Monday, December 13, 2010

A Capon Recipe for the Solstice?

I've got two "big" dinners to cook next weeks.  The first is a solstice dinner for my immediate family and a couple friends (Hi Kristen & Shane!), and the second is Christmas eve dinner for the family and in-laws.  This means that right now I spend a good amount of time musing over potential menus.

While I focus almost entirely on traditional new-world foods for thanksgiving dinner, I've tended towards medieval English foods for the solstice (and Christmas eve dinner ends up being an attempt at more fancy foods).

For the solstice dinner this year, I think I'd like to roast a capon.  But which recipe should I choose?

A search of the online medieval cookbooks finds heaps of poultry recipes, dozens of which are for capons.  However, the majority of the capon recipes are boiled rather than roasted.  I sifted through a bunch of the more interesting ones and came across two likely candidates.

Capon or goos roste. To rost capon or gose tak and drawe his leuer and his guttes at the vent and his grece at the gorge and tak the leef of grece parsly ysope rosmarye and ij lengs of saige and put to the grece and hew it smale and hew yolks of eggs cromed raissins of corans good poudurs saffron and salt melled to gedure and fers the capon there withe and broche hym and let hym be stanche at the vent and at the gorge that the stuffur go not out and rost hym long with a soking fyere and kep the grece that fallithe to baist hym and kepe hym moist till ye serue hym and sauce hym with wyne and guingere as capons be.  [A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)]

Capoun in Salome. Take a Capoun and skalde hym, Roste hym, then take thikke Almaunde mylke, temper it wyth wyne Whyte other Red, take a lytyl Saunderys and a lytyl Safroun, and make it a marbyl coloure, and so atte the dressoure throw on hym in ye kychoun, and throw the Mylke a-boue, and that is most commelyche, and serue forth.  [Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books (England, 1430)]

Both of these sound interesting, though I'm leaning towards the first one as the herb and currant stuffing sounds more holiday-like to me.

For side dishes, I may go with some "garnished" or roasted turnips, or maybe compost (pickled root vegetables).  I'll want something green as well - maybe Brussels sprouts (they're the traditional holiday vegetable in England, aren't they?).

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