The Hitchhiker's Guide to Ancient Cookery

with your host
Alexandre Lerot d'Avigné
(Number 11 in the Series, mid Feb. 1998)

Last time, as you may recall, I experimented with "To Stew a Rump of Beef". The result was a greater success than I expected, and is now a much requested dinner in my daily life, I can only hope it goes over as well at the feast.

However, one dish does not a menu make, so on to the next.

"Pare them and cut them into slices. Stew them with Wine and Water as the Pears, and season them in like manner with Spice. Towards the end sweeten them with Sugar, breaking them into Pap by stirring them. When you are ready to take them off, put in good store of fresh-butter and incorporate it well with them, by stirring them together. You stew these between two dishes. The quickest Apples are the best."

With all the references to the Pears, I suppose we'd best have that as well.

"Pare them, put them into a Pipkin, with so much Red or Claret Wine and water, ana, as will near reach to the top of the Pears. Stew or boil gently, till they grow tender, which may be in two hours. After a while, put in some sticks of Cinnamon bruised and a few Cloves. When they are almost done, put in Sugar enough to season them well and their Syrup, which you pour out upon them in a deep Plate."

When I made this, I had been envisioning something like sliced apples in syrup, but when I made it, it came out like hot applesauce. Upon reviewing the recipe, though, I think that's what is intended.

At any rate, the recipe is pretty straightforward. I took a couple of Granny Smith apples as being the "quickest", pared and sliced them and tossed them in a pot. Equal parts (ana) of cheap red wine and water were added until the apples were almost covered. I threw in a bit of ground cinnamon, not having stick handy, and a few cloves. I simmered them for an hour or so, then added perhaps 1/3 of a cup of sugar - this will be a matter of taste. About that time, I gave it a quick stir with a fork and the apples broke up quickly. I let it cook a while longer, since I wasn't ready to eat it, but it was already mushed into Pap. Then I whisked in a couple of tablespoons of butter.

I'm not quite sure what "stew these between two dishes" means. I do wonder if it is a reference to a double boiler, though.

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Comments are welcome.
Alexandre Lerot d'Avigné, Jeff Berry,

Copyright Jeff Berry
Originally webbed 4/9/98
Last modified 4/9/98