Claret Wine

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Claret wine is referred to in a few different cookbooks. Claret could be a French wine, from a specific region, it could be an old wine flavoured with spices, or simply a clarified wine. That it is a dry wine seems to be the only consistent agreement.

It doesn’t take a long time to ferment juices into wine, 10-15 days, with an additional week to clear. You can even make this useful liquid with yeasts in the air, very convenient, although this means the flavour is random, since the type of yeast used dictates much of the flavour.

In medieval times, mixing 1 to 3 red wine to water, a  level of purification was achieved. By adding alcohol to water it changes the ph of the liquid, killing off microbes that can make someone sick.

A fresh wine of 15 days isn’t the smoothest of refreshment but can be useful for cooking. the addition of wine gives a sour tag, that can be enjoyable. I doubt it was used for food preserving.

For recipes calling for Claret I use the cheapest boxed, dry, red wine from Vineyards.

A Quarter Tart of Pippins.
(England, 1615)
Quarter them, and lay them  between two sheets of Paste: put in a piece of whole cinnamon, two or three bruised cloves, a little sliced ginger, orrengado, or only the yellow outside of the orange, a bit of sweet Butter about the bigness of an egg, good store of Sugar: sprinkle on a little rosewater. Then close your tart, and bake it: ice it before it goes to the board, serve it hot. This tart you may make of any puft-paste, or short paste that will not hold the raising. If you bake it in any of these kinds of pastes, then you must first boil your pippins in claret wine and sugar, or else your apples will be hard, when your crust will be burnt and dried away. Besides, the wine gives them a pleasant colour, and a good taste also. Though you boil your pippins tender, take heed you break not the quarters, but bake them whole. A NEVV BOOKE of Cookerie

Ingredients
* 8 pippins, or other soft baking apple, peeled and quartered
* 1 litre of dry red wine
* 1/4 cup raw cane sugar + 1/2 cup raw cane sugar
* pastry for top and bottom of pie
*1/4 tsp cloves, ground
* 1 tsp ginger, grated
* 1 tbsp orange zest
* 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature.
* 1/2 tsp rosewater
Icing
* 2 tbsp cane sugar

Directions
1. Place apple slices in a sauce pan with wine and 1/4 cup of sugar. Put pot on medium heat, and bring apples to boil. Remove from heat and drain.
2. Preheat oven to 350.
3. Gently place apples into pie shell. Cover apples with cinnamon, ginger, zest, butter, 1/2 cup sugar, and rose water, and then cover fruit with a pastry lid. Bake pie for 45 minutes, until crust is golden.
4. Cover lid of hot pie with 2 tbsp of cane sugar. Once sugar has melted a bit serve pie.

How To Make A Pudding in a Turnip Root.
(England, 1591)
Take your turnip root, and wash it fair in warm water, and scrape it faire and make it hollow as you do a carrot root, and make your stuffe of grated bread, and apples chop fine, then take currents, and hard eggs, and season it with sugar, cinnamon, and ginger, and yolks of hard eggs and so temper your stuff, and put it into the turnip, then take fair water, and set it on the fire, and let it boil or ever you put in your turnips, then put in a good piece of sweet butter, and claret wine, and a little vinegar, and rosemary, and whole mace, sugar, and currants, and dates quartered, and when they are boiled enough, then will they be tender, then serve it in. A Book of Cookrye

Ingredients
* 4 turnips, peeled
Stuffing
* 1 apple, peeled, shredded
* 1 tsp currants
* 4 egg yolks, hard boiled
* 1 tbsp raw cane sugar
* 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
* 1/2 tsp ginger, grated
* 1 cup bread crumbs, dry
Broth
* 1/4 cup unsalted butter
* 1 cup dry red wine
* 1 tbsp wine vinegar
* 1 branch rosemary
* 1 flake mace
* 1/4 cup raw cane sugar
* 1 tsp currants
* 4 dates, pits removed, quartered

Directions
1) Hollow out the turnips, via a narrow opening. Go slow so you don’t puncture the turnip.
2) Mix apples, 1 tsp currants, yolks, 1 tbsp cane sugar, cinnamon, and ginger. Slowly add bread crumbs by hand until a firm paste is formed.
3) Slowly pack the turnips with the apple stuffing mixture. Place turnips into a saucepan and cover with water and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer.
4) Add butter, wine, rosemary, mace, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 tsp currants, and dates to turnip pot. Simmer until turnips are tender when poked with a fork, approximately 30 minutes.

How To Bake Venison. 
(England, 1591)
When it is parboiled, season it with salt and pepper somewhat groce beaten, and a little ginger, and good store of sweet Butter, and when the venison is tender baked put to it half a dozen spoonfuls of claret wine and shake it well together. A Book of Cookrye

Ingredients
* 2 lbs wild deer roast
* 1 tbsp salt,
* 10 peppercorns, ground
* 1 tsp ginger, grated
* 1/2 cup unsalted butter
* 1/2 cup dry red wine

Directions
1) Cover roast with water in a saucepan and bring to boil. Remove from heat and drain.
2) Preheat oven to 350F.
3) Place roast into baking dish, cover with salt, spices and butter. Bake roast for 30 minutes or until meat reaches 145F for rare, or 160F medium.
4) Slice roast and toss with the red wine then serve.

