Potted foods in period and just out of period. Potted foods are cooked foods placed in containers sealed with fat.
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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
> 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.
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?
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.
(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
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
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
KITCHEN - THE RICH TRADITION OF EUROPEAN PEASANT COOKING" by Elisabeth Luard,
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?
> 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
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
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
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. :)