A Medieval Christmas Delicacy

NPR on bread sauce, which was thickened with day-old bread or toasted crumbs instead of flour.
Ground almonds and other nuts were also used as thickeners, as were eggs and animal fat, but the availability — and versatility — of leftover bread made it a medieval kitchen staple. It offered a good tempered and flexible way to create a variety of consistencies. And in the Middle Ages, being able to whip up a wide variety of soups and sauces was an essential part of the culinary skill set. Want a hearty stew? How about the recipe for Beef Soup (Beef- y-Stywyd ), written in 1420. It gives instructions to soak a loaf of bread in broth and vinegar, push it through a strainer, and then use this sourdough slurry to thicken a pot of simmering beef.

For something a little more piquant for the venison, the 14th century cook could make a batch of cinnamon sauce according to directions in the Forme of Cury, a manuscript roll of recipes attributed to the Master Cooks of King Richard II. The recipe required grinding up cardamom, clove, nutmeg, pepper and ginger with five times as much cinnamon, twice as much toasted bread as everything else, and stirring the lot into some vinegar. Stored in a cask, this made "a lordly sauce" that was "good for half a year."
Sounds pretty good, really.


Texan99 said...

We just finished off the oyster pan roast leftovers. You serve it over toast. Nothing like bread crumbs or croutons or just hunks of toast in a soup.

My loaf turned out beautiful today, all gift-worthy for my mother-in-law, which is a relief. I won't be up till all hours tonight trying to make a replacement. We'll be hitting the road at the crack of dawn tomorrow.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Cinnamon 5x, but not that different than the current rage for pumpkin pie spices. More intense that that, I'll warrant, and the vinegar changes the shape on the tongue. All soaked in with toasted bread. It does sound lordly.

That half-a-year part has me a just a touch nervous, though.