Tuesday, March 11, 2014

How to fill your Coffin.

Yesterday I gave you the instructions for preparing a pastry shell or “coffin” and today I want to suggest some fillings from the same source - The Good Huswifews Handmaide for the Kitchin (1594.)

Both recipes include fillings of fruit and meat – veal and grapes in one, and chicken and damsons in the other. We have considered old-time fruit-and-meat mixtures in previous posts - chicken with pears and turkey with raspberries, and apple with pork – so it is fun to have a couple more to add to the collection, and perhaps inspire some modern interpretations (or should that be re-interpretations?)

The first recipe is for a “chewite” – an alternative spelling for “chewet,” which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as “A dish made of various kinds of meat or fish, chopped fine, mixed with spices and fruits, and baked, fried, or boiled.” Chewets were small, individual-serving  sized "pies"  – although the boiled versions, such as in the following recipe, we would call dumplings today.
To make Chewites of Veale.
Take a leg of Veal and perboyle it, then mince it with beefe suet, take almost as much of your suet as of your Veale, and take a good quantitie of Ginger, a little Saffron to colour it. Take halfe a goblet of white wine, and two or three good handfuls of grapes , and put them all together with salt, and so put them in coffins, and let them boyle a quarter of an houre.

And now for my personal favourite from the book:

To bake Chickens with Damsons.

Take your Chickens, drawe them and wash them, then breake their bones, and lay them in a platter, then take foure handfuls of fine flower, and lay it on a faire boord, put thereto twelve yolks of Egs, a dish of butter, and a litle Saffron: mingle them altogether, & make your paste therewith. Then make sixe coffins, and put in euery coffin a lumpe of butter of the bignesse of a Walnut: then season your sixe coffins with one spoonful of Cloues and Mace, two spoonfuls of Synamon, and one of Sugar, and a spoonefull of Salt. Then put your Chickens into your pies: then take Damisons and pare away the outward peele of them, and put twentie in euery of your pies, round about your chicken, then put into euerie of your coffins, a hand full of Corrans. Then close them vp, and put them into the Ouen, then let them be there three quarters of an houre.

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