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potted-foods-msg – 5/21/04


Potted foods in period and just out of period. Potted foods are cooked foods placed in containers sealed with fat.


NOTE: See also the files: food-storage-msg, stockfish-msg, drying-foods-msg, meat-smoked-msg, pickled-foods-msg, canning-msg, campfood-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: Tue, 20 Jul 1999 00:51:33 -0400

From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Other Foods


Chris wrote:

> I was wondering if someone has a period resiepe for Rillette.  I am positive

> it is

> period.  It is very similiar in cooking style to Confit, which is one of the

> oldest known ways of preserving food.


> Aaron Hawksmoor


Hmmm. Certainly the method for preserving rillettes is almost identical

for that used to preserve confit de porc, d'oie, or du canard. And yes,

it is old. Just how old appears to be unknown.


On the face of it, though, it seems as if you're looking for proof of

something you already seem to know, but on the strength of what, I don't

know. Certainly if there were period evidence of such a preservative

method being used, that would indicate the method was period.

Unfortunately, I'm not aware of any such evidence, nor any evidence

pre-dating period, either. The period recipes in English and French for

confits describe something very different, generally either candied

seeds or fruits preserved in spiced syrup. The oldest reference to

confit d'oie, etc., _that I'm aware of_, is probably 18th century.


I remember being told by someone that Taillevent's Viandier contains a

reference to rillettes, but upon checking the comprehensive Scully

translation I can't find anything even close, unless you count

"ribelettes", meaning rashers or lardons of bacon.


For those who may not be up on all this stuff, rillettes, like the

Savoyard dishes of confit of pork, duck, or goose, are made from lightly

cured meat [usually pork, in cubes, but sometimes goose, rabbit, etc.]

cooked in its own fat until much of their water content has evaporated.

Confits are then sealed in pots of the fat covering and congealing over

the meat to seal out the air, while rillettes are shredded,

traditionally with two forks, pounded in a mortar and mixed with most of

the fat, with only a thin layer covering it in the pot. It is eaten

cold, as a kind of spread or pate.


The frequently-less-than-informative Larousse Gastronomique makes no

mention of the age of rillettes nor of rillons, their "big (i.e.

coarser-ground) brother".





Date: Thu, 30 Dec 1999 16:43:21 EST

From: LrdRas  at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - potted meat


alm4  at cornell.edu writes:

<< I have never heard that term before, what is potted meat?


    Angeline >>


Here are 3 recipes I have. The first is a Pennsylvania Dutch one which would

be suitable for your purposes. The second is a lengthier way of preserving

meat and the source of the colloquial phrase 'scraping the bottom of the

barrel'. Enjoy! :-) The 3rd one is a lengthy procedure also but  is done in

the tradition of the Languedoc region.


Potted Meat

(Made from cooked soup bone and veal shin)


2 1/2 cups stock        1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 cups boiled meat (heaping)    Salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 tablespoons sage      2 hard-boiled eggs

1 grated nutmeg         1 teaspoon parsley (chopped)

1/3 teaspoon cinnamon


Put the juice and meat and seasoning in a pan and cook for 10 minutes. The

chop up the hard-boiled eggs and parsley together. Take a wet mold, put in

meat, then layer of the egg and parsley and then meat again until mold is

full. Put away to cool.


This is how we used to do it...


Meat potting is preserving meat in it's own grease in a large crock pot.

This is how we did it. Early in the morning Dad killed a pig and started

cutting it up. He gave the pieces to Mom who had the wood stove in the

kitchen hot and ready to cook. She started frying the pork and prepared the

10 gallon crock pot. This pot was about 18 inches in diameter and 24 inches

deep. Mother washed it, and got it just as clean as she could get it. As the

pork fried, it gave off lots of grease. She took some of this very hot grease

and poured it into the bottom of the crock, sealing and sterilizing the

bottom. Then she put the meat she had just finished cooking down onto this



As she continued to cook throughout the day she added the well fried meat and

covered it with the hot fat that came from the cooking process. By the

evening the pig was all fried up and in the pot, covered over with a nice

layer of lard that had hardened. As the days passed by, we dug down into the

lard to where the meat was, pulled out what we needed, and put it in the

frying pan. We cooked it good a second time to kill any bacteria that could

have possibly gotten into it. Doing this not only sterilized the meat for

eating, but melted off all the excess fat. The meat was taken out of the pan

and the fat was poured back into the pot to seal up the hole we had just made

getting the meat out. -Gordon Schaufertre. copyright Al Durtschi



Lou Pastis En Pott

(Potted Meat)


Ingredients (8 servings)

1/2 LB Lard

2 LB Lean beef

2 LB Lean pork

3 Bay leaves

A few sprigs of thyme and rosemary

1 ts Juniper berries

Salt and pepper

1/2 Bottle red wine (the near-black wine of Cabors or a Medoc)



This is an unusual potted meat prepared only in the Languedoc.

