Thursday, June 19, 2008

Chardwarden - Take 1

Sometimes interpreting a medieval recipe is easy - for example, I pretty much got the Peach Tart recipe right on the first try. Other times, like this one, it just doesn't go as expected.

The source recipe is the same one I used for Chardquynce, only I used pears so it would be chardwarden instead.

Chare de Wardone. Take peer Wardons, and seth hem in wine or water; And then take hem vppe, and grinde hem in a morter, and drawe hem thorgh a streynoure with the licour; And put hem in a potte with Sugur, or elle3 with clarefiede hony and canell ynowe, And lete hem boile; And then take hit from the fire, And lete kele, and caste there-to rawe yolkes of eyren, til hit be thik, and caste thereto powder of ginger ynowe; And serue hit forth in maner of Ryse. And if hit be in lenton tyme, leve the yolkes of eyren, And lete the remnaunt boyle so longe, til it be so thikk as though hit were y-tempered with yolkes of eyren, in maner as A man setheth charge de quyns; And then serue hit forth in maner of Rys.
[Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books, T. Austin (ed.)]

I peeled and cut up four good-sized pears and put them with two cups of white wine in a pot on the stove, and cooked them until they were soft (this seemed to take about 5 seconds, but really it was probably more like 15 minutes). Then I puréed them, added sugar, spices, and four egg yolks. I warmed it back up to a low boil ... and it was way too runny.

Huh. This is supposed to be char (i.e. flesh) of pears, not pottage (i.e. soup). I wound up adding 4 more egg yolks to thicken it up, and it worked to a degree but it the final product was still a bit thinner than applesauce. It tasted fantastic, but this was not what was looking for. So where did it go off track?

Pears seem to have a much higher moisture content than quince, so obviously I need to rethink the liquid content. Then there's a matter of an interesting difference between two medieval source recipes. In the recipe above (TFCCB #356) it says to draw the cooked pears through a strainer with the liquid they were cooked in. However, in the same cookbook there is another recipe for chardwarden (TFCCB #34) which is almost identical but says to strain the pears without the liquid. Originally I thought this was a copy error, but given the results of this experiment it may be that it depends on which fruit is being used.

Of course this means I need to try again. Oh, the pain, the horror, the tragedy. Apparently this sort of failure is quite good with a dollop of snowe on top.


Anonymous said...

Your issue is probably because back in ye olde times they used different kinds of pears called warden pears, which were rock hard and horrible to eat raw, but kept really well without refrigeration. Cooking your chardwarden with dessert pears probably would have gone all right if you had found really unripe ones.

Joe said...

I agree about finding the hardest pears you can, but I personally wouldn't use unripe pears because I don't like the green flavor. I prefer my Chardwarden cooked with Burgundy wine rather than a white wine. I love the extra flavor it gives.