"For blankmanger, that made he with the beste" - The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales

28. Blawmanger. Tak the two del of rys, the thridde pert of almoundes; wash clene the rys in leuk water & turne & seth hem til thay breke & lat it kele, & & tak the melk & do it to the rys & boyle hem togedere. & do therto whit gres & braun of hennes grounde smale, & stere it wel, & salte it & dresch it in disches. & frye almaundes in fresch gres til they be browne, & set hem in the dissches, & strawe theron sugre & serue it forth.

- Utilis Coquinario

Chaucer's cook is an expert at making blankmanger, which translates as "white food." Judging by the many versions of the recipe that appear in period cookbooks, most medieval cooks were probably at least familiar with this dish. By the strictest definition, blankmanger is any bland, white pottage based on almond milk, and (except for a few fish-day versions) contains ground poultry, thickened with rice flour; the standard English flesh-day version was ground capon (or chicken) with rice and almond milk. In some recipes the poultry is in chunks, rather than ground up. Today's modern blancmange is a type of rice-pudding dessert, much beloved by the English, and only bears a slight resemblance to the medieval forerunner.

Bring to a boil the rice, milk, & salt. Reduce heat, stir in chicken, & cover; allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed and rice is fluffy. Garnish with almonds and a sprinkle of sugar.

Real almond milk may be substituted with the modern Swedish method of flavoring whole milk with almond oil or extract.

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© James L. Matterer

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Book II. A Chaucerian Feast Part 1 | Part 2

Book I. A Chaucerian Cookery Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3