Ancient Roman Cookoff Entry 2: Two Sauces for Fowl and a Patina of Asparagus and Grouse by Deana Sidney

Patina of Asparagus and Grouse by Deana Sidney

Friend of Silk Road Gourmet, Ms. Deana Sidney, of Lost Past Remembered has cooked several recipes with the garum I sent her.
From her magical kitchen come two sauces for chicken or fowl and a cold patina of asparagus and grouse (or figpecker, should you have one on hand) that use the garum I produced in the backyard last year.

Please check out her post, recipes and stories about one of Rome’s baddest Emperors – Heliogabalus. Deana writes, “the green sauces for the chicken are not unlike a more complex pesto that would become ubiquitous in Italian cuisine a millennium or so later. The Romans loved sauces and I loved the many recipes for the sauces so much, I just couldn’t stop at one so made two, both are fabulous.”

The patina which is made with eggs and not sheets or dough or “noodles” like those used in lasagna is a lot like a modern quiche.  The eggs are flavored with a mixture of wine and garum called oenogarum – with delicious results.

Also, be in awe of Deana’s beautifully composed photos like the one above – with fresh azalea blossoms strewn across the spring table.  And lastly, look forward to more dishes using garum in the Roman cookoff in the days and weeks ahead. Deana writes: “The green sauces for the chicken are not unlike a more complex pesto that would become ubiquitous in Italian cuisine a milennium or so later. The Romans loved sauces and I loved the many recipes for the sauces so much, I just couldn’t stop at one so made 2, both are fabulous.  Although I could only guess at the proportions, one turned out slightly sweet and the other slightly tangy. They are delicious with salmon.

The asparagus ‘quiche’ is brilliantly flavored and accessorized with meat ( I did take the liberty of substituting grouse meat for ‘figpeckers’ but duck breast would work well as would chicken tenders if you wanted a milder flavor) and reminded me of the subtle beauty of the Japanese custard dish, chawan mushi (that I wrote about HERE).

Just a note for ingredients.  As you may have surmised, herbs like lovage and rue are not on supermarket shelves.  I sent for mine (and they arrived in 4 days) from a wonderful resource I found last year when I needed hyssop and pennyroyal for medieval recipes.   The Grower’s Exchange in Virginia has a remarkable selection of unusual herbs and beautiful plants.  The arrive in perfect condition and after 3 deliveries I can say that with confidence.   Hyssop is one of my favorite discoveries and tastes like many sweet herbs all in one plant, pennyroyal is an incredibly sweet mint that is wonderful and lovage is a good-sized perennial that looks like giant parsley and tastes like celery… you only need a bit to flavor a dish. Rue is interesting, bitter and bad for you in large quantities (like pennyroyal).  It has been used for thousands of years in cooking and as a medicine for everything from insect repellant to eye wash.

The recipes (written in capitals) that follow are taken verbatim from Apicius.  After that are my versions.

Sauce for Fowl 1

PEPPER, LOVAGE, PARSLEY, CELERY SEED, RUE, PINE NUTS, DATES, HONEY, VINEGAR, BROTH, MUSTARD AND A LITTLE OIL.

1 date, seeded
3 T broth
½ t pepper
2 t chopped lovage
2 t chopped rue
2 T toasted pine nuts
½ t powdered mustard
2 t honey
1 T garum or fish sauce
½ t celery seed
¼ c chopped parsley
3 T vinegar
1 to 2 T oil to taste

Warm the broth and soak the date in it till softened. Puree in a blender with the stock.  Add the herbs and nuts and spices, puree. Add the vinegar and oil and blend.

Sauce for Fowl 2

PEPPER, LOVAGE, PARSLEY, DRY MINT, FENNEL BLOSSOMS [1] MOISTENED WITH WINE; ADD ROASTED NUTS FROM PONTUS [2] OR ALMONDS, A LITTLE HONEY, WINE, VINEGAR, AND BROTH TO TASTE. PUT OIL IN A POT, AND HEAT AND STIR THE SAUCE, ADDING GREEN CELERY SEED, CAT-MINT; CARVE THE FOWL AND COVER WITH THE SAUCE.

1 t pepper
2 t lovage
¼ c parsley
2 t mint
½ t fennel pollen
2 T wine
1 T garum or  fish sauce
¼ c roasted hazelnuts
1 t honey
2 T vinegar
2 T broth
2 T oil
½ t celery seed
1 t catmint or catnip or pennyroyal, chopped

Put first 8 ingredients into a blender and blend ingredients including the hazelnuts, then toss in the rest and grind.

