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I finally managed to procure some boar meat, as well as the rabbit and venison called for in the three recipes that had been holding me up from Libro di cucina/ Libro per cuoco. I was already planning on heading north for the historical food demo at Ursulmas that Fiamma does every year, and I asked if the mini overlord and I could stay over and perhaps even test these recipes for dinner. She happily agreed to both and after gathering epic amounts of stuff I headed north.  
 

XIV. Ciuiro overo sauore negro a cengiaro.
Se tu [voy] fare savore negro a porcho salvazo, toy la carne soa ben cocta e ben batuta e ben pesta in mortaro, e toy medola de pan ben arsa che sia ben negra e ben mogliata in aceto e ben macinata per si e ben colata e mescolata con la carne macinata, e metige pevere longo, e melegette, e zenzevro, e ben pesto queste tre cosse a lo speciale, e mectile suso il savore con aceto e con brodo magro de la carne, e meti a bolire questo savore per si in uno vaso.  Questo savore de’ essere negro e possente de specie e agro da aceto.
XIV Ciuiro or sauce black to ash gray for boar
If you want to make a black sauce, take meat that is well roasted/cooked and beat it to a paste in a mortar, and take the middle (no crusts) of bread and toast until it is black.  Soak this toasted bread in vinegar, break it up and sieve it well and mix it with the shredded meat.  Add long pepper, grains of paradise and ginger and grind these three things to a smooth paste.  Put the above meat paste a sauce made with vinegar and with lean broth of the meat, and boil this stew/sauce in a pan.   This sauce should be black and strong with spices and sharp with vinegar. *Ciuiro is actually a term for a specific style of stew, most likely related to the French civet.

 

Ingredients: The meats left to right are rabbit, boar roast and venison. Behind that is the toast, and in front of the boar roast is the spices called for in the original, long pepper, grains of paradise, and ginger. At the end it also mentions that the sauce should be “black and strong with spices” so I’ve also chosen to interpret that as including the black and strong spice mix from this same manuscript. There are both balsamic and red wine vinegar in the photo, but I only used the red wine vinegar. I have used balsamic for this recipe in the past and been quite happy with the results, but not being able to document its use in Venice at this time I decided to go the route I could most easily prove they had and used at the time for the sake of historical accuracy.  

Let there be Toast! Not so light as to not add any color, and not so dark as to make it taste burnt. Here the toast has had all the crusts cut off, and then cubed in preparation for being broken up, soaked in vinegar and sieved before being added to the sauce ’m pushing the toasted, red wine vinegar soaked bread crumbs through a sieve, presumably this was to eliminate any chunks and help the texture of the sauce.
                                                                I’m adding some of Fiamma’s  fantastic  homemade pork broth, The color, and flavor was perfect. I used that for the boar sauce. Here’s the boar plated, with the accompanying sauce over the top.                                                                
XV. Ciuiro over sauore a ceruo, etc.
Se tu voy fare carne de ceruo alessa, fai fare lo savore de la carne soa similmente come quella dauante ed è bono.
XV Ciuiro or relish for hind (deer, venison) etc.
If you want to make meat of hind boiled, you can make the stew of the meat as in the previous recipe and it is good.                                  
Since the venison recipe is a variant of the boar one, but seems to specifically call for it to be boiled, that’s what I did instead of roasting it like I did the boar. After it was boiled tender I started fork shredding it but I felt the texture wasn’t fine enough so I used my food processor as a modern substitute for “grinding it to a smooth paste” for the sauce.  Here’s the rest of the venison before the sauce was added.
XVI. Ciuiro a carne de cavriolo o de livore alesso o rosto per lo megliore che tu voy, etc.
Fai similmente como è dito de sovra del porcho salvazo, e se tu dà questa saluaxine calde, uole metir in lo savore; e se sono frede metigele.
XVI Ciuiro for meat of roebuck or of hare
Boil or roast the meat for the best (result) that you want, etc.  Make it in the same way as that given above for the boar.  And if you put this dish hot you want to put it in the sauce and if you want it cold mix them (together without heating)    

                                           
After Andrew (Fiamma’s husband and also a dear friend) showed us how to properly cut a whole rabbit, Eleanor pitched in and helped brown it before went into the pot for a boil as well.  Here’s the rabbit after boiling and plating, but before the sauce is added, and the sauc. It’s interesting that for this third and final variation, you are given the option of either boiling or roasting and it’s suggested that this dish would also work well either hot or cold. When I had done this recipe before, I tried it with a pork loin and made the sauce with balsamic. We toasted the bread until it was black and while the color came out closer to how I had imagined it, the burnt flavor completely overwhelmed the rest of the flavors.

Our mascot and part of the reason I haven’t been able to work and post here as much over the past several months. The mini overlord, my son Conner.

  

XIV Ciuiro or sauce black to ash gray for boar

What we did-

12 oz of wild boar seasoned and seared on the outside in a hot pan (about 2 minutes per side), then roasted in an oven at 350 until it read 160 on the meat thermometer (about 30 minutes). I let the meat rest for about 10 minutes before cutting a chunk to shred and add to the sauce. I deglazed the pan with the pork broth to get all the wonderful flavors from the roast drippings. The sauce wound up being ¾ cup pork broth, ½ cup shredded boar, ½ cup breadcrumbs soaked in red wine vinegar and 1/8 tsp each ground ginger, ground long pepper, ground grains of paradise, and the black and strong spice mix. The rest of the roast was then cut into slices and plated with the sauce pored over top. It was delicious, but a bit chewy and a bit pucker.

