Medieval Recipes: Charlet

A Christmas Eve or Christmas Day dinner in the Middle Ages included bread, cheese, ale, and wine, as well as rich and extravagant dishes and a lot of sweets, delicacies, and treats. Simple but hearty dishes make for delicious medieval Christmas options, for example, stewed chicken or beef, pork, ham, and bacon served with mustard.

Get a taste of Christmas past with these medieval cooking ideas for Christmas, New Year’s, and other celebrations taken from old manuals and books. Explore what people used to eat for the holidays, and recreate some of these unique historical recipes to share with family and friends. 

Medieval Drinks

Clarrey (Reinterpretation)

Ingredients

  • One bottle of sweet white wine
  • 1 or 2 cups of honey
  • 1 tbs. cinnamon, galingale or ginger and cardamom (of each)
  • 1 tbs white pepper
  • Cheesecloth

Instructions

“Take kanel & galinga, greyns de paris, and a lytel peper, & make pouder, & temper hit wyt god wyte wyne & the þrid perte honey & ryne hit þorow a cloþ.”

Boil the wine and honey, reduce the heat and skim off the scrum as it rises. Continue adding honey as you deem necessary, then remove from the heat and stir in the spices. Let the mix sit covered for 24 hours. Then, remove the residue of spices and pass the wine into another container using a strainer with two or three layers of cheesecloth. Bottle and wait at least one month before serving.

Punch

Ingredients

  • One quart of Brandy
  • 2 quarts of water
  • Lemons
  • 4 ounces of sugar

Instructions

Mix all ingredients with glee!

Medieval Soups and Appetizers

Gyngerbrede (Ginger Bread)

Medieval portable pie oven 1465-1475 Illumination; wood fired baking oven from 1465-1475, "A pie-baker", Konzil von Konstanz ÖNB 3044, fol. 48v.
  • 1 loaf of wheat bread, grounded into breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup of honey
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ginger

Instructions

“Gyngerbrede. Take a quart of hony, & sethe it, & skeme it clene; take Safroun, pouder Pepir, & þrow þer-on; take gratyd Brede, & make it so chargeaunt þat it wol be y-lechyd; þen take pouder Canelle, & straw þer-on y-now; þen make yt square, lyke as þou wolt leche yt; take when þou lechyst hyt, an caste Box leves a-bouyn, y-stykyd þer-on, on clowys. And 3if þou wolt haue it Red, coloure it with Saunderys y-now.” (Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books, T. Austin ed.)

Boil the honey, reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove any scum that forms on the surface and add pepper, cinnamon, and ginger. Add the bread crumbs one cup at a time and mix and knead thoroughly. Divide the mixture into quarters and roll out, then cut into 1-inch squares. You can dust with a mix of one part cinnamon to two parts sandalwood. The bread can also be molded. 

Gode Broth (Reinterpretation)

Tredure - Photo

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup of stale bradcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/8 tbs cardamom
  • A pinch of saffron
  • 1/2 tbs salt
  • 2 tbs lemon juice

Instructions

Boil the stock, then reduce the temperature. Beat the rest of the ingredients (except the lemon juice) together, then pour into the stock off the heat and beat. Simmer for a few minutes to thicken and serve with lemon juice. 

Christmas Potage or Plum Broth (Original)

Plum broth or Christmas potage - Recipe

Ingredients

  • A leg of beef
  • A good slice of mutton
  • Some grated bread
  • Some prunes
  • A few raisins and currants
  • A little whole spice, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger mace
  • Salt and sugar
  • Some verjuice.

Instructions

(From the Wellcome Trust)

“Take a leg of beef and a good slice of mutton and put it in a pot with some water and set it over the fire, and when it boileth put in some grated bread and some prunes and a little whole spice.

An hour after put in some raisins and currants and let it boil leisurely. And when it is boiled enough season it with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger mace, and salt, and then sweeten it with sugar to your taste.

Put in some verjuice. Serve it up with a little bread put in the dishes.”

Pescodde (Original)

Peas and Bacon

Ingredients

  • Peas pods
  • Bacon
  • Salt butter (or butter and salt)

Instructions

“In new peas cooked to be eaten in the pod, you must add bacon on a meat day: and on a fish day, when they are cooked, you separate the liquid and add underneath melted salt butter, and then shake it.”

Rinse the pea pods and trim off the stems. Bring water to a boil and add bacon, add pea pods, reduce heat and simmer until the pea pods are tender. Remove the bacon, drain, salt and serve with butter and salt. 

Medieval Pies and Stews

Coneys in Gravy (Original)

Rabbit Stew

Ingredients

  • Rabbits
  • Almond Milk
  • Grated Bread or Wheat Starch
  • Cloves or Ginger
  • Wine or Sugar
  • Water

Instructions

“Seethe well your coneys in clear water,
After, in cold water you wash them separately,
Take milk of almonds, mix it anon
With grated bread or amidon (wheat starch);
Season it with cloves or good ginger;
Boil it over the fire,
Hew the coneys, put them thereto,
Season it with wine or sugar then.”

How to Make your own Amidon (Wheat Starch)

“Take wheat and steep it 9 days;
Thus change your water each day anon.
Bruise it quite small in a mortar,
Seethe it with milk and water withal.
Through a hair sieve look you strain it,
And let it stand and settle by;
Pour out the water, in cloth it lay,
Till it is dry you turn it aye.
This is a thickening as men say,
Thereof I shall speak more plainly.”

