A Giving of Thanks
Thanksgiving is one time of the year when feasting is common. After all, almost everyone has memories of getting together and stuffing themselves with turkey and ham as well as all manner of side dishes composed of corn, potatoes, yams, and cranberries. These meals usually end with grand desserts like cakes, pies, breads, and sweets, and you almost always have tasty beverages to wash it all down too! Thanksgiving is most definitely a time to feast and with this newsletter, we can help you add a medieval twist to your meal this holiday season!
In this article you will find an array of dishes, including two main courses, four sides, three desserts, and three beverages, which you can prepare and mix in to your holiday meal. This way you can keep a bit of history alive while also adding something new and fun to your holiday celebration. Without further adieu, we give to you our recipes for a Medieval Thanksgiving feast!
The Main Course
Roast Pork with Oranges & Onions
In place of the traditional “holiday ham”, we have something different to offer – a hearty pork roast accented by oceans and a tasty wine and orange sauce.
- 10 6 lb. center cut pork loins
- 1 lb. cooking onion, minced
- 1 lb. butter
- 2 Tbsp. each of salt & pepper
- 1 liter bottle of claret wine
- Juice of a dozen oranges
- 4 lemons, sliced
- 1 cup of very fine brown bread crumbs
Sauté the onions in butter with salt and pepper. Add the orange juice and wine once onions are done, and let the mixture stand. Roast the pork at 350° F for 1 ½ hours in a dutch oven or other covered container. Remove the roast from the oven and skim any fat from the pork and its juices (this process is known as degreasing). Add the liquid mixture to pork and put it back into the oven. Roast the pork for 3 more hours, or until a meat thermometer reads 170º F when inserted. Degrease the liquid again and add bread crumbs until mixture thickens. Cut the pork and serve it with sliced lemons. The sauce can be drizzled over the roast or served alongside it.
This duck dish is our fowl of choice for a medieval Thanksgiving meal. Not only is it tasty but it offers your guests a few options when it comes to what they want to eat. We also offer two additional recipes to go with it, as accent dishes.
- 1 duck, head and feet on
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper
- 1 egg yolk, beaten
- Brawn (cooked dark meat of chicken or pork, cut into serving portions)
- Frytours of Erbes (see later recipe)
- Poivre Jaunet (see later recipe)
Begin by lightly coating the duck with olive oil. Place the duck into a baking or roasting pan lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. There will be some grease, so make sure your pan has some depth. Sprinkle on salt and pepper. Wrap the wings, feet, and head of the duck in cheesecloth to prevent overcooking and burning. Place the duck, uncovered, into a 375° F oven and bake for approximately 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until fully cooked and golden brown.
Remove the duck from oven and unwrap the cheesecloth. Using a brush, quickly apply the beaten egg yolk to the entire duck. Return it to the oven for 20-30 seconds to set the egg yolk, creating a delightful golden brown finish.
Malardis is best served with freshly made fritters, ginger sauce, and brawn. The recipes for the fritters and the sauce follow below.
Frytour of Erbes
The frytour of erbes is a fritter of herbs, fried to a golden brown, which can add a tasty crunch to your Malardis dish.
- 8 tbs. of chopped or diced mixed green herbs: savory, parsley, marjoram, et cetera
- 2 cups flour
- 1 ½ to 2 cups lukewarm water
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp. yeast
- Honey to garnish
Dissolve the yeast into a bit of the water. Mix together the flour, herbs, and salt. Add the yeast-mixture and enough of the water to the flour-herb mix to create a smooth, thick batter. Cover the batter and let it rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size. To cook, drop by the spoon-full into hot oil and fry until light golden brown. Garnish the finished fritters with a drizzle of honey.
This sauce has a tart, sharp flavor that makes it truly unique. The spices in it can be adjusted to taste, while the sauce itself can be as thick or as thin as you prefer it. It makes a great complement to the Malardis main course too.
- 2 cups red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. ginger
- 1 Tbsp. pepper
- 1 Tbsp. ground saffron OR 1 Tbs. yellow food coloring
- ½ tsp. cloves
- 1-2 cups toasted bread crumbs (unseasoned)
Begin by bringing the vinegar to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly and beat in the spices and food coloring with a wire whisk. With the whisk, begin to beat in the bread crumbs until you achieve the desired thickness. Continue beating until sauce is smooth and the mixture has returned to a boil. Remove from the heat and serve hot alongside the Malardis, or any other roasted meat.