Roast Chicken with Apician Sauce for Fowl

Perfect Simple Roast Chicken 1-4 pound chicken, trussed
1 T garum or fish sauce
1 t pepper
1 -2 t salt (Thomas Keller recommends liberal salting for a crisp skin… it works)

Preheat oven to 450º.  Rinse the chicken and pat dry.  Leave on a rack in the fridge for 1 hour, uncovered.  Remove then rub the chicken with garum and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place on the rack in a pan and fill pan ½” full with stock or water (use the drippings for a lovely gravy on the side).  Cook for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes.

Allow to rest 15 minutes before carving for crisp skinned but very juicy chicken.

Another Cold Asparagus Dish

COLD ASPARAGUS PIE IS MADE IN THIS MANNER [1] TAKE WELL CLEANED [cooked] ASPARAGUS, CRUSH IT IN THE MORTAR, DILUTE WITH WATER AND PRESENTLY STRAIN IT THROUGH THE COLANDER. NOW TRIM, PREPARE [i.e. cook or roast] FIGPECKERS [2] [and hold them in readiness]. 3 [3] SCRUPLES OF PEPPER ARE CRUSHED IN THE MORTAR, ADD BROTH, A GLASS OF WINE, PUT THIS IN A SAUCEPAN WITH 3 OUNCES OF OIL, HEAT THOROUGHLY. MEANWHILE OIL YOUR PIE MOULD, AND WITH 6 EGGS, FLAVORED WITH ŒNOGARUM, AND THE ASPARAGUS PREPARATION AS DESCRIBED ABOVE; THICKEN THE MIXTURE ON THE HOT ASHES. THEREUPON ARRANGE THE FIGPECKERS IN THE MOULD, COVER THEM WITH THIS PURÉE, BAKE THE DISH. [When cold, unmould it] SPRINKLE WITH PEPPER AND SERVE.

Asparagus Custard with Grouse Breast

8 Asparagus cut into stalks and tips
2 T stock
2 T wine
2 T oil + 2 t oil
1 t pepper
4 eggs
1 T garum
Breasts from 1 grouse (you can get Scottish Grouse from D’Artagnan), or a D’Artagnan duck breast  or even chicken breast

Steam the asparagus tips for 5 minutes and the stalks for 8.  Chop the stalks and puree with 2 T stock.

Warm the oven to 375º.  In an ovenproof skillet, warm the pepper, oil, wine and stock for a few minutes. Whisk 4 eggs with the asparagus puree and the garum

Pour into the skillet and heat on the stovetop over medium heat for a few minutes until the eggs are slightly set on the bottom.  Put in the oven for 10 minutes.

Salt and pepper the breasts and sauté in 2 t oil for a few moments on each side and remove. Let rest for a few moments.  Slice into 3 or 4 slices each and reserve.

After the first 10 minutes, remove the skillet from the oven and lay the reserved asparagus tips and meat into the eggs which should be nearly set.  Put back in the over for 5 more minutes or until set.  Serve hot or cold.”

(Words except where indicated by Laura Kelley; adapted Roman recipe and photograph of Patina with Asparagus and Grouse and Chicken with Apician Sauce by Deana Sidney).

Share

2 thoughts on “Ancient Roman Cookoff Entry 2: Two Sauces for Fowl and a Patina of Asparagus and Grouse by Deana Sidney

  1. deana sidney

    Thanks Laura for letting me try the Garum. It was thrilling to taste a sauce I’ve read about for so many years. I have used Asian fish sauce in the past as a substitute but now that I taste the real deal… well, there’s nothing quite like it. Why don’t the still make it one wonders??? It is interesting because it doesn’t make things taste fishy in any way… more like pure umami flavor. Here’s hoping you’re going to be brewing a batch each summer to keep it on hand. I am seriously considering doing it myself!!

    Reply
    1. lauramk Post author

      Thanks to you for the cooking! Its interesting that two for two both cooks so far say that modern Asian sauces simply do not compare to garum. Thanks so much for participating – I hope you do brew your own garum. Its not hard or smelly, and it does produce a wonderful ingredient and condiment that works well in both historical and moden dishes.

      L

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>