This is a simple, high protein dish. Its tasty and a great opportunity to talk about the seasonality of shellfish and seafood.
At Joust! we decided to have a go cooking some less popular cuts of meat. We went straight to the heart of the matter (ha!) and asked our local butcher for some offal-based options. He kindly donated us four lambs’ hearts.
What you’ll need:
- Some lambs hearts (we had four)
- Sausage meat – enough to fill the hearts to bursting.
- A bottle of ale (not lager!)
- A litre of water
- Cut into your lambs hearts and remove any congealed blood (this, if you have time can be mixed into stocks and pates). Make sure you cut out any overly tough muscle.
- Stuff the hearts with sausage meat.
- Roll the stuffed heart in a mixture of salt and rosemary.
- Put your water and ale (you can also use wine), into a cooking put. Heat, but do not allow to boil.
- Add the hearts to the pot.
- Cook at a warm, but not boiling temperature, for two hours.
- Voila – delicious tender stuffed lambs hearts!
One thing to consider if you are going to give this a try yourself, some of the sausage meat escaped in the pot – binding the hearts with strips of bacon would be an authentic and effective way of keeping it all together.
While most medieval peasantry were not feasting on meat every meal, they probably didn’t cater for vegans either. Along with vegetables, a typical medieval diet in south Wales would have included a lot of cheese, eggs and fish.
However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t dishes we can create now to cater for vegan diets using ingredients available to people living in the 14th Century.
Over the August Bank Holiday we set up camp at the magnificent Caerphilly Castle.
One of the dishes I prepared on the Sunday was a lovely mushroom and lentil main. It’s very simple, tasty and easy to recreate at home.
What you’ll need:
- Half a kilo of mushrooms – I used traditional closed cap mushrooms but you can mix this up dependant on the strength of flavour you want
- Two cans of green lentils (you can soak lentils from a bag, but I’m a bit of a cheat)
- Quarter of a cup of olive oil
- A pinch of black pepper
- Mixed herbs (I used a combo of basil, rosemary and thyme)
These amounts serve 4-6 people. Halve the amounts for a good portion for two.
- Soak the lentils in half of the olive oil. Add in all of the black pepper and herbs. Mix together and leave for two hours
- Chop the mushrooms
- Heat the remainder of the olive oil in a pan over the hob/ barbeque/ fire pit
- Fry the mushrooms in the pan
- As they begin to go brown, add in the lentils
- Stir the mix together until it is warmed right through
For the second day of Melee at Cardiff Castle I wanted to cook something quick and simple. I was inspired by “To the King’s Taste” (Lorna J. Sass 1975). Fresh summer vegetables are a frequent item in 14th century menus but there aren’t often recipes involving them as these dishes were too simple to be worth recording.
I used fresh carrots (found in the market by another member). These beautiful colours would have been usual to medieval people; orange carrots only became popular in the last couple of hundred years.
I chopped the carrots and put them to boil in a big pot over a fire of split logs with a little flame and a lot of embers to boil gently. I added salt to the water as with the group working outside all day a little extra salt is necessary.
While the carrots were cooking I started the meat. The sources suggest trimmings from preparing larger joints and offal be chopped very finely . As I was short of time I cheated (this may be a recurring theme) and used 1.6kg of beef mince. I seasoned it with salt, pepper, herbs and about two level tsp of Poudre Douce, a mild spice mix. Every good chef would have their own version of this popular seasoning but it often contained cinnamon, ginger, grains of paradise, nutmeg, sugar and galangal.
The meat was kneaded and shaped into sausages to put on the skewers. I soaked mine overnight so they didn’t catch fire. To cook the meat I put the bakestone over a fire of hot embers to heat up and used a little butter to grease it and check the temperature. When it was sizzling I put the first batch of skewers on to cook.
I added 1kg of frozen peas to the carrots and simmered them while I prepared the second batch of skewers. Once the first batch were browned all over I swapped the second batch on to cook, drained the veg and added spinach, rocket, butter and pepper to it. I put a lid over the veg and knocked the fire down to let it steam in the heat from the pan until the meat was done.
I served it up as fairly as possible to the twelve we had in camp on Sunday and everyone said they enjoyed it very much.