The Side Dishes
Chyches, the first of our side dishes, is a deceptively simple dish of roast chickpeas. Make no mistake though, this dish is sure to become a fast favorite thanks to its ease and its flavor.
3 cups chickpeas, dried or canned
2 whole garlic cloves, peeled
½ tsp. each of pepper and cloves
A pinch of saffron
Salt (added to taste)
If you are using canned chickpeas, make sure to rinse and drain them well. Place the chickpeas on a baking sheet and roast in a 400° F oven for approximately 45 minutes, turning the chickpeas midway through the roasting to cook them evenly. Be aware that dried chickpeas may roast faster, shortening the cooking time. Once cooked through, the chickpeas well have a texture and aroma similar to that of roasted nuts. Remove them from the oven.
Place the roasted chickpeas in a pot with the whole garlic cloves. Add enough water to cover about ¼ to ½ inch from the top of the chickpeas. Add the olive oil, using just enough to cover the chickpeas as well. Add the spices. Bring the chickpeas to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and continue cooking until the garlic softens. It should take about 10-15 minutes. They can be served in the broth or drained, according to your taste.
Dishes don’t get much simpler than our second side, Black Porray. Spinach and bacon come together in this dish, which works well as a basic side you can enjoy with almost any entrée.
1 ¼ lbs. fresh spinach
¼ lb. bacon
Wash and chop the spinach. Boil the chopped spinach for about 5 minutes, then drain well. Fry the bacon until it is crisp and set it aside. Sauté the spinach in the bacon grease. Chop up the bacon and stir it back into the spinach before serving.
Perys en Composte
You can be forgiven for mistaking our third side dish, Perys in Composte, for a dessert. It is a fine sweet note to accent your savory meal, and in a pinch, it makes a great starter course or quick dessert too.
2 cups red wine
2 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. sugar
½ cup sliced dates
4-6 pears, peeled, cored, and sliced thin
A pinch of salt
Red food coloring
Begin by boiling the pears until they are tender but not too soft. Drain them well. In a separate pan, mix and heat the wine, cinnamon, and sugar. Strain the wine-mixture to remove the cinnamon, then return it to the heat. When the mixture is hot again, add the dates, pears, salt, and a drop or two of the red food coloring. Bring it to a boil. Allow the mixture to cook for several minutes, then remove it from the heat. Place the pears and wine in a dish and allow to cool before serving.
Boletis et Fungis
Mushrooms anyone? Our forth side dish is a delightful recipe of roasted mushrooms and pine nuts. Fun fact: it was once believed that mushrooms would generate destructive humors in the body; this recipe uses ingredients that balance this, as pine nuts were said to generate the best of humors in the body. The end result also happens to be quite the tasty dish!
2 lbs. whole mushrooms, washed and dried
¼ cup olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced finely
Salt and pepper to taste
3/8 cup of fresh parsley, finely chopped with stems removed
3/8 cup pine nuts
Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan and set them aside. Then preheat your oven to 400° F. Wash and dry the mushrooms carefully, then carve, peel, or score them to your personal taste. Place the mushrooms on a baking pan, season them with salt and pepper, add the chopped garlic, and toss with oil. Bake the mushrooms until they sizzle slightly and are hot throughout. It should take roughly 25 minutes. When done, toss the mushrooms with chopped parsley and sprinkle with pine nuts.
The Best Part (a.k.a. Desserts)
Tart of Apples
This is a Thanksgiving feast, so our first dessert shall be a pie. This “apple” pie has a bit more to it than just apples, giving it a unique twist that the original classic lacks.
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
½ cup water
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. saffron
½ tsp. ginger
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
½ cup red wine
½ cup chopped dates
½ cup currants
Pastry for 1 pie shell with lid
Peel and chop the apples and pears to your preferred shape. Toss the fruit with flour, spices, dates, currants, wine, water, and lemon juice. Fill the pie crust with the fruit mixture and cover with the lid. Bake for 1 hour at 350° F.
As a special note, you can substitute the dates and currants for figs and raisins if those two ingredients prove to be difficult to acquire (or if you just prefer figs and raisins).
Our second dessert is a combination of little fried cakes served in a sauce of fruit and wine. This tasty treat is also a feast for the eyes, thanks to the contrast of yellow and red in the finished dessert.
