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minced-meat-art - 2/13/98


"Paste en Pot de Mouton" by Anne-Marie Rousseau. A medieval dish of minced onions and meat.


NOTE: See also the files: lamb-mutton-msg, broths-msg, stews-bruets-msg,  onions-msg, spice-mixes-msg, chopped-meat-msg, Gos-Farced-art, meatloaf-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



Date: Wed, 21 Jan 1998 23:29:09 -0800

From: "Anne-Marie Rousseau" <acrouss at gte.net>

Subject: Re: SC - french cooking or is Ham mousse just a fancy sausage?


Hi all from Anne-Marie

Due to popular request, here's the recipe for the mince of meat and onions

I mentioned earlier. I've given you the whole article I wrote for _Serve it

Forth_ a while ago. Please, if you use this recipe, all I ask is that you

let me know.


- --AM




Prenez de la cuisse, et gresse our mouelle de beuf ou de veel hach* menu

et oignons menus hachi*s, et faictes boulir et cuire en un pot bien

couvert a bien petit de boulon de char ou autre eaue, puis mettez boulir

dedans espices, et un petit de vinaigre pour aiguiser, et dr*ciez en un

plat. (from le Menagier de Paris, c. 1395)


According to Randall Cotgrave's A Dictionarie of the French and English

Tongues, printed in 1611, past* en pot  is "minced meat Boiled in a pot

with a little broath, and hard yolkes of eggs until it be half consumed".

With Cotgrave's help, the original French text can be translated to read:


Past* en pot de Mouton. Take the thigh, and fat/grease [Cotgrave gives both

as definitions] or beef marrow or of veal, finely minced [literally "hashed

small"] and onions finely minced, and make to boil and seethe in a pot well

covered with a good bit of  meat broth or other water then put to boil

within spices, and little vinegar for sharpening ["to put an edge on it']

and serve in a platter.


Interestingly, the hard boiled egg yolks that Cotgrave calls for in the

dish are missing in the Menagier version, but that may have something to do

with the intervening 300 years. There are similar recipes for meat and

onion stews flavored with spices and sharpened with vinegar scattered

throughout the contemporary sources. Taillevent's Civ*e de Veau  (Prescott,

1989), Forme of Curye's  "Mounchelet" (which, by the way, is indeed

thickened with egg yolks) (Hieatt et al, 1996), and the very nearly

identical 15th century "Stwed Mutton" from the Harlein MS 4061 (Renfrow,

1990). "Stwed Mutton" gives the variation of ale, mustard and verjuice as

spicing, which promises to be tasty as well, like a piquant carbonnade.


My reconstruction resulted in a stew with a tender meat morsel that

practically melts in the mouth, with a slight sharp vinegar bite, and the

familiar medieval spicing. The onions disappeared, and the resulting gravy

was thick and flavorful. The modern version of the recipe is as follows:


2 T olive oil

1/2 cup minced onion

1 lb minced "thigh o' lamb", fat and all (see note below)

1 cup beef broth (I used the bottled concentrated stuff, diluted 2 tsp/1c

hot water)

4-5 threads saffron

1 tsp poudre forte (see note below)

1/4 cup white wine vinegar


In a pot with a tight lid, heat the oil on medium high heat. Mince the

onion and add to the hot oil. Mince the meat, and add to the onions and

oil. Add the broth and clap the lid on. Let simmer for 25 minutes. Moosh

the saffron threads in a little of the hot broth, and add to the pot. Add

the poudre forte and vinegar, and simmer a few more minutes more to

evaporate some of the liquid "until it be half consumed" as in the words of

Randle Cotgrave. Serve on a platter.


I chose olive oils as the fat and white wine vinegar as the vinegar because

Chiquart mentions them by name in his shopping lists (Scully, 1986). The

meat I chose to use here was actually several lamb tip steaks. The original

recipe calls for thigh of mutton. Tip steaks come from the hip area of the

sheep, the closest I could get to the thigh without having to buy a whole

leg of lamb. Also, the grocery store version of lamb is actually fairly

mutton-like, being close to a year old when butchered.


As no specific spicing was specified in the original recipe, I used a

combination that seemed likely, creating a poudre forte based on the spices

called for in other contemporary French recipes sources, as well as

saffron, which is called for in many of the other similar dishes and



The version of poudre forte used here is:

1 1/2 T ground ginger

1/2 tsp. grains of paradise, ground with a mortar and pestle

1 T ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper.

Combine ingredients and store in an airtight container.


Please be aware that every source has it's own combination of spices and

proportions for their poudre fortes and poudre douces. Some include cubebs,

some include nutmeg and/or galingale, some include herbs. The version above

is a seemly compromise, and uses the spices most specific to the source the

original recipe is from, le Menagier a Paris.


In short, Past* en pot de Mouton is very characteristic of medieval French

and English food: a piquant mince of meat and onions, stewed in it's own

juices and seasoned according to the tastes of the time.


Sources Cited:

Scully, Terence, ed. and transl. Chiquart's 'On Cookery': A Fifteenth

Century Savoyard Culinary Treatise. American University Series, Series IX,

vol 22, 1986. Peter Lang Publishing


Cotgrave, Randle. A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues.

Reproduced from the first edition, London, 1611 (University of South

Carolina Press, Columbia. 2nd printing, 1968).


Prescott, James. Le Viandier de Taillevent. (Alfarhaugr Publishing Society.2nd     Edition, 1989).


Renfrow, Cindy. Take a Thousand Eggs or More. (1990, Privately Published).


Spices mentioned can all be obtained in person or by mail order from Tony

Hill at WorldSpice, 1509 Western Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101. Phone:

206.682.7274. Email: hill at worldspice.com.



If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in

the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also

appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being

reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org