The Ladies' Tea Guild

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Historic cooking: Fylettys en Galentyne, c. 1430.

Fylettes en Galentyne. Photo:
Elizabeth Urbach.
So, I signed up for the History of Royal Food and Feasting course on FutureLearn, again, in the hopes that I will be able to complete the recipe challenges/assignments this time around!  After all, it is the 3rd time I've taken it, and I get a few more done each time ... 

Week 1 focuses on the Tudors, and the court and kitchen of Henry VIII.  I made the Tarte owt of Lente during one of the previous runs of this course, and although I bought some cheese to try it again this year, it finally cooled off this week (first heat wave of the year! ugh.) that I decided to try another one of the suggested recipes, called Fylettys en Galentyne, from ca. 1430.  It is a kind of braised pork dish, and is really tasty, and something that makes your house smell really good!  My housemates kept coming into the kitchen to see what was cooking.

Here is the original recipe:

Take faire porke of the fore quarter, and take of the skyn, and put the pork on a faire spitte, and roste it half ynogh; and take hit of, and smyte hit in peces, and cast hit in a faire potte; and then take oynons, and shred and pul hem, not to small, and fry hem in a pan with faire grece, And then caste hem to the porke into the potte; And then take good broth of beef or Motton, and cast thereto, and set
hit on the fire, and caste to pouder of Peper, Canel, Cloues and Maces, and lete boile wel togidur; and then take faire brede and vinegre, and stepe the brede with a litull of the same broth, and streyne hit
thorgh a streynour, and blode with all; or elles take Saundres and colour hit therewith, and late hem boile togidur, and cast thereto Saffron and salt, and serue hit forth.
-Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books, (Harleian MS. 27, c.1430 – Early English Text Society print, 1888)

ingredients for Fylettys en Galentyne.
Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.
Here is what I did:

3 thinly-sliced pork chops
2 white or yellow onions, chopped,
1 can low-sodium beef broth
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup fresh bread crumbs (I tore up a slice of sandwich bread)
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. (about) each salt, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves and mace (all ground)
1 pinch saffron

Heat half of the butter in a large, deep skillet or wide saucepan, and brown the meat in it on medium  heat.  Remove the meat to a separate plate, and put the rest of the butter, and the onions, into the same skillet.  Cook, stirring occasionally, at least 30 minutes or until onions are all browned and softened.  Return the meat to the pan on top of the onions, add the spices to the pan, and pour the broth or stock over all; it should almost cover the meat.  Bring the whole thing to a boil, and then lower the heat and simmer at least an hour, or until the liquid in the pan reduces by half (the liquid hadn't reduced by half after an hour of simmering, in my experience, however!).  Do not cover the pan.

Fylettys en Galentyne, simmering.
Photo: Elizabeth Urbach. 
Just before serving, remove the meat to a serving plate, and add the vinegar and breadcrumbs to the sauce and onions in the pan, before spooning it over the meat.  Serves 3 (although I think the amount of onions and sauce would have been fine for at least 1 more pork chop).

This was a delicious dish!  I think one hour of simmering wasn't quite enough, because although the pork was cooked through completely, and not dry, it wasn't as tender as I was hoping it would be.  I think this recipe would work well in a crockpot that you can let simmer for 3 hours.

Fylettys en Galentyne.  Delicious!
Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.
The meaty flavor of the pork was very mild, but it went well with the onions and spices.  The sweetness of the onions, and the cinnamon and cloves, came through most clearly (although the original recipe doesn't give any measurements for the spices, so I'm sure the flavor would have been more balanced if I had used differing amounts of the spices).  I could hardly taste the mace and saffron, so I will probably use more the next time I make this.  The addition of the vinegar at the end was surprising, but it was really nice to have a tiny sour note to the flavor; I think I might even add a dash more next time.  The breadcrumbs made the onions and spices more of a sauce than a broth, which was easier to eat on the plate, but I'm sure you could leave the crumbs out, and serve the sauce over buttered noodles or rice, and it would be perfectly good, too!  I look forward to trying this recipe again, and I think it would be good to make at a historical re-enactment, or to take camping, as long as you have a large pot to cook it in, since it's basically just simmering everything together for a long time, and not too complicated of a recipe.

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Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)