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Rissoles On A Meat Day
by
Arwen Southernwood


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Original Recipe

Rissoles on a Meat Day

Le Menagier de Paris (Janet Hinson, trans.)
Rissoles On A Meat Day are seasonable from St. Remy's Day (October 1).  Take a pork thigh and remove all the fat so that none is left, then put the lean meat in a pot with plenty of salt; and when it is almost cooked, take it out and have hard-cooked eggs, and chop the whites and yolks, and elsewhere chop up your meat very small, then mix eggs and meat together, and sprinkle powdered spices on it, then put in pastry and fry in its own grease.  And note that this is a proper stuffing for pig; and any time the cooks shop at the butcher's for pig-stuffing : but always, when stuffing pigs, it is good to add old good cheese. 


Redaction

Ingredients:

3/4 pounds lean pork loin
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 hard-boiled eggs
1-2 teaspoons poudre forte
Oil for deep frying
3 recipes of pastry dough

Preparation Steps:

  1. Place the pork loin in a pot and sprinkle with salt.  Add 1/4 cup water (to keep pork from sticking to the bottom).  Cover and cook over medium heat for an hour and a half, or just until pork is grey all the way through, replenishing the liquid if it boils away. 
  2. Set the pork aside to cool, reserving any remaining liquid, and peel eggs.  Mash eggs thoroughly or grind in a food processor until they resemble scrambled eggs. 
  3. When pork has cooled enough to handle, chop into small bits using a meat cleaver or food processor.  Mix eggs and pork together with your hands, sprinkling on spices and working into filling as you go.  If the mixture seems dry, add some of the remaining liquid from cooking.  The filling should hold its shape when kneaded or molded, but should not be wet.
  4. Roll out the pastry dough and cut small (1 1/2" circles) from it.  Take a small amount of filling, place it in the center of the dough circle, and pinch the dough closed. 
  5. Deep-fry in fat or oil until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels to remove excess oil.

Number of Servings

24

Serving Size

Two rissoles.

Redaction Notes

This is a redaction of a recipe from Le Menagier de Paris.  As the name implies, the dish contains meat and other animal products, and therefore could not be eaten during Lent or on any of the many other fast days prescribed by the Church.  I chose it because I had been wanting to try one of the many varieties of dumplings for which I had seen recipes, and this one in particular sounded tasty.

I chose to use poudre forte when the recipe called for "spices," since it is a blend containing many of the commonly-used spices of that era. 

The instructions in Le Menagier say to cook the pork until it is "not quite done."  In the interests of hygiene and food safety, I decided to cook the pork until it was completely done.

The original recipe calls for "plenty of salt."  I deemed a half teaspoon to be more than plenty, as I wished the meat to be edible, but it is probably conservative by medieval standards.

I have found sources that indicate that medieval cooks did not always make their own pastry dough.  Instead, they would employ the services of a patissier, a professional pastry chef.   They would take fillings to the pastry chef, who would encase them in pastry.  Sometimes, a manor employed its own pastry chef. Therefore, in light of limited time and my lack of skill in creating my own pastry doughs, I feel justified in using prepared pie dough.

Again due to limited time, and also because I did not wish to aggravate old repetitive stress injuries in my wrists, I used a food processor to grind the eggs and meat, rather than chopping them by hand or pounding them in a mortar.  By doing this, I achieved a much finer grain than I had expected.  Doubtless the scullery maid or kitchen apprentice who would have been assigned such a task could have produced the same result, but with much more sweat.

Finally, I chose to fry the rissoles in cooking oil instead of fat, simply because I did not have an ample supply of pork fat on hand.  I used a generic vegetable oil instead.

The resulting pastries were flaky and very tasty.  Perhaps a dipping sauce or some other condiment could be used to add variety. 

As this was originally presented as an entry in an Arts and Sciences competition, the rissoles were presented in a modern chafing dish in order to hold them at a safe temperature until judging was complete.  I was pleased that they maintained their quality well, and did not become either soggy or dry.

References

  • Hinson, Janet (trans.):  Le Menagier de Paris.  Online edition at http://www.best.com/~ddfr/Medieval/Cookbooks/Menagier/Menagier_Contents.html.
  • Redon, Odile; Sabban, Francoise, and Serventi, Silvano.  Medieval Kitchen:  Recipes from France and Italy.  Edward Schneider, trans.  The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1998.

Date Of Redaction

Prepared for Caerthen Culinary and Performing Arts Collegium & Competition, August 29, A.S. XXXIII (1998 c.e.)


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