Thursday, 26 November 2009

Fylettys en Galentyne.

Another post by Robert to keep things moving along! Enjoy and why not have a try at home?

November, and the winter nights are getting longer, it may be time to think about one of our favourite dishes, part of our menu on Sunday 27th of September. Yes it's fylettys en galentyne, a good dish for the chillier weather, and one of the history recipes that our cooks regularly make at home.

Well, it starts promisingly. 'Take fayre porke, the fore quarter, an take of the skyne; an put the porke on a fayre spete, an rost it half y-now'. This is how we usually do it, put pork on the spit in front of the fire, until roasted a bit more than half done; but on the 27th we put our pork fillets on a griddle over the charcoal stoves. To see what would happen, really...

Fyletes are defined in a note in the Forme of Cury as 'that buth [be] take oute of the pestels [legs]', leg of pork. And another note says 'The loyne of the pork is fro the hippe boon to the hede.', which is similar to the modern term; the modern cutting diagram shows the loin ending about half way to the head. Although the fillet of pork is now a tender cut of the loin; tender because these muscles are 'not used for locomotion'.

Our recipe calls for the front quarter, so we tend not to be too fussy, we usually choose a joint we can get on the spit. Then half roast it, a Forme of Cury version says 'till the blode be tryed out'. And this time we didn't go to the trouble of using the spit. As this dish is so popular with us, we wanted to see how it would turn out making slightly less of a performance of it, hopefully to show our visitors that it could be made at home.

Our recipe continues fairly straightforwardly, cut up the pork, put in a pot (to be fair, it's 'fayre pecys' and a 'fayre potte'). Fry medium cut onions in a pan, and put them with the pork with beef or mutton broth. Add ground pepper, canel, cloves and mace, and boil well. We then thicken with bread, add vinegar and simmer for a bit longer. The recipe says 'tak farye brede, an vynegre, an stepe the brede with the same brothe, an strayne it on blode, with ale, or ellys sawnderys, and salt, an lat hym boyle y-now, an serue it forth'.

I've bothered with this bit because even when a historic recipe is going well, something a bit strange crops up... Blood, ale or sandlewood?

There is a simpler version from the Forme of Cury; 'Drawe a lyour (thickening) of brede and blode and broth and vyneger, and do therinne'. Then boil and add pepper and salt.

Unsurprisingly, the Forme of Cury has also a more complicated version; it goes on a bit, highlights include using bread crusts ground in a mortar, boiling the pork to make it more tender, and adding pepper, sandlewood, parsley, hyssop, red or white wine, grease and raisins.

So there is some scope for making it at home; both Robin and Marc have done this, and I have persuaded them to share their tips...

Marc likes to fry the pork steaks (about half an inch thick) until they start to brown, then fry the onions (three good sized ones for six people) in the pork fat, and put the whole lot in a casserole dish. If you don't have a stock, make one up from stock cubes, beef or lamb, and vegetable, made a bit stronger than usual, de-glaze the pan with it, and add to the dish. Add the spices, ground pepper, mace, two or three cloves and, Marc being a purist, ground cassia. He buys his cassia from an asian supermarket, where it is called 'dalchini'. He uses, as we all do, Robin's method of assessing the spice mix by smelling the mixture, and if one scent predominates, then adjust to make it more harmonious.

Ten or fifteen minutes before ready, take a ladle full of stock and soak bread in it, add vinegar and return to the pot to thicken.

Robin's version is similar, except he likes to grill (broil) the pork, only uses salt and pepper to season, and reduces the mixture by simmering in a saucepan. It really is very easy!

And I find it a useful way to make something nice from left over roast pork.

How about a version we haven't tried yet? This one is from 1500, and with the white wine and ginger should be interesting. I'll quote it in full, in case anybody would like a go...

To make fyletts in galentyne take the beste of rybbes of porke & flee of the skynne & rost the fleshe tyll it be almost ynough than take it of & chop it in peces & put it in a potte with onyons butter or fayre grece and hole clowes maces quibybes and do it togyder with a cruste and trye it through a streynor & white wyne and do therto pouder of peper and put it in the potte and when it boyeth lette it not be chargeaunt & season it up with pouder of gynger & salt & serue it.

