A Boke of Gode Cookery Presents

To make a stew of flesh

PERIOD: England, late 15th c. | SOURCE: MS Pepys 1047 | CLASS: Authentic

DESCRIPTION: Beef and chicken stewed in wine, herbs, and spices.

Facsimile of receipt from the original manuscript:

Transcription of original receipt:

To make a stew of flesh yf thy potte be .iiij. gallons do yn A quarte of wyn take fayre befe of the fore loyne or of the hynder loyne and mynsitt and take gode Capons with all Take pepur and gode poder of Cannell and gyngere and rasyns of Corance clowse maces saferon & saunders take þer to onyons percelly sage Rosemary tyme ysope saffery hony clarefyed and a quantite of bryssyd Almondys and put ther to and boyll hit vp but thow nedys to have A fayre of colys for byrnyng And not to grete A fyre but small sokyng (1.1) fyre And sokyd well in þe stewyng And loke thy pott be well keverd that the hete go not owte in no wyse And thus stew all maner flesh.

Modern translations:

(1) To make a stew of flesh if thy pot be 4 gallons put in a quart of wine take fair beef of the fore loin or of the hinder loin and mince it and take good capons with all Take pepper and good powder of cinnamon and ginger and raisins of currants cloves maces saffron & sandalwood take there to onions parsley sage rosemary thyme hyssop savory honey clarified and a quantity of bruised almonds and put there to and boil it up but thou need to have a fire of coals for burning and not too great a fire but slow soaking (1.1) fire and soaked well in the stewing and look thy pot be well covered that the heat go not out in no ways and thus stew all manner flesh.

(2) To make a meat stew. If your pot is 4 gallons, put in a quart of wine. Take good beef of the fore loin or of the hind loin and mince it, and add good capons to all of this. Add pepper, good cinnamon powder, ginger, currants, cloves, mace, saffron, & sandalwood. Add onions, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, hyssop, savory, clarified honey, and a large amount of bruised almonds; bring to a boil. But your fire needs to be of coals, and not a large fire but a small fire good for boiling (1.1). Boil thoroughly while it stews. Be sure that the pot is well covered and that no heat escapes in any way. And in this way you can stew all sorts of meat.

(1.1) sokyng - boiling; thoroughly. See Austin, p. 145. A small sokyng fyre is a fire set low enough to keep things cooking at a slow boil or simmer.

Modern version:

  • red wine
  • stewing beef, minced
  • capon in pieces
  • pepper
  • cinnamon
  • ginger
  • currants
  • cloves
  • mace
  • saffron
  • sandalwood
  • onions
  • parsley
  • sage
  • rosemary
  • thyme
  • hyssop
  • savory
  • clarified honey
  • almonds, slightly crushed or bruised
Place wine in a large pot. Add the minced beef and capon pieces. Add the spices, currants, and the coloring agents (saffron for yellow & sandalwood for red). Add the onions and fresh herbs (both presumably chopped), the honey, and the almonds. (If not using clarified honey, you'll need to remove any honey scum that will surface during cooking.) Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low. Let this softly boil or simmer until the stew is thoroughly cooked, keeping the pot covered with a tight fitting lid. (Some cooks may prefer to use a pressure cooker.)

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