I have been beyond insanely super stressed and busy both at work and at home, but I realized I needed to stop and do the things that feed my soul. I got a call on Monday from a very nice gentleman saying he was new to the area and interested in culinary night if it is still available. I hadn't had a culinary guild night since having the mini overlord, and the show of interest was a welcome motivation to get my poop in a group and host again. While I was able to get whole rabbit from the local Asian store, I unfortunately was unable to get rabbit liver, and discovered as I was pulling out the rest of the shelf stable ingredients that I couldn't find my Saba/ grape must that Eduardo had given me_anywhere_. After a brief panic I put on my big girl calming panties and changed plans. We wound up doing the original sauce ingredients suggested in the recipe- vinegar, verjuice (the juice of un-ripened, unfermented grape juice), and honey.
Since he said he was fairly new to historical cooking I opened the night with a brief class and handout introduction to historical cooking, then we dug into interpreting a historical recipe from scratch. A few others showed up as well, so we actually had a pretty good turnout.
Unfortunately something seems to be wrong with my camera so the only photos I got were rather fuzzy, the two below were the best of the bunch, which isn't saying much.I had printouts of the recipe (and had to make a few more since there were more people than I anticipated), which I handed out to everyone so we could discuss how we should proceed with interpreting it.
XVIII. Ciuiro de lepore, over de altra carne.
Se tu voy bon ciuiro, toy lo lepore o altra carne che síano lavate e fane pezole e metile alessare, e toy pane e ardelo sí che sia negro, e metile a moglio in lo axeto, poy toy la cepola e gratala ben como el caxo; po’ toy la carne e la cepola e frigila ben in lardo colato; toy lo suo figato e maxena ben lo pane e colalo e distemperalo con axeo e con mielle, o vero con un cocto, e meti le specie, e fa bollire ogni cosse insiema. Quando ha ben bolito mitilo a refredare e serà bono e perfetto.
Here's the translation we worked from:
XVIII. Civet of hare or of other meat.
If you want a good roast, take the hare or other meat that has been well washed and cut it into pieces and put them to cook, take bread and toast till it is black, and put it to soak in vinegar, then take onions and grate well like cheese, then take the meat and the onions and fry well in clean lard, take its liver and mix well together the bread and the stuff (liver) and temper with verjuice and with honey, or with cooked grape must *, and add the spices and boil everything together. When it is well boiled put it to chill and it will be good and perfect.
Here are the ingredients (except the bread, I somehow forgot to include that in the picture- we used 4 pieces).
Here's what we did
1 whole chicken
4 Tbsp lard
1 large onion
4 slices of bread, toasted
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup verjuice
1 pint water to boil
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
salt to taste (1/4 tsp in this case)
Don browned the bread in the oven, which were then ran through the food processor to turn them into bread crumbs. We browned 4 slices each of both white bread and brown/ wheat bread, but ultimately decided to go with the white bread, which was then soaked in the white wine vinegar. I cut up the chicken in to pieces, breast, thighs & legs, and wings. Lindy grated the onion in my handy cheese grater- she suggested freezing it first in the future as the onion was really getting to her. Don then browned the chicken, and onion in the lard, then set it aside in a pot of water while he browned the liver. It all went into the pot with the verjuice and honey (after we talked a bit about verjuice and everyone got to taste a small shot of it), and was boiled for about 30 minutes. When we opened the pot I was a bit concerned that it might be too sour as it smelled very vinegar-y at first, but when we tasted it I was delighted to discover that it was delicious and nearly perfectly balanced!
What I'd do differently:
Really the only things I can think of for the future (other than wanting to try the rabbit & saba version) is to possibly switch the quantities of vinegar & verjuice as I think that would improve the flavor subtly.
For culinary night I think I'll see if we can possibly start earlier and just jump right in so we'll hopefully be done a bit earlier. Being a new mom I was a bit punch drunk from exhaustion by the end, but very, very happy.