Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Trio of Medieval Stews

Yesterday I was responsible for a lunch for my local SCA  group. The person running the event wanted hearty stews. Turns out to have been a good choice, as it was a cold and rainy day. I apologize for no pictures, I'd intended to take pictures, but was so focused on getting service out that I forgot. I really need to remember to find someone to be responsible for photos.

I'd spent a little time looking for interesting winter stews. I like to try to do foods at least inspired by Medieval or Renaissance recipes. I'm most concerned with providing a delicious, filling, satisfying meal, but it is nice to support the atmosphere with food that is at least consistent with period.

I ended up going with three options. For the first, I went with a middle eastern lamb stew. I was inspired by this recipe.  It is based on a recipe from the Al-Bagdadi cookbook. My version had boneless leg of lamb cut into bite sized pieces, and simmered with cinnamon stick and fresh coriander. I made a spice mix of black pepper, long pepper, grains of paradise, and coriander seed. I used that mix to season the lamb. I added onion, leek, and carrot by way of vegetables. I added raisins and dried Turkish figs. The stew was also flavored with red wine vinegar and honey.

I wanted a poultry option for the second choice. I was inspired by this recipe. I thought it could easily be modified to a stew. I used a mix of boneless chicken thighs and breasts cut into bite sized pieces. I simmered the chicken in chicken stock and moscato. I added celery and onions, as well as dates and currants. I added a little sugar to balance the stew, and seasoned it with ground mace and fresh ground black pepper. About five minutes before service, I added orange supremes.

For the third choice, I wanted a vegan option. I found this recipe based on an ancient Greek recipe. I used red lentils, and added carrots, leeks, onions, and celery. It was flavored with a little red wine vinegar and honey. I provided a little olive oil and crushed coriander seed to garnish the stew, as desired.

I made sourdough rolls, multi-grain rolls, and gluten free scones by way of bread. Yeah, I know, modern scones are not in anyway period. They are, however, a way of providing a gluten free bread option that I feel confident will be tasty. Good gluten free bread is just difficult to do,

All three of these recipes came out the way I intended. The broth for the lamb was particularly tasty.


Spice Mix for Lamb

4 long pepper pods
1 Tbsp. black peppercorns
2 tsp. grains of paradise
2 tsp. coriander seeds

Place all ingredients in a spice grinder. Grind to a fine powder.

Sikbaj (Lamb with Raisins and Figs)

2 lbs. lamb, cut into 3/4" cubes
1/2 onion, diced
1 leek, tough tops removed, diced
1/2 lb. carrots, diced
1 small bunch cilantro
1/2 cinnamon stick
3 oz. raisins
2 oz. Turkish figs, diced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. Spice Mix for Lamb
salt to taste

Heat olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat. Add lamb, cooked until browned on all sides. Season with Spice Mix and salt. Add water to cover, add cinnamon stick and bunch of cilantro. Bring to a simmer, cook for one hour. 

Remove cinnamon and cilantro. Add vegetables and more Spice Mix and salt to taste. Simmer one hour. 

Add figs, raisins, vinegar, and honey. simmer one hour.

Adjust seasoning, serve.

Chicken with Oranges and Currants

2 lbs. boneless chicken breasts and thighs, cut into bite size pieces
1 pint chicken stock
1 pint moscato wine
1/2 stalk celery, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 3/4 oz. dates, diced
2 oz. currants
2 1/2 oranges peeled, cut into supremes
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. ground mace
sugar to taste
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat. Add chicken, brown on all sides. Add stock and wine. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer one hour,

Add vegetables and dried fruit. Add mace. Simmer one hour.

Add sugar as necessary. Add orange segments. Simmer five minutes. Adjust seasoning as necessary, then serve.

Zeno's Lentil Stew

1 lb. red lentils, rinsed
1 quart vegetable stock
water as needed
1 leek, tough tops removed, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 lb. carrots, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp. honey
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil and crushed coriander for garnish

In a stock pot over medium heat, combine lentils and stock. Simmer until lentils are tender, about an hour. Add water as necessary to keep lentils covered. 

Add vegetables and simmer until tender. Add vinegar and honey. Season with salt and pepper.

Optionally, garnish a bowl of stew with a dollop of olive oil and a pinch of crushed coriander seeds.

Happy eating!

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