Some experiments with fritters

Today, I had the opportunity to meet with a few friends who are similarly excited about all things medieval for a craft session, Since my craft is historical cooking, I provided the afternoon snacks.

The first one was from the recipe collection of Meister Hans:

Recipe #73 Ain frömdes geprattens mach also

A foreign roast make thus

Item this is called a roast(ed food). Take roasted pears and firm sour apples and boiled pork, pepper, saffron, and anise. Bake/fry (pach) all that and make it soft with raw eggs so that it may stick together. Then make a sheet of eggs (pancake or dough sheet?) and spread the seasoned mix on it equally. Roll up the sheet and dredge it through an egg batter and fry it in fat until firm. (And/Or) stick it on a spit and roast it and baste it with eggs and fat. When it foams, it is fully cooked. Serve it. You may send it (to the table) like a proper roast.

I cooked a filling from ground pork and chopped apples and pears seasoned with salt, pepper, anise and saffron. It would take an extreme amount of saffron to be noticeable, and the colour is not affected, so I would say that is wasteful. But of course so is the entire dish.

The pancakes are thin, made from eggs, very little milk, and just enough flour to hold together. It may be worth trying this with just beaten egg another day. I brushed the edges with egg, rolled them up, and dipped the ends in more egg.

The pancake rolls need to be lowered into the hot oil very carefully, but they firm up during frying and the end result was very satisfying.

The second one was from the Rheinfränkisches Kochbuch:

Tube fritters

58 Take small reeds and cut off the knots and shape a strong dough over them. Fry them in much fat and then pull out the reeds, this way the fritters turn out hollow like flutes. Strew them with sugar if you will.

Since most reeds are protected species here, I used dry sticks from the garden, carved them to be slightly conical, dipped them in the hot opil, and wrapped a stiff dough of eggs, water and flour around them. The frying worked very well and the caps came off easily.

I tried both a version with yeast-leavened and unleavened dough. Both were satisfactory, but the unleavened dough tasted much better. I served them with a filling of raisins boiled with spices, as is suggested in a parallel source, but I suspect any kind of filling will do.

The third one was a failure. A recipe from Meister Hans for fish fritters:

Recipe # 151 Aber von vischn zue beraittn als aller gestalt

Again to prepare fish in the shape of eels

Item take and scale a pike and chop it to pieces, and remove its bones, or the fine flesh (praten – lit. roasting-grade meat) first, and pound it in a mortar. Add to it flour, honey and salt.

Mix this and place it in a pot that has a hole as big as a finger. Force the fish through this into a vessel with boiling oil. Give it the shape of an eel, and fry it well. Serve it forth.

Pike is well beyond my budget, so I ran the first experiment with pollack, mashed and mixed with honey, then worked into a slightly stiffer paste with flour.

I piped the mixture into the hot fat, but it turned out that it was not homogenous enough. I also underestimated how quickly the mixture of honey and flour would burn – the oil was much too hot. The resulting fritters did not taste badly – a little too salty, but all right. But they did not look like eels at all.

So that recipe needs more work. Next time, I will use a food processor to make a homogenous paste and set the temperature lower to begin with. That may already be enough to resolve the issues I had.

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