4 ½ cups of flour
2 cups sugar
½ cup (or more) of cold water
Yellow food coloring
¼ tsp. salt
1 bottle (750mL) of sweet red wine
1 ½ cup honey
½ cup red wine vinegar
Red food coloring
1 tsp. each of pepper, cloves, and mace
1 tsp. each of chopped dates, currants, and pine nuts
1 cup figs, diced
This recipe is a two-part endeavor. First, you simmer the figs in a bit of the wine and then set them aside. Bring the rest of the wine and the honey to boil, then reduce the heat while skimming the mixture until clean. Add the vinegar, pepper, cloves, mace, fruits, figs, and nuts to the mixture. Also add a few drops of red food coloring. Return it to the heat and boil, then reduce the heat to a slow simmer. This will be the sauce.
Second, you make the cakes. In a bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt. Next, dye the water yellow with a few drops of yellow food coloring. Slowly work enough of the water into the flour to make a smooth dough that is similar to pie pastry. Roll the dough out on a floured board, then cut it into strips 1 inch wide by 4 inches long. In a skillet or pan, fry the strips of dough in oil until lightly browned and very crisp.
To serve, place the cakes on a serving platter then spoon on the fruits and the nuts, being generous with the syrup.
Our third and final dessert is best compared to a sweet cherry pudding. It can also be baked in a pan to create a firmer dessert that is equally tasty!
Butter, very soft or melted
Unseasoned bread crumbs
Wine, preferably a semi-sweet red or white
Small candy flowers
Purée the cherries using your method of choice (a mortal and pestle or food processor work well here). Place the purée into a large pot and add cherry juice (if needed) to make a very wet mixture. Blend in the butter and wine. Beat in bread crumbs to thicken the mixture to a pudding-like consistency. Add sugar to bring the mixture to your desired sweetness. Heat the thickened mixture to a soft boil, then reduce the heat and cook for several minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking. Sprinkle with sugar and decorate with flowers before serving. Optionally, you can decorate the dish with real flowers, so long as they are safe to consume.
Our first drink is Buttered Beere. This drink is said to have a flavor that is a cross between beer and pumpkin pie. Please note that this drink is not cooked long enough to be non-alcoholic, although you can substitute in non-alcoholic beer if need-be.
12 oz. beer
1 egg yolk
¼ cup sugar
1/16 tsp. nutmeg
1/16 tsp. cloves
1/16 tsp. ginger
2 Tbs. butter
Put the egg yolk into a saucepan and slowly whisk in the beer. Add the sugar and spices, and heat over medium-high heat until the mixture just comes to a boil. Remove from the heat, add butter, and whisk until mixed. Serve hot.
Our second drink is a spice mulled wine known as hypocras. This was a very popular medieval drink, and many stories feature it as a drink of choice, served warm in the winter.
1 bottle (750 mL) of sweet red or white wine
1 to 1 ½ cups sugar OR 1 to 2 cups honey
1 Tbsp. each of ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, white pepper, clove, nutmeg, and caraway seed
Bring the wine and sugar (or honey) to a boil; if using honey, skim off the scum as it rises to the top. Taste for sweetness, adding more of your preferred sweetener if necessary. Remove from the heat and stir in the spices. Allow the mixture to sit for 24 hours. After resting, the spices will form a thick residue as they settle at the bottom of the pot. Using a ladle, pass the wine into another container through a strainer lined with 2-3 layers of cheesecloth. Make sure to leave as much of the spice residue in the pot as possible. Bottle the mixture and store it until you are ready to drink it.
A special note about this drink: Hypocras should be made at least 1 month prior to serving. Just like with fine wines, this is a beverage that gets better with age.
Our third and final drink is Claret. Not to be confused with the wine of the same name, this is a grape-based drink similar to mulled wine. In fact, it can be mulled wine. This version uses grape juice though, to make a non-alcoholic drink that anyone can enjoy.
2 ½ quarts of grape juice
½ cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. ginger
1 Tbsp. grains of paradise
1 Tbsp. long pepper
1 Tbsp. galingale
1 Tbsp. coriander
Take ½ pint of the grape juice and place it into a pot with the brown sugar; apply heat until the sugar is fully dissolved. Put 1 oz. of the spice mixture into a strainer and steep into the warmed juice. Add the warmed juice back into the cool juice. Add the rest of the spiced mixture to flavor the drink as necessary.
Let the Feasting Commence
Hopefully this article will inspire you to add something new to your table this Thanksgiving. If you do cook something up from our article, let us know! Tell us how they tasted, and if you managed to capture a picture before your guests devoured the dish, you can even post it to show off your culinary expertise.