So; good luck!

griddling pork

the finished dish

Thanks Robert for that, I have to say that the recipe is genuinely idiot proof.....we really have never had a failure with this dish, yes some are better than others, but I think it would be fair to say that this is one recipe that we rarely have any left-overs at the end of a meal!

The keen eyed amongst you, well those that look at the stuff on the right hand side of the page at least, will have noticed that we'll be in action again this weekend; the last event before the big Christmas blow out!

Lots of roasting things planned for this last weekend along with a few other treats to keep Robert in writing for some time to come....perhaps we'll even persuade Marc H to write something too!


Wednesday, 4 November 2009


So folks, here's another post from Robert.......enjoy!

Still on the 26th of September, I had better speed up a bit: there has been another weekend since my last post, so now I'm heading in both directions at once! Even the recipes that look simple, aren't...

Strawberye is basically strawberry juice thickened with flour. But let's take the first line, 'Take Strawberys, & waysshe hem in tyme of ere in gode red wyne'. Could mean wash before doing the other steps, or, as Marc H suggested, time of year; when they are ripe. And 'wash', sometimes a recipe says something like 'wash it clean', obviously the modern usage. Sometimes in the sense of 'clean' or pitted. Neither works in this case; perhaps some way to 'freshen up' the fruit? The wine being 'good' sounds rather like it's an ingredient.

Then 'strayne thorwe a clothe', Marc now does this by putting the damp strawberries whole in a cloth, really squeezing then twisting to get all the juice out.

Squeezing Strawberries

'& do hem in a potte with with gode Almaunde mylke'. Right, now we have another recipe to look at! Marc made this from scratch, as there was a burner available, and he felt like it.

'To make gode almondys mylke', sugared water boiled and cooled for a bit, then add ground almonds. Of course it's a bit more complicated than this... Marc said it went milky very quickly this time. Pre-ground almonds were used.

Now the thickening part, 'a-lay it with Amyndoun other with flowre of Rys, & make it chargeaunt and lat it boyle'. A handful of rice flour was used. Sometimes there is a clue to the thickness; not so 'chargeaunt' so it can be poured from the bowl, for instance, but not in this case!

Cooking Strawberrye

Then add currants, saffron, pepper, sugar ('grete plentie'), ginger, canel and galengale. Here we have another complication; 'canel'. This is usually taken to mean cinnamon. But there are recipes that call for cinnamon and canel...

We have wandered into an area that is being disputed by historic cooks. There are two candidates; proper cinnamon, delicate and sweet, and cassia, not so delicate and sweet. Both spices are mentioned in the bible, appearing together in an oil to anoint the ark, (no, not that ark, although some fragrance would have helped, I imagine...).

There is a fifteenth century hippocras recipe that has two versions; the 'lord's' has cinnamon, and the 'commoners'' has canel. Marc has adopted a zero-tolerance policy: always using cassia for 'canel'. One history of spice textbook, while examining in detail the cinnamon/cassia debate, sidesteps the issue by not even having 'canel' in the index. I expect the blog will go into a lot more detail about this as we go through the year: any comments?

Now, typically, punctuation complicates things. After the list of spices it continues 'poynte it with Vynegre, & a lytil whyte grece put ther-to; coloure it with Alkenade, & droppe it a-bowte, plante it with the graynys of Pome-garnad, & than serue it forth'. Reading the semi-colon in the modern way, the fat goes in with the spices and vinegar, and the whole thing coloured with alkanet. You need a lot of alkanet to change to strawberry colour... It does make more sense to colour the fat with the alkanet, which is fat soluble. Marc says the coloured drops of white fat should be strewn about the surface like glistening orangey/red jewels...

Finished Dish

A good berry to choose, as Andrew Boorde says: 'Strawburyes, be praysed aboue al buryes for they do qualyfye the heate of the lyuer, & dothe ingender goode blode eaten with sugar'.


Along with all the above that Robert sent for posting, he also included the picture below.....I'm guessing from Halloween but it could just as well have been from the Palace Ghost Tour on the Sunday night......perhaps I should have asked him eh?


West Front Pumpkins