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Friday, August 24, 2012

CARNE DE VACA WITH 14TH C SARACEN WAY OF COOKING MEAT

moo
A cow capital from the facade of Santissima Trinità di Saccargia, Sardinia
(Sardinia was part of Aragon from 1420 until the beginning of the 18th C)

Photo from: antmoose

beef. This is a prime example of how weather conditions affected the cuisine of the peoples in the Middle Ages. Beef was not as popular in medieval Spain as that of sheep and goats, which were kept alive for shorter periods. Cows were maintained as long as they produced milk for cheese making and gave birth to calves that could be raised to work in fields, in contrast to northern Europe where horses were more economical fare for this purpose. Beef in Iberia, therefore, was tough fare for toothless consumers of the Middle Ages. Cows were more difficult to feed because of the long dry summers in central and Southern Iberiaas opposed to greener pastures in northern Europe. Sheep and goats, on the other hand, being transhumance, continue to be herded to northern Spain in summer and back to more temperate climates in the winter along routes providing enough shrubs and grass for the animals’ feed. 

Medieval authorities favored sheep by regulating sheep path laws, allowing them to travel throughout Spain. Nobles encouraged sheep production as they owned passes where herds were taxed when migrating from region to another. Too, nobles owned ships to take wool to Flanders to be woven into cloth and to bring that back for sale in Iberia. 

During that period, cows were about six inches shorter than their counterparts today making them the size of todays’ cattle dog. Normally, cows were slaughtered on St. Martin’s Day, November 8th. Contrary to popular belief, even in England beef was roasted only long enough to seal it. Then it was boiled for long periods of time. Villena instructs that beef should be carved in the same manner as oxen, see buey. Hams were salted, hung and eaten during winter months but they did not last as long as pork. See vaca. [Gitlitz. 1999:146-147:187; Martínez Llopis. Historia. 1981:169; Ritchie. 1981:66-67; Santich. 1995:3; and Villena. 1989:22b:31ª]
Sealing Beef in Bacon Fat
Photo by: Lord-Williams

A SARACEN WAY FOR COOKING MEAT ADAPTED FROM SENT SOVI #CLXXXI QUI PARLA CON CUYNARETS CARN A LA SARREŸNESCA[1]
For 4 persons

Ingredients

1 lb beef[2]
2 medium onions
4 slices of bacon
2-4 tbsp olive oil for frying
½ c vinegar
a few sprigs of parsley, oregano and thyme
1 tsp Duke’s powder[3]
salt to taste
4 slices of toast

Perfect for a Cold Winter Day!
Photo by: Lord-Williams
Preparation

Cut meat into equal pieces as that for stew. Thinly slice the onions. Fry the bacon. When done remove it from the pan. When cool crumble it and set aside. Seal the meat in the bacon fat and set aside. Add olive oil to the pan as needed and sauté the onions until translucent. Add the meat, vinegar and chopped herbs. Cover with 1 qt water and cook slowly for 1 hour. When half done add Duke’s powder.

Toast the bread and tear it into pieces putting the equivalent of one slice into each soup bowl. Spoon the broth, meat and onions over the bread.  Garnish with crumbled bacon and sprigs of herbs. 

[1] This indicates the Muslim influence on Catalan cuisine.
[2] The recipe does not specify the kind of meat to be used but the beef is very good.
[3] See blog titled cardamono published August 16, 2012 for the recipe.

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