A Boke of Gode Cookery Presents

Conyng, Hen, or Mallard

PERIOD: England, 15th century | SOURCE: Harleian MS 4016 | CLASS: Authentic

DESCRIPTION: Rabbit, Chicken or Duck in Onion Wine Sauce


Take Conyng, Hen, or Mallard, and roste him al-moste ynowe; or elles choppe hem, and fry hem in fressh grece; and fry oynons myced, and cast al togidre into a potte, and caste there-to Canell; then stepe faire brede with the same broth, and drawe hit thorgh a streynour with vinegre. And when hit hath wel boiled, caste the licour thereto, and pouder ginger, and vinegre, and ceson hit vppe, and then thou shall serue hit forth.

- Austin, Thomas. Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books. Harleian MS. 279 & Harl. MS. 4016, with extracts from Ashmole MS. 1429, Laud MS. 553, & Douce MS 55. London: for The Early English Text Society by N. Trübner & Co., 1888.


  • 1 three- to five-pound rabbit, chicken, or duck, cut into serving pieces
  • 2 medium onions
  • Butter for sautéing
  • 1 C dry wine
  • 1 C chicken or other stock
  • 1 C white bread crumbs
  • 1/4 C wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. each cinnamon, black pepper, and powdered ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. each cloves and mace
1. Preheat oven to 450° F.

2. Place cut up rabbit or fowl on a rack in a roasting pan, dot with butter, put it in the oven, reduce temperature to 350° and roast for half an hour to forty-five minutes. Or, in a large frying pan or heavy pot, over medium heat, melt butter and brown the meat well on all sides. Remove from pan or pot.

2. Mince the onions, and sauté them in butter in a large frying pan or heavy pot, until they are translucent.  

3. In a heavy pot, over medium heat, combine meat, onions, wine, stock, vinegar, and all spices except ginger. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for half an hour, or until meat is thoroughly cooked and tender.

4. Remove from heat and stir in ginger. Put meat and sauce into a serving dish.

Yields two and a half cups of sauce.


An onion sauce like this is called a cive; the word is from the same root as chive. I thicken the sauce by adding bread crumbs, rather than soaking bread in broth and vinegar and adding that.

Metric, Celsius, & Gas Mark Equivalencies

A Boke of Gode CookeryRecipes from A Newe Boke of Olde Cokery

Conyng, Hen, or Mallard © 2003 Rudd Rayfield | This page © 2003 James L. Matterer

A Newe Boke of Olde Cokery

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