The Hitchhiker's Guide to Ancient Cookery

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Alexandre Lerot d'Avigné
Jeff Berry
(Number 27 in the Series, December 2003)
(Although it should come between numbers 22 and 26, 26 should come after this and before 23. Clear?)

Countdown to Yule


It's the Sunday before the Yule feast. I purchase 20 pounds or so of beef brisket and began brining it as described in HHGtAC 21.

The fabulous Lynn McCann decided that making mustard sounded like fun, as a result we will not have to use store bought mustard but will instead have fresh and homemade!


A meat pie recipe was decided upon. Forme of Cury, xx.vii.xv
"Mylat of Pork"
Hewe Pork al to pecys and medle it with ayren & chese igrted. Do therto powdour fort safron & pynes with salt, make a crust in a trap; bake it wel thinne, and sue it forth." I'll be making ten of these, and they look much like a quiche. To save labor, I decided to use ground pork from the shop rather than "hewing it al to pecys" myself. Thus:
For 10 pies: I mixed the spices with the pork first, and let it sit while I grated the cheese. Then I lightly beat the eggs and mixed them into the cheese. Then I added the pork and mixed the whole mess together. It went into the pie shells and the pine nuts were sprinkled on top. Since it's quiche-like, I cooked it like I cook a quiche: 15 minutes at 425 and then 325 for another 35 minutes or so.

Afterward, they'll be frozen until Saturday morning, defrosted all day and served at room temperature.

Ed. note, 9 Jan 2017 - the citation above is to an image, presumably this one which is, I think, a scan of the 1780 Pegge edition (Pegge, Samuel, ed., The Forme of Cury. London, 1780.) The transcription is flawed. A better citation would be to The Forme of Cury in Curye on In glysch, where it is #162 on p. 134.


Friends in town, so I rest.


Time to do the pre-work on the potage.

La Varenne, I.4 "Potage of Ducks with Turnips"
"Cleanse them, lard them with great lard, then pass them in the pan with fresh seam or melted lard; or else rost them on the spit three or four turns. Then put them in the pot and take your turnips, cut them as you will, whiten them, flour them and pass them in fresh seam or lard, until they be very brown. Put them in your Ducks, seeth all well, and stove or soak your bread well, to the end that your potage be thickned. If you have capers you shall mix some with it, or a little vinegar. Take up and garnish with Turnips, then serve."
I'm going to cheat on this one a couple of places. First, as advertised I'm going to use four or five chickens and only one duck, since ducks is pricey. Both the ducks and the chicken were partly roasted, then boiled until they could easily be taken off the bones. This means that on Saturday, they'll just need to heat rather than cook. We will both save our cooking water to use as stock.

Lynn is doing the chickens, I did the duck. I roasted it for an hour and a half, then gave it quick pass through the hot grease where I was cooking turnips, then boiled it another hour or so. It was seasoned sparingly with just a little salt.

The turnips were to be parboiled ("whiten") in water with a bit of salt for ten minutes, and then floured and fried in some goose grease I had around.


I decided to make some Prince-Bisket, I used Cariadoc's redaction.


Tonight I cook the salt beef. A nice long braise should do fine, I think.

Also, time to marinate the pork.
Digbie, "To Rost Wild-Boar"
"At Franckfort, when they rost Wild-boar (or Robuck or other Venison) they lay it to soak, six or eight or ten days (according to the thickness and firmness of the piece and Penetrability of it) in good Vinegar, wherein is Salt and Juniper-berries bruised (if you will, you may add bruised Garlick or what other Haut-goust you like) the Vinegar coming up half way the flesh, and turn it twice a day. Then if you will, you may Lard it.
When it is rosted, it will be very mellow and tender. They do the like with a leg or other part of Fresh-pork."

So, vinegar, salt, juniper berries and garlick. Easy. I also added some water, a little less than the vinegar.

And I bought all the rest of the food.

A snowstorm is coming in, we toy with cancelling the event.

T-0, Liftoff

I arrived at the kitchen, Medb's apartment, about 10 AM in the middle of a snowstorm. We have a window of opportunity, though and get the food to the site.

First things first, I start the mushrooms marinating and put two pots of water on to boil. Then I kill time for a bit.

Lynn arrives about noon, and I put her to work chopping vegetables for the salad - I ended up with cabbage, romaine lettuce, watercress, leeks, onions, a few scallions (I think), parsley, and fennel.

About 1PM, I got the pease-pottage going going. Throwing in all the split peas and a bunch of onion.

About 2PM, the pork went into the oven. The mylats were not thawing as quickly as they might, so we began to stack them on top of the two hot soup pots, that helped.

About 3PM, the duck, chicken and turnips were added to the pot which contained some water and all the duck/turnip broth I had saved. I lay out the nuts and dried fruits in their bowls, and then begin to cut up the salt beef.

The pease pottage isn't thickening enough, so we pour off some of the liquid on the top. That helps.

Around 4, the pork is done, so we pull it out, turn the oven down to warm, get all the pork juice, including the marinade with which we had been basting, into pots which we start to reduce, then put the pork back in the oven to keep warm.

I continuously nag the autocrats about making sure the entertainment keeps on schedule so my food can go out as scheduled. I am rewarded when they tell me that everyone is so on schedule that they want to send the food out half an hour early.

I say yes, and we roll!

Bread is hacked into half loaves and goes down with the nuts and fruits. Mustard, beef and mushrooms are put onto a tray in a lovely arrangement and that is sent down with the duck soup, suitably corrected with salt and pepper, as soon as they get back with the roll-y cart.

Now, the autocrats want to slow me down, but I'm on a roll, baby! We send out the salad and pork. They balk me by not returning with the roll-y cart for a while, but when they do, the pease pottage and mylat are ready and off they go.

Due to the limitations of the roll-y cart, I end up with four courses of two dishes each, which is OK.

And, eh la! that is that.

[Editor's Note: in case anyone is keeping track or cares, I actually wrote this one shortly after the event. Then I lost it. Six months later I went looking for the mylat recipe, realized I didn't have it and wrote Article 26 thinking I had forgotten. Then I found this article and dropped it back into the sequence. This one and that one are somewhat redundant, but I like the timeline in this one.]

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

Copyright Jeff Berry
Originally webbed December 2003
Last modified 23 August 2004