Monday, January 25, 2010

Chicken with honey, garlic, and almonds - from an ancient recipe

I thought this recipe was originally from To The King's Taste, but when I checked that source I couldn't find it again. So it might have been from one of my other medieval cookbooks. It's definitely somewhere between 1000 and 600 years old originally. In any case, the version I make is pretty close to the original, insanely tastey, and easy to make.

Since I make it from memory, there are no set measurements but I think you'll find it easy enough to follow along.

Chicken - cut up in serving size pieces or breasts - make sure skin is left on and intact.
Plain flour - for dredging the chicken prior to browning
Butter
Honey - (the kind called runny or clear honey in the UK, regular honey in the US)
Fresh garlic cloves
Sliced Almonds
Green grapes -tart ones, not quite ripe ones are best
Salt, pepper, ground cinnamon
White wine or chicken stock or water
Cornstarch (Corn flour in the UK)
A whisk
A saute pan (frying pan) with fitting cover

1. Dump a few tablespoons of flour into a plastic bag and season with some salt, pepper, and a light sprinkle of cinnamon (very easy on the cinnamon)  Dredge the chicken pieces thoroughly in flour - just drop them in the bag a piece or two at a time, grasp the bag at the top to close, and shake. (Easy trick, eh?)

2. Melt butter in a saute pan (frying pan for us infidels). When the butter starts to sizzle a little, add the chicken pieces in a single layer and brown lightly all over, turning frequently as needed. The skin should be golden brown and slightly crisped.

3. Meanwhile, slice the garlic cloves, take half the grapes and snip each in half.
4. Put the remainder of the grapes in a bowl and crush them. Dump into a sieve and press out all the fresh juice. (This is a simple form of verjuice)

5. When the chicken is lightly browned, lower the heat and toss in the sliced garlic, the cut up grapes, lots of sliced almongs, drizzle in the honey all over the chicken. Add the verjuice (the crushed grape juice, remember?)
6. Bring pan to a simmer and check the level of liquid - you only want the chicken pieces to be covered about 1/2 of the way. Add white wine/stock/water if needed.

7. Cover pan and turn heat low so it very gently simmers. Let cook about 30 minutes, occasionally turning the chicken pieces in the cooking liquid.

8. After 30 minutes, remove the chicken pieces to a plate. Turn up the heat under the pan and allow the cooking liquid  (your proto-sauce) to come to a gentle boil. Taste to see if the flavour needs adjusting and add salt/pepper/honey as needed. The taste should be mellow and slightly garlicy and sweet not sugary!
9. Dissolve cornstarch (probably between 2 teaspoons and a tablespoon depending on how much liquid is in the pan) in a bit of cold water (yes even in the UK, it has to be cold water). Pour this slurry into the boiling cooking liquid and then whisk it smooth and glossy. Check the seasoning and adjust if needed.
10 Put the chicken pieces and any juices on the plate back into the pan and mix to coat.

Serve with rice or buttered wide egg noodles - or spaetzle type noodles for a more medieval dish.

8 comments:

黑色 said...
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Asti said...

I made this on Friday and Richard loved it. I also sauted an onion and added some baby carrots.

Broklynite said...

Ah, I've been wanting to get this recipe for ages. I actually discovered about a year ago that the recipe still exists and is made by a french recipe but I cannot remember the name any longer. Anyway, thanks a bunch!

T Byro said...

I seem to remember your having made this stuff when we were living on Snake Den Road.Didn't you find the recipe in one of your SCA cookbooks?

Barb said...

The recipe was in one of my collection of historical cookbooks. However, I have no idea which specific cookbook it was - I thought it was Apicius but couldn't find it in there when I checked the manuscript. The next most likely is one of those little cookbooks published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art - Cooking of Richard II or something like that.

The first time I cooked this recipe was at Snake Den Road for a medieval dinner party we held for friends from the SCA including the Philips family. I have made it many times since - it's just too good to be forgotten.

Asti said...

The MMA cookbooks that you are thinking of would probably be To The King's Taste or To The Queen's Taste. My bet is that it was in the former as it's Medieval rather than Elisabethan. I have copies and will try to remember to check.

Broklynite said...

As my memory serves it was in neither. It was in a manuscript medieval recipe book that you guys had that looked like it was originally filled with woodcuts and such. Ring any bells?

Asti said...

The Medieval Fest? Pleyn Delit?