Roasted meat loaf from the Kuchenmaistrey

Hohlbraten (hollow roast) is a common recipe, so named after the hole the spit leaves. This was sometimes filled up with scrambled eggs or other stuffings.

2. xix. Item you make a hollow roast of veal thus: Chop this well and finely and put it in a mortar. Break eggs into it, many good yolks, and a little fine flour. Spice it in the mortar with salt and pound it together. Reserve the egg whites and beat it half (half of it? not until stiff?). Then take a broad goose spit and pick it until rough (give it a rough surface). Take the meat out of the mortar, brush the spit with the egg whites, wet your hands with them and work the meat all around the spit, properly long and even in one thickness. Press it well with wet hands, as long as the roasting fire (der brat) is. Lay it by the fire. At first (let it be) small embers and turn it properly away from the fire. Afterwards, the longer (you roast it, use) strong (rosch) coals. Baste it with melted old bacon, lardons, or butter. You may also add lardons or chopped bacon (to the meat) in advance, or butter, that moistens it again and it roasts very nicely. Or turn it unceasingly before the fire and do not pause (feyer sein nicht), that way it turns out crisp (rosch). Make long cuts into it and strew them with ginger powder (ingwer staub). Stab it with a wooden skewer. Take meat broth and colour it yellow nicely. Add fat to it and heat it in a pan. Baste the roast with that so it stays soft.

This is not a terribly exciting recipe, but the description provides some much-needed insight into the versatility and refinement of cooking techniques. The parameters of cooking – various bastes, larding, distance from the fire, speed of turning, the roughness of the (wooden) roasting spit – that are usually assumed are made explicit here. The comparison with the very similar recipe #91 in the Mittelniederdeutsches Kochbuch demonstrates how useful such details are to a reconstruction. Depending on the spices, it will also quite likely be broadly popular with modern eaters.

I will continue posting recipes from the Nuremberg Kuchenmaistrey produced around 1490, but my mode will change. Instead of translating one daily and posting it here, I will try to use what time there is to translate as much as I can and post only some of them here. Once the entire text is done, I will try to get it published either as a book, or online.

The Kuchenmaistrey was the earliest printed cookbook in German (and only missed being the earliest printed cookbook in any language by a few years). The Kuchenmaistrey (mastery of the kitchen) gave rise to a vibrant culture of amended and expanded manuscript copies as well as reprints spanning almost a century. The recipes seem designed to appeal to a wealthy, literate and cosmopolitan clientele.

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