Vegetarian friendly Medieval dish – Cheesy lentils
Jayne Lutwyche sometimes produces authentic medieval meals at our events, cooked over our fire. This recipe, and the stewed lambs’ hearts one which will follow it, were served at Joust! in June 2016.
As Medieval cooks it’s often difficult to find interesting, veggie friendly meals which aren’t pottage-based. Last season we were experimenting with a great dish, which was simple, quick to cook, and delicious.
All you need are:
- Lentils and/or chickpeas
- Cheese – preferably a veggie friendly one (that’s without rennet!)
- Black pepper
The amount you need varies, depending on how many are in your camp. But a rough two-to-one ratio lentils:cheese works.
- To prepare your dish soak your lentils/chickpeas the night before (alternatively buy canned versions, and ensure you store them in something authentic whilst in camp)
- Slice your cheese – as fine as you can as this helps it melt. Chunks also work.
- Get a mortar and pestle and grind a few pinches of black pepper. Other spices can be used – I’ve seen cinnamon recommended to give it a bit of an authentic kick.
- Add your cheese and lentils to a pot. To be very authentic consider using ceramic and placing it in the ashes of your camp fire. If you can’t do this a metal cauldron or pot will do.
- Stir occasionally, mixing in your pepper and spices.
- Cooking time is approximately 20 minutes.
Voila! Delicious – non-pottage – veggie dish or side.
Learn how to bake salmon in a saltdough crust, in an open fire, 14th C style.
It was my pleasure to cook for the group on the Sunday at our recent show at Chepstow castle. I decided to boldly try something I’d never done before. Salmon baked in salt dough. It’s a simple dish, but not without its difficulties. Here’s what I did.
At home, I made up a batch of salt dough. There are numerous recipes on the internet – all very simple. You need around a kilo of flour, 700g of salt a couple of cups of vegetable oil (or you could use melted butter) and a few cups of water. You then have to knead, knead and knead it until it’s very stretchy (this will take a while!). I made two batches using this recipe.
I then took a whole (gutted and filleted) salmon and stuffed it full of herbs (dill, bay, parsley) and lemons (a bit posh for the dish in our period – but a delicious addition nonetheless). Do not add salt! The fish will absorb the salt from the salt dough, adding salt at this stage will make for a very unpleasant meal later on.
I rolled out the salt dough and placed the salmon on it, I then took the rest of my salt dough, rolled it out and covered the top of the salmon. This was not perhaps the best thing to do, as the salt dough slipped off the top of the salon while transporting it in the car from Cardiff to Chepstow. We patched up the salmon at the camp (it’s always useful to have a few kitchen helpers for this – especially when you have a large salmon… ours was 2.5kilos). We then placed, with much care, the salmon in the ashes of the fire. It’s important to get your fire going before you put the fish on it as the salmon bakes in the embers rather than the flames. We buried the fish in the embers and left it to bake for two and a half hours.
This brought us to the very tricky part of the operation. Getting our salmon out of the fire. We have a cook box for our camps (this is safer and causes less damage to the ground when at events). This meant we needed to lever the salmon out of the fire, we used our fire pokers and a sword to get it from the fire to the table. This took the efforts of three people. I’m sure there is an easier way of doing this, perhaps by having a salmon sized board to slip the fish on to but we did not have this at the show (something for next time perhaps?).
We left the fish to rest in its salt dough shell for ten minutes. This allowed the salt dough to cool and crack a bit. We then, to some ceremony, opened the casing to reveal a perfectly cooked salmon. It was delicious and had retained a lot of its moisture. The fish served 13 people. It was served with a side of cheesy chickpeas (chickpeas with cheddar crumbled over them in a pot over the fire. This takes about 20 minutes to cook) and raw kale (kale was in plentiful supply in the UK in the 14th Century. It was actually introduced to Britain by the Romans).
What you’ll need for this recipe:
To make salt dough –
- 1kg of plain flour
- 700g of salt
- 2 cups of vegetable oil (you can also use melted butter)
- 4 cups of water (approx, keep adding until the mixture is slightly sticky and very stretchy)
For the fish itself –
- 1 whole salmon (gutted and filleted)
- Bay leaves
- 1 lemon (sliced)
- Black pepper