Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Potage of Venison

The English and French Cook [1674]

Now for the second part of my venison series!

This would probably make poor Mrs. Kellogg cry.

Potage of Venison.
Take a Haunch of Venison, and cut it into six pieces, and place them in the bottom of a Pan or Pot, then put in no more Water than will cover it, let it boil, then scum it, after that add to it a good quantity of whole Pepper; when it is half boiled, put in four whole Onions, Cloves, and large Mace, some sliced Ginger, Nutmeg, three or four faggots of sweet Herbs,

I had no faggots of sweet herbs. :'(

let it boil till the Venison be very tender, and a good part of the broth be wasted; after this pour out the broth from the meat into a Pipkin, keep your Venison hot in the same Pot by adding other hot broth unto it; then take a couple of red-Beet roots, having very well parboil'd them before, cut them into square pieces as big as a shilling, and put them into the broth which is in your Pipkin, and let them boil till they are very tender, add unto the boiling four Anchovies minced,

Yes, I really did. For science.

then dish up your Venison on Sippets of French-bread, then pour on your broth, so much as will near-upon fill the Dish, then take your roots by themselves, and toss them in a little drawn Butter, and lay them all over the Venison; if the Beets be good, it will make the broth red enough, which you must have visible round about the Dish sides, but if it prove pale, put to it some Saunders: This is a very savory Potage.


The peculiar blend of flavors (to modern taste buds) makes it taste oddly of pickled beets with red meat. I could taste the anchovies not at all, which was actually kind of a let-down after being brave enough to throw them in. It was so very dry and tough, but that is not necessarily the recipe's fault. When simmering meat, the longer you simmer it, the tougher it gets until a certain point, when it gets more and more tender. Unfortunately, I was impatient and impetuous, qualities which lead to the ruination of many dishes. If you are an impatient and impetuous type who wishes to recreate this dish, I highly recommend the use of a slow cooker.

The quality of this dish which occasioned the most comment was the color. The beets turned the sauce a deep, rich, gorgeous red. Disturbingly, however, it was also precisely the color of fresh blood. When poured over the meat, the color made it seem like it was almost raw. The speedy absorption caused by the dryness of the meat made it look like it was oozing blood, a quality you cannot fully appreciate in the pictures. In person, it looks almost precisely like very very rare meat swimming in coagulating blood.

Not bad though, in the end, if you like pickled beets. Which I do. I can recommend it as long as you 1.) take the time (or the slow cooker) to cook the meat until it is tender, ignoring my bad example and 2.) are not a person turned off by the description above.


Karen K. said...

Did you use pickled beets or fresh? I love beets -- my mother in law makes this amazing chicken salad with beets and it turns MAGENTA. I was a little scared the first time I tried it but it's wonderful, if you like beets.

And what are Saunders?

Jana said...

I used fresh. Saunders, or Pterocarpus stanalinus, is, my medieval sources tell me, a tree whose bark can be used for making red dye. Mmmm. Bark.

Jenny Jo said...

This sounds like a recipe that is meant to take your stewmeat cuts of venison and give them the bloody color of a nice rare steak. Cause that's more appetizing? Maybe?

Jana said...

Maybe! Mmmmmmmm, blood.

Karen K. said...

I think there's a red dye commonly used which is actually made from insects. Yummy!

Jana said...

Yup, cochineal. Mmmmmm.

Jana said...

I shall invent a recipe using bark, blood, and bugs. Yummy!

Nonna said...

The heck with Mrs. Kellogg...I love beets with anything...that looks and sounds fab !!!

Jana said...

And you've got venison! This may be the recipe for you.

Nonna said...

Yeah, my hubs bagged a 150 lb. deer this year. I may try this for New Year's dinner !!!

Jana said...

If you do, let me know what you think!