Serves 8 - 10

Time: Start at least 2 weeks ahead; 30 minutes plus 2 hours cooking, repeated

3 times

First cooking: deep red Medoc)

Second and third cooking: the same ingredients again each time


You will need a large straight-sided earthenware pot. Scald the earthenware

pot and grease it thoroughly with a little of the lard (you can line the

bottom with a few fig or walnut leaves if you have them). Cut the beef and

pork into slices, trimming the gristle and sinews as you do so. Put the bay

leaves on the bottom of the pot. Lay in the meat slices, seasoning with the

herbs, salt, and freshly ground pepper as you do so. Pour in the wine -- it

should just cover the meat.

Simmer the pot uncovered over a very low heat or in a preheated 250 deg F

oven, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the volume is reduced by half. Allow to

cool. Seal with a layer of lard, melted and poured over the cool meat. Cover

with wax paper tied down with string. Leave the pot on a refrigerator shelf

for a week. Then remove the lard seal and add in another 2 lbs pork and 2 lbs

beef, the whole covered with wine, seasoned and cooked as before. Repeat the

operation at the end of another week. You will now have a delicious dark

jelly-meat which you can either eat hot or cold. If you continue to replace

the volume you have removed, the pot can go on forever. -From: THE OLD WORLD


ISBN 0-553-05219-5





Date: Thu, 30 Dec 1999 21:54:13 -0600

From: Stefan li Rous <stefan  at texas.net>

Subject: Re: SC - potted meat


> I have never heard that term before, what is potted meat?

>         Angeline


> potted meat, in my childhood was any of a variety of processed canned meat

> products.  In this  category could be such favorites as Underwood's Deviled

> Ham and other varieties, SPAM, canned  corned beef. Basically cooked and

> sealed in a tin.  You could serve it at the Y3K dinner ;o)


> niccolo difrancesco


The period or at least near-period description of potted meat is a little bit

different than this, although there are some simularities.


The best referance I can recommend is: "Waste Not, Want Not" in the Food

and Society series, edited by C. Anne Wilson. 1991, Edinburgh University Press.

ISBN 0 7486 0119 8.


Chapter 3  is: Pots for potting: English  Pottery and its Role in Food

Preservation in the Post-medieval Period by Peter Brears.


Basically he describes the progression from pasties and pies to preserving

food especially meat and fish by sealing them in airtight containers.


"In the late fifteenth century, ... this country's pottery industry entered

a period of prolonged expansion... So useful were these new eathenwares that

by 1569 the term 'potting' had been adopted to describe the whole process.


He then describes the making of pies, as we have discussed here previously,

the top is then punctured and butter poured in.


Apparently early on it was common to cook the meat in the earthen crock,

let it cool and then pour in the butter. It seems to have taken a while

(about sixty years from my previous reading of this. I can't find it right

now) for them to realize that it was much better to pour in the butter and

seal out the air while the meat was still hot.


There is also a mention of potting meat and fish in butter in the previous

chapter (p22).


I seem to remember that at first the meat was just put in the pot and

covered with butter. Later on it was found to be better to shred the meat

up first before pouring in the butter rather than leaving it in larger



Peter Brears gives a lot more dates for the 17th and 18th century stuff

than he does the earlier stuff. So I've had some trouble determining

exactly which practices were done prior to 1600 and which weren't.


For those interested in period food preservation techniques I highly

recommend this book even though a large part of it deals with the

time periods after the ones we study.

- --

Lord Stefan li Rous    Barony of Bryn Gwlad    Kingdom of Ansteorra

Mark S. Harris             Austin, Texas           stefan at texas.net



Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2000 10:28:39 -0700 (PDT)

From: Chris Stanifer <jugglethis  at yahoo.com>

Subject: Re: SC - duck and bread


- --- Susan Fox-Davis <selene  at earthlink.net> wrote:

> Balthazar sez:

>> xtra duck fat?  Sounds like Confit makin's to me...


