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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

ENEBRO WITH A SAUCE FOR VENISON FROM ROMAN TIMES


juniper berry
Photo from: theBackofaHorse
L. Juniperus communis, Fr. genévrier commun, Eng. common juniper. Although the tree is a native to England, strangely there is no documentation until the 16th C. Juniper trees grow in Spain throughout the north and in mountainous regions including the Sierra Nevada, part of Granada.

Crushed juniper berries were used to extinguish the bad flavor from game birds. Apicius during the 1st C A.D. provides a sauce containing juniper berries for venison, which suggests could have been attempting to allay the sharp taste of the meat.

During the Middle Ages the berries were considered a spice although they could have been used with meat, poultry, cabbage and apples. In Al-Andalus, they were used commonly as a “spice” in cookery as saffron and cumin. The leaves were consumed for their hot flavor and the seeds for the bitterness from the tannin and resin content. These were added as seasoning for game, in lieu of pepper, roasted to substitute coffee and employed as an important preservative of meat. The 17th C English recipe for Cumberland Mutton Ham is smoked with juniper wood. It is thought this produces the best flavour.

The berries, containing sugars that incite fermentation, are hand picked at the end of summer. English soldiers traveling with William of Orange or William III of England (reigned 1689-1702), brought a jenver drink from Holland (consisting of fermented juniper berries), which later became known as gin.

L'Epicure, Paris, Venison
Photo from garythefoodie

Medicinally the berries have been used as an antiseptic. During the 14 and 15 C. juniper was burned in hospitals with rosemary as an antiseptic. Juniper has been applied externally to wounds and taken internally to augment the appetite and to increase gastric secretions. It relieves rheumatic pain when applied externally to the inflamed area. Castillans claim there is no plant used as much as juniper. Both England and Spain seem to have used the berry for infinite remedies including: dropsy, gout, sciatica, scurvy, palsies, falling-sickness, coughs and respiratory problems, as consumption, stomach cramps, convulsions, ruptures, to induce labor in child birth, to help the memory, to strengthen optic nerves and, therefore, improve eyesight. Symbolically juniper came to signify love, protection including from theft, health, and exorcism. 

[Apicius/Flower. 1958:VIII:IV:2:187; Bodelón. 1994:71; ES: Herbs. Oct 8, 02; ES: Renfrow. Jun 16, 04; Chirino/Herrera. 1973:205:5:207:12:271; Lord. Unpublished; and Pullar. 1970:256]

SAUCE FOR ALL KINDS OF VENISON, BOILED AND ROAST ADAPTED FROM APICIUS' VII:IV:2 IUS IN VENATIONIBUS OMNIBUS ELIXIS ET ASSIS

Ingredients

The Sauce without Oxygarum
Photo by: Lord-Williams
9.3 gr. 1/3 oz ea of: rue, lovage[1], celery-seed, juniper[2], thyme, dried mint
2.8 gr 1/10 oz pennyroyal
1 lb honey

Preparation

Pound the ingredients into a fine powder. Place this in a jar of honey  and use this mixture with oxygarum (a vinegar garum sauce).[3]



[1] Dried celery leaves were used as a substitute.
[2] If using gin as a substitute = 1 c and 2 tsp but perhaps it would be better to add half and taste before adding the remainder.
[3] Apicius provides two recipes, I:III:XX 1 and 2, p 59 The first is: “½ oz pepper, 2 scruples seseli from Gaul, 6 scruples cardamon, 6 scruples cumin, 1 scruple aromatic leaf, 6 scruples dry mint, pound and powder all this and then bind with honey. When needed add liquamen and vinegar. “ The second is: 1 oz pepper, 1 oz each of parsley, caraway, lovage. Pound, bind with honey. When needed add liquamen and vinegar." It is definitely necessary as the juniper sauce alone is very powerful.


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