[Sca-cooks] Gervase Markham and "faux venison"
Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius
adamantius1 at verizon.net
Wed May 27 07:40:08 PDT 2009
On May 27, 2009, at 9:55 AM, Vandy J. Simpson wrote:
> I'm working on a menu for a late-period feast. One of the books I'd
> been reading, Tudor Food and Cookery, mentions that "Gervase Markham
> suggested that by marinating beef or ram-mutton in vinegar, beer and
> turnsole (a bluish colourant) you could produce counterfeit venison
> for a pie!"
"111. Of baking red deer, or fallow, or anything to be kept cold.
"When you bake red deer, you shall first parboil it and take out the
bones, then you shall if it be lean lard it, if fat save the charge,
then put it into a press to squeeze out the blood; then for a night
lay it in a mere sauce made of vinegar, small drink, and salt, and
then taking it forth season it well with pepper finely beaten, and
salt, well mixed together, and see that you good store thereof, both
upon and in every open and hollow place of the venison; but by no
means cut any slashes to put in the pepper, for it will of itself sink
fast enough into the flesh, and be more pleasant in the eating: then
having raised the coffin, lay in the bottom a thick course of butter,
then lay the flash thereon and cover it all over with butter, and so
bake it as much as if you did bake great brown bread; then when you
have draw it, melt more butter, with three or four spoonful of
vinegar, and twice so much claret wine, and at a vent hole on the top
of the lid pour in the same till it can receive no more, and so let it
stand and cool; and in this sort you may bake fallow deer, or swan, or
whatever else you may please to keep cold, the mere sauce only being
left out which is only proper to red deer.
"112. To bake beef, or mutton for venison.
"And if to your mere sauce you add a little turnsole, and therein
steep beef, or ram mutton; you may also in this manner take the first
for red deer venison, and the latter for fallow, and a very good
judgement shall not be able to say otherwise than that it is of itself
perfect venison, both in taste colour, and the manner of cutting."
--Gervase Markham, "The English Housewife", ed. Michael R. Best,
1986 McGill University Press
It appears to me that what's happening here is that venison is being
marinated [hence "mere sauce"] overnight before being baked in a crust
in an otherwise pretty straightforward manner. Markham is presumably
advocating adding a little bluish coloring to the marinade to enhance
the purple-red shade of the meat and create the illusion of venison.
I have no idea what that would do to the flavor, but with plenty of
pepper, wine, salt, vinegar, and a ton of butter, one never knows.
Texturally, my own experience is that one long-baked red meat in a
pie and served cold, is very much like another, with a dense and
almost waxy mouth feel. Season any two alike, and there'll be some
similarities. Season any two and color one to resemble the other, and,
well, it'll resemble it to some extent.
"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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