[Sca-cooks] Bukenade

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Mon Jul 13 04:45:14 PDT 2009

On Jul 12, 2009, at 11:03 PM, Stefan li Rous wrote:

> --On Thursday, July 09, 2009 4:53 PM -0400 Barbara Benson
> <voxeight at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I think in this specific recipe the thing that intrigues me the most
>> is the "erbes ystewed in grees" which I read as herbs stewed in
>> grease. In my mind if you are stewing something in grease then it is
>> being fried, at least that is how I would interpret the phrase.
>> Does anyone else get that?
> Yes, I saw that last week and wondered about this.
> <<< I had the same thought -- make sense, heating/frying the  
> aromatics before
> adding to the stew.
> toodles, margaret  >>>
> But why does it make sense? I can imagine doing this with spices.  
> Roasting them is often done in recipes, although I'm not sure if it  
> was done in period.
> But wouldn't frying herbs in grease just give you wilted leaves and  
> some grease? Can someone tell this inexperienced cook (me) what this  
> does for you? This is done with spinach, right? But that's a texture  
> thing, correct?

Yes. As Bear and Urtatim, and possibly others, have discussed, the  
technique appears pretty frequently in various Middle Eastern and  
Asian cuisines, and can have various effects. One is to actually  
change the flavor and aroma profile of the spices by toasting or  
caramelizing them. Another is to blend the volatile essential oils in  
the spices with other oil (where oil is used) to blend the flavor of  
the spices with the flavors of the food. A third possibility is that  
when whole spices have been stored for a while, they may acquire a  
small percentage of off flavors due to oxidation, minor surface  
rancidity, bacterial activity, whatever. Gentle heating seems to bring  
out the flavors from the interior, which may be more intense and more,  
if I can borrow the expression, like what God intended.

Examples of this practice include the dry toasting of spices before  
grinding into a curry powder or garam masala, say, or the caramelized  
"masalas" that can be cooked down for hours in the case of some  
southeast Asian dishes (I had my son's Burmese young lady friend tell  
me the other day that the prawn curry I had made was nothing like the  
way her mother makes it... rather it was like the way her grandmother  
makes it, which apparently is the real deal, so I was pronounced The  
O.G.). Some Southern Chinese cooks fry ginger, shallots, garlic and  
sometimes chiles until _almost_ burnt, to flavor the oil before stir- 
frying meats or vegetables.

I suspect, though, that the frying of the herbs in bukkenade is more  
about counteracting a tendency of the herbs to harbor cold, moist  
humors. I'm guessing that the reason this dish always seems to be  
prepared with a white or sort of juvenile meat (veal, kid, rabbit,  
chicken, etc.), in the way it is usually prepared, is that for some  
reason somebody is looking to avoid the warm and dry qualities one  
might find, say, in roast venison, but adding the herbs, especially  
after boiling the meat, might go too far in the direction of cooling.  
So why include the herbs at all? Presumably for sharpness of flavor to  
offset the richness of veal and egg yolks.

Not trying to pretend this isn't a complete mystery to me, mind you...


"Most men worry about their own bellies, and other people's souls,  
when we all ought to worry about our own souls, and other people's  
			-- Rabbi Israel Salanter

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