Mince Pies (Original)

Mince pie - Recipe

Ingredients

  • A large fat neat’s tongue
  • 2 1/2 pounds of beef kidney suet
  • 2 1/4 pounds of currants
  • 1/2 pounds of raisins
  • 6 large pippins
  • 1/4 pounds of dates
  • 1/4 of orange, lemon, and citron peel (of each)
  • 2 whole nutmegs
  • 2 drams of mace, cinnamon, and cloves (of each)
  • 1 or 2 lemons
  • 6 pennyworth of ambergris
  • Salt, sugar, sack and rosewater.

Instructions

(From the Wellcome Trust)

“Take a large fat neat’s tongue, parboil it, and take off the hard outside. Then take two pound of the choicest of it, then put it to two pound and a half of the best beef kidney suet, two pound and a quarter of the best currants, half a pound of raisins of the sun, stoned and minced very fine, six of the best largest pippins – either scrape them or mince them till they are a perfect pulp.

Put in a quarter of a pound of dates sliced, of orange, lemon and citron peel, of each a quarter of a pound, two whole nutmegs, three drams of mace, two of cinnamon and one of cloves. You must dry your spice before the fire, then beat it and sift it.

You must put in one or two large maligo lemons – the peel must be grated amongst the sweetmeats, that is all the yellow of it, and the juice must be squeezed among the sack and rosewater. Put in six pennyworth of ambergris and let it be bruised among the spice. You must put in salt, sugar, sack and rosewater according to your taste.

The tongue must be chopped as fine as is possible. The suet must be shred very fine and sifted through a coarse hair sieve. You may put in great lumps of marrow but then less suet will serve. You may slice all your sweetmeats thin but do not cut the pieces too small.”

Leche Lumbard or Pea Pod Meat Loaf (Reinterpretation)

Forme of Cury

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of ground pork
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of currants
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 tbs of salt
  • Rosemary.

For the sauce:

  • 3/4 cup of red wine
  • 1/2 cup of raisins
  • 1/4 cup of red wine
  • 1 1/2 cup of almond milk
  • 1/4 tbs of black pepper, cinnamon and powdered ginger (of each)
  • 1/8 tbs of saffron
  • Rosemary.

Instructions

Preheat oven at 350° while mixing the ground pork with the eggs, the sugar, the spices, and the salt. Divide the mix into three parts. Mpold one into a long and narrow shape with a groove running down the middle. Mold the remaining mixture into meatballs and place inside the first third as if peas in a pod. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. 

In a bowl, mash the raisins to a paste and then blend with 1/4 cup of wine. Combine the almond milk with the mix and add pepper, rosemary and saffron. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and stir constantly for ten minutes. Add cinnamon and ginger and let cool and thicken. If the sauce is too thick, stir in more wine.

Allow the meat loaf to cool and then scoop out the space around the “peas”. Place on a serving platter with the sauce in a separate bowl. 

Venison in Broth (Original)

Venyson in Broth

Ingredients

  • Venison ribs
  • Chopped parsley
  • Sage, black pepper, cloves and mace
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Red wine

Instructions

“Take Rybbys of Venysoun, and wasshe hem clene in fayre water, an strayne þe same water þorw a straynoure in-to a potte, an caste þer-to Venysoun, also Percely, Sawge, powder Pepyr, Clowys, Maces, Vynegre, and a lytyl Red wyne caste þer-to; an þanne latte it boyle tyl it be y-now, & serue forth.”

Place the ribs in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, add all spices and red wine and return to boil. Reduce heat and continue simmering until the venison is completely cooked. 

Kede Roasted (Reinterpretation)

Kede Roasted

Ingredients

  • 4 to 6 pounds of lamb roast or kid
  • 1/2 cups of wine vinegar
  • Salt

Instructions

Preheat oven at 450° and place the roast in a pan with the fat side up. Reduce heat to 180° and roast for thirty minutes. Sprinkle with vinegar and salt before serving. 

Medieval Desserts

Blanc Mange (Original)

Blancmange - Recipe
Blancmange

Ingredients

  • Rice
  • Almond Milk
  • Chicken
  • Sugar
  • Almonds

Instructions

“Take rice and look you wash them clean,
And through a strainer you strain them;
Mix them with almond milk anon.
Take flesh of capons or hen [a] good quantity,
Tease it small, as I teach you;
Put the rice in the milk over the fire,
Let it boil of necessity
Thicken it with teased flesh indeed;
Season it with sugar, and garnish
With fried almonds the lord’s dish.”

Bake Mete (Reinterpretation)

Beke Mete - Photo

Ingredients

  • Pastry Dough
  • 3 large pears
  • 3 tbs of crumbled bone marrow 
  • 3 egg wolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 tbs saffron
  • A dash of salt

Instructions

Peel and halve the pears, removing the core. Slice one into strips and layer the strips in the bottom of the pie crust, sprinkling also 2 tbs of bone marrow over them. Arrange the remaining halves on top and place the remaining chunks of marrow at the center. Cook in the oven for 10 minutes.

In a bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly and stir in the rest of the ingredients. Pour the custard mix into the pie crust making sure the top of the pears are above the surface. Bake for 30 minutes. 

Books about Medieval Cooking

Medieval Occupations

Medieval Occupations and Jobs: Butcher. History of Butchers & Types of Meat

Medieval Butcher

Middle Ages butchers prepared meat, fish, and fowl for the people in a castle or a city. They sometimes had stalls in a marketplace.

Medieval Occupations and Jobs: Cook

Medieval Cook

Medieval Cooks usually prepared their food over an open fire. They sometimes shared communal ovens for everyone on the premises of a town.