 

What I’d do differently next time-

I’d still sear the boar, but I’d slow roast it. Optimally I’d rotisserie cook it at about 250-300 for much longer until it still reached a core temperature of at least 150-160. I’m still looking into documentation for balsamic and if I can satisfy myself that they might have logically used it (or you’re more concerned with appearance and flavor than historical accuracy) I would recommend using balsamic instead of red wine vinegar. In either case I would dial back the vinegar pucker factor a bit, and at least double the amount of spices used. I also want to revisit this and try it with other kinds of bread. I would say that while there definitely is a taste and texture difference between the pork loin and wild boar roast that with the sauce the pork is a close enough approximation that I would feel comfortable serving it as a substitution if boar is hard to come by.

 

A wild boar or pork loin (12-16 oz)

Bread- good quality wheat or white, 1 loaf

Red wine or balsamic vinegar 1 cup

1 cup pork broth

½ tsp powdered ginger

½ tsp powdered grains of paradise

½ tsp powdered long pepper

½ tsp black & strong spice mix

½ tsp sea salt

Remove the crusts from the bread; toast it until it’s as dark as possible without burning. Cube the toast then crush it in a mortar and pestle or run through a food processor until completely ground. Soak ½ the bread crumbs in the vinegar, reserve the rest for thickening as needed. Pre-heat the oven and a roasting pan at 300 or prepare a rotisserie. Rub the roast/ loin with ½ the spices and pan sear in a bit of lard or EVOO, 2 minutes each side or until it’s nice and brown all around.  Roast/ rotisserie until it reads at least 150 on a meat thermometer. While that roasts sieve the bread crumbs with the largest gage strainer you can find (you want to remove any large chunks but have enough solids to thicken the sauce).  Let rest 5 minutes and remove a portion of the roast- make a foil tent for the rest while you make the sauce. Shred the small portion of the roast for the sauce, as fine as possible either by hand, in a mortar and pestle or in a good food processor until smooth. Put the roast on a pre-heated serving dish and de-glaze the roasting pan with the pork broth, then add the meat, spices and sieved breadcrumbs & vinegar until you are satisfied with the taste & texture. Add salt to taste and serve sauce either over, or to the side of the roast.  

 

XV Ciuiro or relish for hind (deer, venison) etc.

What we did-

The description of the venison version sounded to me like it was the same flavor profile (except for what the different meat brings to the dish), but instead of specifying cooking/ roasting, it implies that it should be a stew like dish. I had made a large batch of the bread crumbs in vinegar so I used that same base for all three sauces. I removed the bone from the meat, cubed it, seared it in a pan then boiled it until tender. Once the meat was done a removed a portion and started to shred it by hand, but wasn’t happy with how fine I was able to get it by shredding it with forks so I ran it through the food processor to get it to nearly a paste. I then added some of the broth, spices and sieved breadcrumbs w/ vinegar.

 

What I’d do differently-

I’m pretty happy with this one, although like the other two I feel the sauce should have been more “black”

Venison (8-10 oz)

Bread- good quality wheat or white, 1/2 loaf

Red wine or balsamic vinegar 1/2 cup

1 cup pork broth

¼ tsp powdered ginger

¼ tsp powdered grains of paradise

¼ tsp powdered long pepper

¼ tsp black & strong spice mix

½ tsp sea salt

Remove the crusts from the bread; toast it until it’s as dark as possible without burning. Cube the toast then crush it in a mortar and pestle or run through a food processor until completely ground. Soak ½ the bread crumbs in the vinegar, reserve the rest for thickening as needed. Chop the venison into stewmeat- approximately 1’ cubes. Toss the cubed venison with ¼ the spices and pan sear in a bit of lard or EVOO, 2 minutes each side or until it’s nice and brown all around.  Boil until tender and completely done by meat thermometer. While that boils sieve the bread crumbs with the largest gage strainer you can find (you want to remove any large chunks but have enough solids to thicken the sauce).  Remove small portion of the meat (approx. 1/4-1/2 cup) Shred the small portion of the meat for the sauce, as fine as possible either by hand, in a mortar and pestle or in a good food processor until smooth. Mix the broth, meat, spices and sieved breadcrumbs & vinegar until you are satisfied with the taste & texture then add this to the drained bulk of the meat. Serve in a deep platter or bowl. Add salt to taste.

 

 

XVI Ciuiro for meat of roebuck or of hare
What we did-

This recipe calls for the meat to be either roasted or boiled. I was concerned about the meat being too tough so we decided to boil it. I already had the

 

1 whole rabbit, cleaned (10-16 oz, bone in)

Bread- good quality wheat or white, 1/2 loaf

Red wine or balsamic vinegar 1/2 cup

1 cup pork broth

¼ tsp powdered ginger

¼ tsp powdered grains of paradise

¼ tsp powdered long pepper

¼ tsp black & strong spice mix

½ tsp sea salt


What I'd do differently-
Not much really. I wouldn't mind trying this again with roasting, slow and low to tenderize the meat as much as possible because rabbit can get a bit tough. Like this whole set of sauces, I felt they weren't "black" enough. There's currently much disccusion on the cook's list about balsamic and I'm hopeful that we'll collectively dig deep enough for me to feel comfortable using it in the future for this and other appropriate applications. Many, many thanks to those who are contributing to the discussion, most especially Johnnae/ Johnna Holloway, David/ Eduardo and a million, million thanks to Fiamma who aside from being a gracious hostess was the one who first introduced me to this manuscript and to Helewyse/ Louise for sharing her translations! 

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