The Viandier of Taillevent (see bibliography for details) is a collection of manuscript cookbooks spanning the 13th to 15th centuries grouped by convention under the banner of Tirel de Taillevent, a 14th century cook to Charles V. It’s a classic of medieval cookery, less famous but more cookable than The Forme of Cury.
Chevreaux, metez en eaue bollante [reffaictes les en eaue boullant] et les tirez hors et les hallez ung pou en la broche, et puis les lardez, et menziez a la cameline.
Goat (kid goat), put in boiling water [Terence Scully the great medieval cookery scholar tells me reffaictes is a term of art for parboiling long enough to fill the meats cells with water but no longer], and sear them a little on a spit, and then lard them and serve with cameline sauce.
I seared them on the grill because my spit had fire while I was cooking quail a half hour before – I’ll revisit this when I talk about the quail. Before roasting I larded the goat with salt pork, but any sort of bacon would work as well.
I parboiled pretty briefly – 2 minutes, perhaps – and seared just long enough to trap the juices inside for roasting. I expected the goat to be goatier (not sure how I imagined this goatiness would manifest itself) but because most goat you’ll find is kid and just as lamb is decidedly mellower than sheep (aka mutton) it makes sense that it’s goatiness is subtle but pervasive.
Cameline sauce is one of the great medieval sauces – popular enough that you could buy a pint or two pre-made down at the market in Marseilles, Oxford or Paris in 1328. The concerned husband who wrote The Menagier de Paris in 1393 recommends his young wife pick up three half pints at the sauce-makers.
Pour faire cameline, prenez gingenbre, canelle et grant foison, girofle, grainne de paradiz, mastic, poivre long qui veult; puis coullez pain, trempé en vin aigre, et passez et sallez bien a point.
Grind ginger, a great deal of cinnamon, grains of paradise, mace [mastic], and if you wish, long pepper; strain bread that has been moistened in vinegar strain everything together and salt as necessary.
It doesn’t say what the base is – I think because it was assumed that everyone knew it to be red wine – and I played a little fast and loose with the grains of paradise (a popular medieval spice that is making a resurgence) using cubeb (similar to pepper) berries and cardamom to simulate it. I also skipped the long pepper though this is obtainable at Indian and some African grocers. For ginger I used some whole, dried galengale. This, a bit of mace (though a variant says mastic, a resin somewhat similar to gum arabic, which would serve to thicken the sauce), the cubebs and cardamom and a really significant quantity of cinnamon. You really can’t overstate how much cinnamon goes into this.
Most medieval sauces are thickened in this or a very similar manner – there was no roux, no corn starch, no arrow root until much later, and bread crumbs were about all that existed as a binder. With a little perseverance though, this method works pretty well: Just press the whole mess through a fine sieve, taking time to stir and let the mixture drip though until all that is left is in the sieve is a thick, purple paste.
You could probably serve this paste on crackers. Not that I’m suggesting this would be a good idea, but you could definitely do it.
The sauce is then heated gently until it reduces just a bit and the flavors successfully intermingle. I served it on the side, but afterwards experimented with a more Nouveau cuisine look – thin sliced goat shoulder with cameline sauce. Note the verticality – I’m going to put this on the menu at my restaurant Le Vielle Nouveau.
The sauce is actually worthy of being revisited – it has a touch of the sensuousness of mole poblano: the savory combined with the trickery of the cinnamon that causes your taste buds to interpret sweetness where there is none. I think you could put this on green beans and it would be a definite sensation on pork. Especially sliced thin and piled in a little porcine volcano with cameline rolling down the sides.