> Oh my that sounds good.  Say, there's a war next

> week here.  Got a good confit recipe?  I'm

> having trouble find one, for some reason.


Confit is actually one of the easiest things to make,

and no real recipe is needed.  It's a shame (and a

wonder) that it is not used more often  (aside from

expense, of course).


Get one whole duck (frozen is fine).  Cut it up into

"serving size" pieces (this means you choose how big

or small you want the pieces.  Seperate the leg and

thigh, or leave them attached...it's up to you).  Put

some thyme, salt, pepper and bay leaf in a mortar, and

smoosh it up real good.  Put the duck pieces in a

shallow bowl, rub the seasoning into them very well,

and stick some garlic cloves in between them (as many

as you like).  Wrap it up and let it refrigerate

overnight (24 hours is best).  Heat a large skillet,

and melt down about a pound of duck fat (or lard, if

you don't have enough duck fat yet...Manteca works

well for this, and is usually available in most

supermarkets).  Brown the duck pieces in the lard,

turning them until the are evenly browned.  Once they

are browned, cover the skillet and simmer slowly for

about an hour (they will be very tender at this

point...that's what you want.  The meat should be

falling off the bone).  When they are done, transfer

them to a crock or a bowl, and pour the fat over them

to COVER COMPLETELY (you may want to use some kind of

weight for this).  Let them cool to room temperature,

and then they are done!  They should last for about

two weeks at room temp, or much longer under

refrigeration.  When you are ready to use them, just

pull out a few pieces, scrape away a little of the

excess fat, and do whatever you want to with them.


So, essentially, the are bits of duck preserved in

fat...  It doesn't get much easier than that.


Balthazar of Blackmoor



Date: Tue, 30 Oct 2001 11:14:12 -0500

From: johnna holloway <johnna  at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

To: sca-cooks  at ansteorra.org

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Meat Preservation Sources


There seems to be some talk about meat

preservation so I thought I would mention

these books...


Food Conservation. Ethnological Studies.

edited by Riddervold and Ropeid.

24 papers from an international conference

held in 1987. ISBN: 0907325408

Pub. by Prospect Books, 1988.


Pickled, Potted, and Canned. How the Art and

Science of Food Preserving Changed the World.

by Sue Shephard. NY: Simon and Schuster, 2001.

This is new. no footnotes but there is a

bibliography. Quite readable.


For actual instructions on how to preserve at home

take a look at:

Stillroom Cookery by Grace Firth. McLean, VA: EPM

Publications, 1977.


Subject headings in case you want to do some

online exploring through library catalogues are


Canning and preservation-History



Johnnae llyn Lewis  Johnna Holloway



Date: Sun, 21 Sep 2003 11:52:58 -0400

From: phoenissa  at netscape.net (Ariane H)

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Smoked fish and meat--questions

To: sca-cooks  at ansteorra.org (Cooks within the SCA)


"Phlip" <phlip  at 99main.com> wrote:

> Have you tried preserving water birds in their own fat- confits? I

> understand that if done properly, they combine a reasonable shelf life

> with immediate edibility.


In my experience, even though confit does keep up to a month and can be

exquisitely delicious, you still do have to thoroughly reheat the meat

before eating it...which means building the fire, etc., and I believe

the goal is to find something that can be eaten with no preparation.


What about a pate or terrine?  They can be made with just about any

kind of meat (muscle-meat in addition to or even instead of liver) -

poultry or rabbit, as well as pork or wild boar.  I know it sounds like

an extravagance, but if made with only enough fat as is required to

keep it from spoiling, it doesn't have to be unhealthy.  I often find

them in cans or jars (usually imported from France), which don't need

to be refrigerated and have a shelf life of several months.  They same

ought to go for homemade stuff as well, I guess, depending on how it's

stored - in jars or maybe some kind of airtight ceramic container?  In

any case, it wouldn't need any extra prep once you arrived at camp, you

can just slice it and eat it with bread, or however you like.


Uunfortunately, I can't vouch for whether or not pates or terrines were

made anytime within the SCA period.  It doesn't seem unlikely, I just

haven't come across any references or recipes...anyway, just an idea I

thought I'd throw into the discussion. :)





<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