Armoured Food

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I found three recipes with the names in common: armored hen, armored capon, and armored turnip. Only the armoured capon is dressed to look like it is wearing armor, which is really fun.

The turnips are layered with cheese and spices, somewhat like a “paleo diet” lasagna. Remember to use the smaller “Brassica rapa subsp. rapa” not the larger rutabaga “Brassica napobrassica”.

The armoured hen is a spit roast, where you make a crust on the outside of the roasted meat by sprinkling it with flour. The translation from Spanish by Robin Carroll-Mann can add to confusion if you are unfamiliar with this technique. “And when it is nearly half-roasted, baste it with bacon.” might imply that the spitted and half cooked hen is wrapped with strips of bacon before the flour crust is applied. This would result in an over cooked hen, or rubbery undercooked bacon. Putting a French translation “Fais rôtir une belle poule et, près de la mi-cuisson, frotte-la avec du lard.” into google translate gets “Do a nice roast chicken and nearly halfway through cooking , rub it with bacon.” This bacon fat addition, along with egg yolks, would allow the flour to stick to the less fatty hen. Translating with google from the original Catalan didn’t translate well.

Armored Capon
(Spain, 1520 – Robin Carroll-Mann, trans.)
Bard a capon, and roast it; and when it is half-roasted remove the barding fat. And take egg yolks beaten with parsley and sugar, and let them be very well-beaten, and put these eggs all over the capon; and take pine nuts and peeled almonds, and while you put on the egg yolks, put on the pine nuts and almonds bit by bit in such a way that they will adhere to the sauce. And then put the barding fat back on over the eggs and the capon. And it shall be upon the fire until it is completely roasted. Libre del Coch

Ingredients
* 1 capon (~6lbs)
* 6 strips of bacon
* 4 egg yolks
* 1 cup whole almonds, blanched
* 3/4 cup pine nuts

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Cover the capon with the strips of bacon. Roast capon for 45 minutes (while bacon is still rubbery, not crispy), then remove from heat.
3. Remove the bacon strips and set aside. Working from one end of the bird to the other, drop a little bit of egg yolk on the bird, smooth it out and use it to glue on almonds and pine nuts in neat rows, with the sides of the almonds touching and the pine nuts filling the voids near the points of the almonds. Place bacon stips back over the capon and return bird to oven. Roast for an additional hour or until it reaches 165°, and the limbs twist easily from the body.
4. Serve capon whole to guests, so they can enjoy the whole affect.

Armored Hen
(Spain, 1520 – Robin Carroll-Mann, trans.)
33. Armored Hen. Roast a good hen. And when it is nearly half-roasted, baste it with bacon. Then take well-beaten egg yolks, then with a spoon or with the tip of a large wooden spoon rub the hen with these yolks, little by little. And then sprinkle wheat flour well-sifted with ground salt over the eggs, turning the hen constantly and swiftly; and the crust is worth more than the hen. Libre del Coch

Ingredients
* 1 whole chicken, (~5lbs)
* 1/2 cup bacon fat
* 2 egg yolks, beaten with a fork
* 1 cup flour
* 2 tsp salt

Directions
1. Mix flour and salt together.
2. Build up a cooking fire, and tie your hen to a spit using food safe twine.
3. Slowly roast the hen, turning often, until it starts to sweat all over and juices start to run (approximately 30 minutes).
4. Baste the bird with the bacon fat all over. It will drip off quickly but also will add flavour. Then baste the bird with the egg yolks, evenly coating all over. Quickly, before the egg dries fully, start sprinkling flour over bird. The moisture from the bird, fat and eggs should make the flour adhere, although there will be loss. Keep sprinkling flour on bird, over and over, as your turn the spit, until all the moisture is absorbed and the flour has formed a crust of sorts. Continue to roast bird turning often, until flour is golden, and until it reaches 165°, and the limbs twist easily from the body.
5. Removed from spit to serve.

Armored Turnips
(Italian, 1421)
Cut up turnips that have been either boiled or cooked under the ashes. Likewise do the same with rich cheese, not too ripe. These should be smaller morsels than the turnips, though. In a pan greased with butter or liquamen, make a layer of cheese first, then a layer of turnips, and so on, all the while pouring in spice and some butter, from time to time. This dish is quickly cooked and should be eaten quickly, too. Platina, Book 8

Ingredients
* 6 turnips, boiled, sliced into 1 cm thick rounds
* 8 oz gouda, sliced into pieces half as thick as the turnips, or smaller
* 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
* 1/2 tsp black pepper, ground
* 1/2 tsp ginger, ground
* 1/4 tsp mace, ground
* 1/4 tsp cloves, ground
* 3 tbsp butter

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Mix spices together. Butter a baking dish. Lay down a loose layer of cheese, then a layer of turnips, sprinkle some of the spice mix on top of the turnips. Repeat until you run out of cheese and turnips.
  3. Sprinkle any leftover butter and spices on top of the layers.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes, or until cheese is melted and the top of the turnip pie is browning.