A Meal from the Oeconomia

Experimenting weekend again! Thank you to my awesome friends and test eaters.

The main course was the Gartenhuhn you already know:

To cook a garden chicken (Gartenhun)

Take a nicely large, thick and hard cabbage head and cut off the leaves around it carefully. Lay these leaves into a pot and all around the sides so that it cannot burn. Hollow out the cabbage head inside and fill it like a chicken, with onions, bacon or butter, parsley, egg, and cream. Set it into the pot and place several whole leaves into the space above it. Set it into a baking oven or stove (in Backofen oder in eine Bratroer) and let it roast until it turns out done and nicely brown like a roast chicken.

We used two wirsing heads and cooked the whole thing in a cast iron pot. Originally, they would more likely have used a pottery vessel. The filling was made with ten scrambled eggs and had 100g of cubed bacon and 3 onions added. Staindl has a recipe for stuffed cabbage head suggesting the filling is cooked that way. Of course, chopped boiled eggs or indeed raw eggs are equally possible. Herbs and spices were largely ad-libbed, except for the parlsey.

Nutmeg, thyme, savory, and marjoram go into the filling

After frying up the onions and bacon, I made scrambled eggs and filled in the hollowed-out cabbage heads. I intended to close them again by securing the bottoms with skewers, but the pot was too low to allow that. Instead, I heaped some leaves on top.

Baked at 190°C / 375° F for 90 minutes, the leaves I laid around the heads as a protective layer came out brown and dry, but the heads themselves were soft and moist.

We ate them with milk noodles and a kind of onion pancake called a Roßknecht. Recipes for these are to follow in time.

Johann Coler’s Oeconomia ruralis et domestica was a popular book on the topic of managing a wealthy household. It is based largely on previous writings by Coler and first appeared between 1596 and 1601. Repeatedly reprinted for decades, it became one of the most influential early works of Hausväterliteratur. I am currently working from a 1645 edition.

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