Wednesday, 9 June 2010

To Stewe Mutton

First off, many many thanks to all of you who have taken the time to complete the little survey in the earlier has proved to be most instructive, especially when combined with all the 'usual' information that I have...essentially, the bulk of respondents are new to HELLO! Hopefully you'll stick around for a bit or at least pop in now and then to see how things are ticking along, I can't promise much more than there already is, but hopefully that's interesting enough for you.

I've still got lots to sort out image wise, including a video if I can find where I put the memory card...but that's going to have to take a little bit of a back seat for a day or so as the talks I'm sorting out and the paper I'm writing need to take does sorting out plans for the July weekend and beyond...and add to that the pressing need to replace the main hard drive in the computer and you'll get an idea of how things are at the moment....hectic, still as I said before, all my fault for procrastinating too long!

For now though I've just stuck 22 images up on Flickr that document Robin making the recipe.....

for to stewe mutton.

Take a necke of mutton and a brest to make the broth strong and then scome it cleane/ & when it hath boiled a while take part of the brothe & put it into an other pot & put there to a pounde of reiysyns & let them boyle till thei be tendre then strayne a little brede with the reysyns & the broth altogether/ then chop tyme/ sauery/ and perseley with other small herbes and put in to the mutton then put in the streyned reyiyns with whole prunes/ cloues/ mace/ peper/ saffron and a little salte/ & if ye list ye maie stewe a chiken withall orels sparowes or suche other little birdes.

As is usually the way, Robin didn't follow the recipe exactly as written, both by intention and by mistake...although I don't really think it makes any great difference to the finished dish myself...and you have to remember all of this is done whilst engaging in witty banter/in depth discussion with the public....quite a lot of them again this weekend too, with talk of 3500 ticket sales in one day!

The process that he followed begins by discussing with Robert (in this case) and noting the ingredients needed so that they can all be collected together.

Recipe Conflab

The meat was then chopped into sensible sized pieces and placed in the chosen pot with sufficient water for the job

preparing the neck of mutton

preparing the breast

filling the pot with the mutton

and now the water

The liquid had the scum removed as it formed and was boiled until no more scum formed

the scum rises

It was here that Robin chose to depart slightly from the recipe, mostly because of time (it was near the end of the day by this time) and because of the amount of bones that were present in the neck.
Choosing to remove the meat from the bones

picking off the meat

he let the raisins soak overnight in the broth before returning to finish the dish the next day.
Rather than strain the boiled raisins and bread and add them back to the rest of the stock, he chose to boil the lot then pass it through a sieve...

chopping up the bread

chopping the herbs

straining the mix

I'm pretty sure that the decision to do this was simply a time constraint one....there was plenty of it and he wanted to kill time by passing the mix through the strainer whilst talking to all of our visitors....pretty much a relaxing afternoon I's certainly why he chose to use the wooden pestle for the job as using his hand to push the mix through would have taken far far less time.

After putting the mix back into a clean pot and then adding the final ingredients...the saffron, the salt, the prunes etc. and not forgetting the meat itself....although this seems to have been a waste of time as the flavour had all been extracted and put into the stock, the whole was brought up to heat before serving in a bowl.....the sparrows or other birds were left out as they are optional in the recipe.....and not exactly something we can get hold of to use today.

the finished mutton stewe

It certainly smelt good, but was far too fruity for my tastes....I don't 'do' the meat and fruit combo much any more having overdone it in the past. The rest of the guys tried it and the reception ran from 'hmm, not bad' to 'meh!'
I wouldn't say that we'll not bother doing it again as I'd like to see somebody else's interpretation of the recipe, but I think I can safely say it won't be for a while yet.

Hope that all makes some sense, there are a few different images at the Flikr page which will fill in any missing detail, so pop over and take a look.
As I said at the top, a new hard drive is on the plans for tomorrow, so as soon as that is sorted out I'll get on with sorting the other images and the elusive video too....don't get your hopes up too much for that though, it's only a quickie of Robert trying out a bit of an experiment in shredding chicken meat.



terrylove said...

I can't help feeling this is one of those dishes that is to demonstrate the person paying is rich enough to pay someone to faff about for ages.

It strikes me that with the same ingredients you could end up with a tasty dish, (but not the same), a lot simpler and quicker.

I also can't help feeling even a Tudor would have tarted up the appearance a little with a sprig of something - brown goo has never been attractive.

Doc said...

Great pictures and writeup - thanks!

Just curious, but what was your reasoning for the final product being more of a solid than something stew or soup like?

I ask because the recipe is very similar to a stewed capon recipe from A Book of Cookrye (England, 1591) that I've made recently, only what I ended up with was more of a thick soup.