Monday, August 1, 2022

Merryell Williams' Book of Recipes (Peniarth MS 513D) - Rice Pottage

Merryell Williams' Book of Recipes
Peniarth MS 513D

This is a volume of cooking and medicinal recipes which were collected by Merryell Williams of the Ystumcolwyn Estate, Montgomeryshire, towards the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century. The manuscript is in English. Within its covers we are given a glimpse of the types of meals created in the kitchens of mid Wales' nobility during this period.

Images of the original manuscript are freely available on the National Library of Wales website.

I have done my best to provide an accurate, but readable transcription. Common abbreviations have been expanded, letters like thorn and yogh have been replaced with their modern equivalents, and some minor punctuation has been added.

Copyright © 2022 by Daniel Myers,

[4] Rice Pottage.  Take a chop of a Neck of Mutton & putt it in the pott with some watter and a quarter of a Pint of Rice well pickt & washed, & when you find the Rice is tender put in a bundle of sweet herbs & a blade of Mace, a Nutmeg grated, 12 Chesnutts, & as many wallnuts pickt clean, boyle all these till they be tender. The broath must not be to thick. The wallnotts & Chesnutts must some be shred very small, & some grosser, when the pottage is well boyled take out the herbs & spice, & put it in a Ladle full of gravie. Season it with sault. Thou may put in the Brain & wings of Pateridges or Capon or Pulletts.

This recipe seems a bit odd compared to older versions of rice pottage, as those are usually much simpler with fewer ingredients (e.g. rice boiled in broth, thickened with almond milk, and colored with saffron) .  That said, it does have a lot in common with the following 17th century recipe:


To boyle Pidgeons with Rice, on the French fashion. Set them to boyle, and put into their bellyes sweet Hearbes, viz. Parsley, tops of young Time: and then put them into a Pipkin, with as much Mutton broth as will couer them, a piece of whole Mace, a little whole Pepper: boyle all these together vntill your Pidgeons be tender. Then take them off the fire, and scum off the fat cleane from the broth, with a spoone, for otherwise it wil make it to taste rancke. Put in a piece of sweet Butter: season it with Uergis, Nutmegge, and a little Sugar: thicken it with Ryce boyled in sweet Creame. Garnish your Dish with preserued Barberyes, and Skirret rootes, being boyld with Uergis and Butter.  [A NEVV BOOKE of Cookerie (England, 1615)]

Both include mutton or mutton broth, "whole" mace, nutmeg, "sweet herbs",  and some kind of game bird.  The "sweet herbs" and whole/blade mace strongly suggests to me the recipes are connected -- though obviously not closely.


No comments: