Sunday, October 17, 2010

Barley Stew again.

I'm trying the putative Anglo-Saxon recipe for hare or rabbit stew again, using the last of the duck breasts I bought this winter, with a few new variations, some of which are defensibly period, others which may not be:
  • I've added some shredded pork roast from an earlier recipe (I'd cooked it with cranberries and honey);
  • I added beef broth instead of water;
  • I fried the leeks and garlic in the pan when I was browning the duck.  I don't know if that will improve the taste of the final stew, but the house sure smells wonderful now!
  • I used a sea salt and rosemary blend to season it, along with some black pepper.  I was able to get fresh sage, so I used it this time, and omitted the bay leaves.
  • I also omitted the vinegar, since it made the last batch too sour.
I suspect that the pork is a suitably period addition (it doesn't taste very strongly of cranberry, and the rest of the ingredients for the roast were period enough) and the rosemary could be defended, but I have my doubts about the pepper, and suspect that only a wealthy household would be able to combine beef broth, pork and duck in the same dish.  Still, it's fun to experiment.

EDIT:  My husband was delighted when he tasted the stew!  I thought it was good too, though not *quite* as good as it smelled.  :-)

SECOND EDIT: The stew got richer and more flavorful the longer it sat in my refrigerator! Sadly, it's mostly gone now.


  1. There ae some records of peppercorns in Anglo-Saxon England. Mainly going to the Church as expensive gifts. Overall, a very expensive feast.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, John. and for your comment.

    I'd figured that peppercorns would, if they were found in Anglo-Saxon England at all, be much more expensive than they were later in the Middle Ages. (Though for what it's worth I used little--maybe 8-10 twists of my grinder, probably no more than a peppercorn or two crushed).

    Even so, my little ducky glop pot would have been an expensive feast, in period!

  3. Very true. When I make my take on this dish I normally add turnips, carrots, and/or whatever other root veggies to the pot. Maybe some herbs if I picked them up, and sea salt. It seems to go over well, there are people in my re-enactment group who still comment on "that amazing lamb stew."

    Funny enough, in the Joy of Cooking, there is a recipe for Scotch Broth that is pretty much on the same wave length as the barley soups we make.

    Anyway, very good site! One of the three or four I follow.

  4. Lamb and barley--I should try that. My local butcher carries lamb regularly, and I've used it for modern "Irish" stew, but it's expensive (2 pounds of stew meat runs about $25).

    I'm glad you enjoy the site! Though my first love is historic costume, I've also been fascinated by the history of food, though I know much less about it. (On the other hand, it's easier to come up with good short blog entry topics about food, I find.)