Pickling chickens from the Inntalkochbuch

A short recipe, but an interesting date shift

<<13>> Von eingepickten hünern

Pickled chickens

Take raisins, onions, almonds, vinegar and wine, cut the chickens into three parts, put them in(to the pickle), season them with spices, and serve.

This is just a brief recipe with very little in the way of explanation, and it is not even really clear whether eingepickt should properly be rendered as ‘pickled’ or just as ‘in a sauce’. But the broad similarity to the instructions in the Oeconomia for pickling poultry suggest that it is the former. Especially the wine sauce seems a close relative:

(…) take white wheaten bread (Semmel) and gingerbread (Pfefferkuchen) and pour wine or sweet small beer (süsse Langweil) into a pot and lay the grated gingerbread in it. Thus you can prepare it, let it boil well and when it has boiled, pass it through a sieve and put it into a clean pot again. Set it by the fire and add sugar or honey, and give it a sour savour, season it well with pepper and saffron and salt it, and taste it for proper measure. When it has boiled with the spices, set it by the fire so that it cools. Take warm table beer (Tischbier) and wash the poultry with it, and take a small cask (according to how much poultry you have) that is made properly for this purpose (or: specifically for this? gerecht ist dazu gemacht) and lay the birds into it. (…)

The onions and raisins are an obvious difference, but this does not mean the recipe is of a different kind. I am not taking it as conclusive proof, but at the very least it suggests we should consider the practice of pickling cooked poultry may date, at least, to the late fifteenth century.

The Inntalkochbuch is from a monastic library in Bavaria’s Inntal region (the Inn is a tributary of the Danube), dating to the late 15th/early 16th century. It is written in Upper German and strongly reflects local culinary traditions, though some of its recipes are commonplaces found elsewhere.

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