Chicken with a mystery ingredient – from the Cologne notes

I still don’t know what ‘villich’ is, but I will post it now.

Item to make a yellow pepper sauce (to go) over a chicken. You shall boil the chicken till it is done, in a short broth with a little butter added (darauif) and pepper and salt and sugar and saffron and nutmeg and gingerbread (peffer kouchen) and mixed with vinegar.

Item to fill the chicken, use bacon and villich (?) and pepper and two egg yolks. That is chopped together, the chicken is filled with this.

This is not an atypical recipe for its time. The sauce is a fairly typical pfeffer, thickened with gingerbread in this case, and the filling looks quite plausible. Parallels suggest that villich may be some kind of fruit, as other such recipes specify apples or pears, but I have not yet been able to find any convincing explanation.

In the late 16th century, someone jotted down a set of cooking recipes in a copy of L. Frucks ‘Teutsch Formular vnnd Rhetoric’ of 1579. They were published in H. Müller: Kochrezepte aus dem 16. Jahrhundert. In: Rheinisch-westfälische Zeitschrift für Volkskunde 14 (1967) 83-86 and are available online thanks to Thomas Gloning‘s inestimable website. Judging by the dialect, the writer is from the greater Cologne area, likely near the border with the Netherlands. The recipes are fairly standard for their time, but interesting in details such as cooking and serving instructions.

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