Tuesday, 6 November 2012

To stew capons in white broth Tudor Recipe

This is a traditional Elizabethan recipe for a classic dish of chicken and prunes stewed in a white stock made from beef bones. The recipe is derived from the Proper Newe Booke of Cookerye, 1557 edition (first published in 1545), which is one of the first recipe books printed in England.

Here is the original recipe from the Book:

To stewe capons in whyte brothe
Take foure or fyue biefe bones to make youre brothe, then take them oute when they are ſodden and ſtreyne the brothe into another potte, then putte in youre capons hole wyth roſemarye and putte them into the pot, and let them ſtewe, and after they haue boyled a whyle, putte in hole Mace bounde in a whyte clothe, and a handefull or twayne of hole perſely and hole prunes , and lette them boyle well, and at the takyng vp put to a lyttle vergis, and ſalte, and ſo ſtrawe them vpon ſoppes and the marybones aboute and the marrow layde hole aboue them, and ſo serue them forth.

In the original above, I have kept the long-s 'ſ' from the original text rather than rendering as the modern 's'

For the Modern Redaction:

To stew capons in white broth Recipe


4 beef marrowbones
1  whole, oven-ready chicken
1 sprig of rosemary, tied together
2 onions, sliced into rings
2 blades mace
100g pitted prunes
1 handful flat-leaf parsley
60ml verjuice (or white wine vinegar)
thin white bread, toasted


Begin with the beef stock. Place the marrowbones in a large pot and cover with 4l of water . Bring to a simmer and skim off all scum and fat from the surface. Now bring to a boil and continue boiling for about 2 hours, or until the liquid has reduced in volume to about 1.5l. Take off the heat and strain the stock into a bowl.

Arrange a layer of sliced onion in the base of a large stockpot or casserole dish. Sit the chicken on top then add the remaining onions and the rosemary. Add in enough of your stock to come half way up the sides of the chicken then add the mace. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 40 minutes then add the parsley, verjuice and prunes.

Season to taste with salt the continue boiling for about 10 minutes more, uncovered, or until the prunes are tender. Arrange the toasted bread on a serving dish. Remove the chicken from the pot and cut into serving pieces. Arrange these on top of the toasted bread pieces. Remove the prunes from the stock and use to garnish the birds.

Pour over a couple of ladlefuls of the stock and serve.

There are more traditional and historic recipes on the Traditional and Historic recipes page of this blog.

If this recipe has piqued your interest, then the complete text of the book is now available from Amazon, with all the original text, a translation into modern English and redactions of all the recipes so that you can actually cook them at home. For the first time, the full Tudor book is available for purchase, all for around $5 (£2.60).

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