedure, so applying a coat of olive oil to the bird before roasting and keeping it well basted will effectively serve the same purpose.
Modern poultry is somewhat “cleaner” and is slaughtered more hygienically than medieval fowl; scouring the guts with salt may have been necessary then, but is probably not so now, and only increases the amount of what is now known to be unhealthy ingredient when used in excess.
Chykenes or Connyng in Grauey (Chicken or Rabbit in Almond Gravy)
1 whole chicken or rabbit
1 quart chicken broth
½ pound almonds, blanched
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. powdered ginger
salt to taste
Bring broth to a simmer in 8 quart pot. Take 2 cups of the broth and the almonds and make almond milk (see recipe for Almond Milk). Mix sugar and powdered ginger together and reserve ½ teaspoon. Add newly made almond milk to remaining broth along with spice mixture. Cut meat into pieces and place in broth, and additional water as needed to cover. Cover pot and cook until meat is tender. Place cooked meat on serving platter and sprinkle remaining spice mixture on top.
Ove Plene (Cheese stuffed eggs
1 dozen eggs
¼ cup fresh herbs, finely chopped
½ pound fresh cheese
1 tsp. powder douce
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. salt
Place 10 of the eggs in pot with enough water to cover and add 1 Tbsp salt to the water. Place pot over high heat and bring water to a boil. Turn off heat and let set in hot water for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath for the eggs. Remove eggs from hot water and place in ice bath. Peel then slice eggs in half lengthwise. Remove yolks from eggs and place in medium size mixing bowl. Lightly beat two remaining raw eggs. Combine hard cooked egg yolks, cheese and finely chopped herbs with the lightly beaten eggs until a paste is formed. Stuff hard cooked egg whites with cheese paste. Place skillet over medium low heat. Coat bottom of skillet with olive oil. Place egg white halves, paste side down, into skillet. Gently fry eggs until lightly golden around the eggs. Remove eggs from skillet and place, paste side up, on serving platter.
The Medieval Kitchen: Recipes from France and Italy; Odile Redon, Françoise Sabban, & Silvano Serventi, translated to the English by Edward Schneider; The University of Chicago Press, 1998
2 lb. Strawberries
1 cup currants
2 pinches saffron
¼ cup lard
4 cups almond milk
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
1 cup rice flour
1 tsp. ground galingale (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galingale)
30 drops food coloring (I know, they didn’t have this but it looks pretty)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. powdered ginger
2 cups red wine
1 tsp. ground Ceylon cinnamon
½ cup red wine vinegar
Combine strawberries & wine in a blender and blend until smooth. Line a strainer with a flour sack cloth and pour in strawberry puree over a cooking pot. Squeeze as much of the liquid out of the cloth as possible to be captured into the pot. Add the almond milk and bring it over a medium heat, stirring occasionally as to avoid scorching the bottom of the pot. When the mixture is starting to boil, slowly whisk in the rice flour a spoonful at a time. Add the remaining ingredients and continue to stir until thick. Pour into serving bowl and garnish (preferably with pomegranate seeds). Serves 16.
Original Strawberry Pottage Recipe
Mushroom with Leeks
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 cup chicken broth
1 leek, finely sliced
1 tsp. powder fort
1 pinch saffron
Take mushrooms and pare them clean and dice them. Take leek and shred them small and do them to seethe in good broth.
Combine chicken broth and saffron in a pot and bring to a simmer.
Add mushrooms and leeks to broth, cook until tender. Stir in powder fort before serving.
Artos Katharos (Spiced White Bread)
6 cups white bread flour
1 Tbsp. Caraway Seeds
2 packages active dry yeast
1 Tbsp. Grains of Paradise, ground
1 ½ tsp. salt
2 cups of water
Combine two cups of flour with yeast, salt, caraway seeds and ground grains of paradise. Heat water to 120°-130°F. Beat flour mixture with water for about 5 minutes. Slowly add remaining flour and knead until bread dough feels elastic. Rest in bowl, covered, for about 1 hour until dough doubles in size. Punch down dough and reshape. Rest again in bowl for another hour until dough doubles in size. Punch down and split. Cut into two equal parts and form round balls. Place balls of dough, seam side down on baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven at 400°F for about 30 minutes or until loaves sound when lightly tapped.
Torta Commune (Spiced Cheesecake)
1 lb. Ricotta cheese
1 Tbsp. Vegetable stock
2 ea Egg
1 Tbsp. Lard or Butter melted
¼ cup dried currants
2 tsp. Ginger, ground
1 Tbsp. Bread crumbs
10 Threads saffron
1½ tsp. Cinnamon, ground
½ cup Sugar
2 pie crusts
Royal pie crust recipe: http://www.medievalcuisine.com/Euriol/recipe-index/paest-royall
Heat stock with saffron, let cool. Beat in eggs and cheese together until smooth. Add remaining ingredients, mix well. Pour into pie crust and bake at 350°F for 50-55 minutes.
Maestro Martino of Como, 15th century