This is a great name for a great dish … basically this is a chicken dish gently spiced, sweetened, coloured and thickened, and it is certainly worth cooking and serving at any time of the year – it goes great on a thick slice of home-made manchet bread or maslin bread toast. This delicate, spicy-sweet chicken dish really does show case how good medieval cooking can be, and importantly, how tasty it can be.
The one ingredient you might need to track down is ground cubeb. If cooking a lot of authentic medieval dishes then it is worth the purchase, and is available at good stockists, (however a pinch of ground all-spice and freshly ground black pepper can replicate the taste).
Cooking Notes: One of the ingredients called for is a ‘capoun’, (a gelded rooster) along with the meat of chickens; (unless the expense of purchasing a Capon is not a problem) we can dispense with the capon and just concentrate on the chicken meat without detracting from the dish. – You can either ‘I-grounde’ your own chicken breasts, or do as we do, ask the butcher to coarsely mince them.
The Recipe Name: The word Cyprys in the name of the dish has confused some people; in all forms of its meanings it merely indicates that this dish should be sweet, not sour. The name does not indicate the origin of the dish, as is claimed elsewhere, rather it denotes the origin and trade of sugar to medieval England from Cyprus. The term ‘bastarde’ in the name of the recipe is a sweet Spanish wine, sweetened with honey and spices, and was popular in medieval England, the recipe calls for a good one. Finally ‘chargeaunt’ tells us the dish should be served thick.
Note About The Colour Of The Dish: Saunderys, or saunders, is a medieval colourant made from grinding red Sandalwood – you can still purchase this ingredient from good stockists. This tells us we should add red food colouring to the dish if we are not using saunders.
From The Harleian Manuscripts ‘Two Fifteenth Century Cookery Books’
.lxxxiij. Vyaund de cyprys bastarde.—Take gode wyne, & Sugre next Aftyrward, & caste to-gedere; þenne take whyte Gyngere, and Galyngale, & Canel fayre y-mynced; þen take Iuse of Percile & Flowre of Rys, & Brawn of Capoun & of Chykonnys I-grounde, & caste þer-to; An coloure it wyth Safroun & Saunderys, an a-ly it with ȝolkys of Eyroun, & make it chargeaunt; an whan þou dressest it yn, take Maces, Clowes, Quybibes, and straw a-boue, & serue forth.
Vyaund de Cyprys Bastarde Recipe
- 800g of minced chicken breast (ask your butcher to do it for you)
- 300ml chicken stock
- 300ml red wine (good sweet Spanish red wine)
- 1 tbsp of honey (to replicate the taste in the medieval bastarde wine)
- 40g sugar
- 1/2 tsp mace
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground galangal
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp of rice flour
- handful of fresh parsley (chopped fine) – reduce by half the amount if using dried
- pinch of saffron stems (steeped in 1 tsp of warm water)
- 1/2 tsp Saunders (or red food dye/colourant)
- 4 egg yolks (beaten)
- 1/2 tsp of ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp ground cubeb (if you cannot get ground cubeb, use a small pinch of all spice and freshly ground black pepper)
In a saucepan bring to the boil the chicken mince in chicken stock and then simmer for ten minutes. While the chicken is cooking, chop the parsley fine. Strain off any rising impurities from the chicken stock. To this now clear chicken broth add the sugar, sweet Spanish red wine, parsley, ginger, galangal, honey and cinnamon. Stir in all the ingredients while simmering and reduce the liquid by a quarter.
While the broth is reducing steep the saffron threads in a little warm water to bring out the colour. When the saffron has fully coloured the water and softened add it all to the saucepan, including the water. Then, in a small cup, add the rice flour and two tablespoons of broth liquid, and mix thoroughly. To this add the sanders, (red food colourant) then pour it into the simmering saucepan. While stirring constantly next pour in the beaten egg yolks. Bring back to a boil, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, reduce to a simmer and check the taste, if too sweet add a little salt, if not sweet enough add a little more honey. Make sure it is spiced gently, thickened and a little sweet rather than sour.
Traditionally serve in a bowl to be spooned out and eaten with other dishes and roast meats in the course.
However you can also grill a thick slice of home-made Manchet Bread, butter and pour over the chicken dish.
Either way, in a small ramekin put a small pinch of ground mace, cubeb, and cloves together, mix and ‘straw a-boue’ sprinkle some over the top of the chicken dish, to season it as you like, just before serving, with some extra chopped parsley as garnish.