The Hitchhiker's Guide to Ancient Cookery

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Alexandre Lerot d'Avigné
Jeff Berry
(Number 21 in the Series, September 2003)

Focusing on Yule Menus

Having gotten the rough idea of what I need to do, it's time to get serious about the menu. Let's start at the top, generalities first and then a recipe or two.

On the table as people are seated:

Followed immediately by: After that: Subsequently: And finally: Now lets talk specific recipes for the first course.

Bread is easy, I'll just buy some fairly rustic bread. Ditto the dried fruits and nuts. I'll do marinated mushrooms (see CGCC #7). As for the cold meat, as indicated above I've decided upon salted beef brisket and mustard. (In fact, I'll almost certainly cop out and simply buy prepared mustard. I'll try to stick to a kind that has a period ingredient list.)

Most of my earlier sources have little to say about straight-ahead cooking of beef, but they agree that salted meat goes with mustard. (Traité de Cuisine says "BEEF: Fresh beef should be prepared with white garlic if it is salted with mustard." Le Menagier de Paris writes of salted beef tongue, "And then they are cooked in water and wine if you wish, and eaten with mustard." The Vivendier comments, "Salted mutton is eaten with mustard," and recommends the same for salted venison.)

For the salting, which is much referred to in the literature, but little explained, I turned to the "The Encyclopedia of Cooking." Under wet salting, it has the following, "For a piece of pork or beef (usually brisket) weighing about 5 lb. add 1 to 1 1/2 lb sea or common salt, 3/4 cup brown sugar and 2 tablespoons saltpeter to 1 gallon water; bring to a boil, strain into the container and allow to become cold. Put the meat in the liquid, cover and leave for 5 days, turning it daily." So, I'll do the meat that way, cook it up a day or two before and serve it.

For the record, I chose wet salting (pickling) over dry salting since it can be done faster and easier, and I've not done it before.

I want to allow 1/3 to 1/2 pound of meat per person, so I'll need between 20 and 30 pounds of brisket for the feast, assuming we sell out the 60 spots.

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

Copyright Jeff Berry
Originally webbed 7 October 2003
Last modified 7 October 2003