Why Parboiling? or To Bake Wilde Ducks

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Parboiling is a technique where you place something in a pot of water, bring the water to a boil and then remove the item. Why would so many medieval recipes call for parboiling meat, especially poultry?

For things like hearts or livers, or wild game, it removed the “gamey” or “green” taste. For things like duck or chicken this isn’t necessary, they don’t taste “gamey” in a bad way.

Poultry is most often described as choleric, a hot dry humour. One of the symptoms of and abundance of choler is vomiting.

Vomiting is also one of the symptoms of food poisoning. If one first parboiled the poultry, then roasted it, you are more likely to get the bird up to temperature required for eating, than by roasting alone. Sometimes fire runs hot and will burn the outside before the bird is cooked, parboiling would help insure the duck is cooked through.

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To Bake Wilde ducks. When they be fair dressed and perboiled, season them with Pepper and Salt, a few whole cloves amongst them, and Onions small minced, and sweet butter, vergious and a little sugar. A Book of Cookrye (1591)

Ingredients
* 1 duck
* Pepper and salt to taste
* 1/2 tsp cloves, ground
* 2 onions minced
* 2 tbsp butter
*2 tbsp verjuice
* 1 tbsp raw cane sugar

Directions

  1. Place whole duck into a large pot and cover with water. Heat pot on high until pot comes to boil.
  2. Preheat oven to 375F.
  3. Sprinkle duck with lots of salt, pepper and cloves.
  4. Mix onions, butter and sugar and stuff into cavity (or combine into a paste and spread over duck).
  5. Bake duck for 1 hour 30 minutes (or until internal temperature is 185F, and wings should pull away when twisted).
  6. Serve hot with onion stuffing.

 

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Cooking with beer and wine

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Hypothetically if you are cooking something like lamb sausages in beer on a BBQ and the grease catches fire do not add more beer. It kind of explodes. Maybe. Hypothetically.

I’ve been experimenting with cooking with (gluten-free) beer and wine after discovering two duck-sauce recipes that were pretty similar at first blush except that one uses wine and the other beer.

Beer adds a smokier and bitter flavour. The flavour would radically change from redaction to redaction depending upon what kind of beer you used. You’d want something on the lighter side, and less hops.

Wine is sweeter, even a dry wine, and adds an acidic and tart flavour. I find that cheaper cooking wines, when used in cooking, don’t taste that differently, some difference but not wildly different in the way beer is.

Both of the following recipes needed the roasted duck to complete the flavours.

Beer Sauce for Roasted Mallards
Take onions and hew them well, put some in the mallard, so have you bliss, and hack more onions, as I teach you; with the grease of the mallard you fry them, then take ale, mustard and honey then, boil all together before you do more; for mallard roasted this sauce is prepared, and served in hall by good right. Liber cure Cocorum

The ratios for the sauce are more important than amounts. If you don’t have 1 cup of drippings treat the recipe as 4 part drippings, 4 parts ale, 1 part mustard, and 1 part honey.

Ingredients
* 1 onion, minced
* 1 cup of fat and drippings from your roasted duck
* 1 cup ale
* 1/4 cup of yellow mustard
*1/4 cup of honey

Directions
1)  Saute onions in the duck fat and drippings on medium heat until the onions are transparent.

2) Mix ale, mustard and honey together, then slowly pour into onion mixture. Bring the mixture to a low boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and serve with your roasted duck.

Wine Sauce for Duck
Take onions, and hewe them small, and fry hem in fresh greece, and cast them into a pot, And fresh broth of beef, wine, & powder of pepper, canel, and dropping of the mallard. And let them boil together a while; And take hit for the fire, and cast thereto mustard a little, and powder of ginger, and let it boil no more, and salt it, And serve it forth with the Mallard. Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books.  godecookery.com

Ingredients
* 1 onion, minced
* fat for frying
* 1/2 cup of beef broth
* 1/2 cup dry wine
* 1/2 tsp pepper, ground
* 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
* 1 cup fat and drippings from your roasted duck
* 1/4 cup of yellow mustard
* 1 tsp ginger, ground
* salt to taste

Directions
1)  Saute onions in fat  on medium heat in a sauce pan until the onions are transparent.

2) Add broth, wine, pepper, cinnamon, and drippings into sauce pan with onions, simmer together on medium  for 10 minutes.

3) Take sauce pan off heat add mustard, ginger, and salt and stir well. Serve with roasted duck.