Fake brawn from the Königsberg MS

Presskopf, made without meat, another ingenious Lenten trick.

[[23]] Wilthu geprest Sweinflkoppff machenn:

If you wish to make pressed pig’s head

Take carp, tench, and barbels, scale them well, cut them up small and place them in a pot. Add half wine and half water so that the liquid stands one finger’s length above the fish, put them over a good fire and let them boil. When they are boiled down by half (halp eingesoten), drain off the broth, take out the fish, remove their bones and …. chop the flesh (geprett) small. Mix it together, put it back into the pan, pour the broth back into it and let it boil down a little more. Also boil the scales and strain off the liquid, pour it all together into a small pot and leave it standing until it is hard. Then lift it above the fire again, take it off again soon and turn it out over a board. Cut it into a cold, sweet sauce during Lent in place of pressed pig’s head.

Presskopf, originally produced from the cooked meat on a pig’s head preserved in jelly made from its broth, continues to be appreciated in Germany and much of the rest of the world. Today, a higher grade of meat is used in commercial production, but in the medieval era, it was a good way to use the head rich in connective tissue and full of fiddly meat bits. This recipe tells the reader how to imitate the look and feel of such a head cheese using fish to serve during Lent. I am not sure about the taste, but the inventiveness and effort cannot be faulted.

The Königsberg MS was preserved in the archive of the Teutonic Order in Königsberg (today Kaliningrad) in Baltic East Prussia, though its language suggests that it belongs to a Central or South German background. It is not associated with any name that I am aware of and is dated to the late 15th century purely on the scribal hand. The recipe types match South German sources of that time. It was published in Gollub (Hg.): Aus der Küche der deutschen Ordensritter. in: Prussia 31 (1935) pp. 118-124.

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