"Maken mortreux, and wel bake a pye" - The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales

46. Mortrews. Take hennes and pork and seeth hem togyder. Take the lyre of hennes and of the pork and hewe it small, and grinde it al to doust; take brede ygrated and do therto, and temper it with the self broth, and alye it with yolkes of ayren; and cast theron powdour fort. Boile it and do therin powdour of gynger, sugur, safroun and salt, and loke that it be stondying; and flour it with powdour gynger.

- Forme of Cury

Some scholars translate mortreux as "stew," but a better definition comes from Curye on Inglish: "a boiled dish of finely ground food in broth." Pleyn Delit treats mortreux as a soup, but also claims that it can be prepared as a pate, which appears to be how the medieval recipe wishes it done, as we are advised to "loke that it be stondyng." Other period recipes also imply that the mixture is at least slightly thick. The above receipt calls for powdour fort, which Curye on Inglish defines as a mixture of ground spices, usually pepper and/or cloves. Mortreux is named after the mortar in which it was prepared.

Bring the broth to a boil; add the chicken, pork, & liver, and return to boil. Reduce heat, stir in bread crumbs, egg yolks, & spices. Allow to cook for several minutes. The final product should be like a thick soup or or a thin pate. If too thin, add more bread crumbs. If too thick, add extra broth. Serve in bowls & garnish with ginger-sugar mixture.

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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