[Sca-cooks] old recipes - experimenting with really old ones

Kathleen Roberts karobert at unm.edu
Wed Jan 25 07:33:49 PST 2012

speaking of old recipes and playing with your food.... i made a savory stirabout this weekend as an experiment for Known World Cooks and Bards.  If I am talking about Early Irish Food, I wanted to have more of a base in something so simple and all present.  
I thought it was quite successful.  Husband did not run screaming from the house after tasting it.
Looking at Brehon law and monastic records from early Ireland (really early), I got the ingredients from things eaten in my period of interest (800 - 900 AD) and combined them as appropriate.  No cooking directions, and I had the choice of just dumping everything into a heavy pot, or breaking up the process a bit.
Of course, this is the fancy stirabout for high days and holy days monastically and upper nobility as per Brehon law.  Something more 'gruelish' could easily have been made with just water, oats and salt, but then the resident guinea pig would indeed have gone running out of the house and into the night. ;)
2 C chicken broth
3/4 C oatmeal
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
big pinch of dried thyme
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 T butter
1 scant T cream
Melt butter and fry onions until golden.  Add 1.5 cups of the chicken stock, salt, thyme and oatmeal.  Cook until thick and soupy, constantly stirring (there's a reason it is called stirabout).  Add remaining chicken stock to get the consistancy you wish.  Check for salt, add pepper to taste.  Add cream just before serving.
I was totally surprised at how good it was.  Had a meaty texture.  I think beef broth would have been too murky, Pork might be interesting, or vegetable broth.  I used rolled oats, but want to experiment with McCanns Steel Cut oats, which will definitely affect the texture and fresh thyme which would definitely affect the taste.
So now I have a savory as well as a sweet stirabout.  YEA!
Kathleen Roberts
Admissions Advisor
University of New Mexico
"Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy."   
W B Yeats

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