Roasting heron with de Rontzier

After the previous two posts on the subject, I was gratified to find that de Rontzier has a brief, but interesting chapter on preparing heron.

Of roast heron

Heron has almost the flavour of fish

1 When it has been cleaned, you lay it in water for one night, then boil up vinegar, wash it in that, and stick butter and pepper on the inside. You roast it, and when it turns brown, you strew thinly sliced bacon with pepper and wrap it around the heron. Let it roast until it is done, and strew it with salt and pepper when you wish to serve it.

2 Item you stick (spickt) it with cloves, roast it, and baste it with butter. Boil onions in wine, pass them through a hair cloth, season them with pepper and mace and drizzle the bird with it. But if there is much broth, you shall place coals under the dripping pan (Bradpfannen) so that it boils briefly etc.

3 Item you lard it finely (spickt ihn klein) with bacon and roast it. Then you boil drippings (Bradfeist), wine vinegar and pepper together and pour it over the heron when you want to serve it, and strew it with pepper and salt etc.

4 Item you roast it and drizzle it with olive oil (Baumöhl), but with wine vinegar when it is done. Place pepper and ginger in the dripping pan (Bradpfannen), pour it over the bird when you want to serve it, and strew it with pepper and salt.

(p. 195-96)

As we would expect with a gamebird, there is a universal concern to prevent the meat from drying out by applying butter, bacon, or oil. I do not know whether any of the seasonings will work, but they all look restrained and viable to me. Of course again this is a recipe I am not likely to ever try, given herons are a protected species and probably not very tasty anyway.

Franz de Rontzier, head cook to the bishop of Halberstadt and duke of Braunschweig, published his encyclopaedic Kunstbuch von mancherley Essen in 1598. He clearly looks to Marx Rumpolt’s New Kochbuch as the new gold standard, but fails to match it in engaging style or depth. He is thus overshadowed by the twin peaks of Marx Rumpolt and Anna Wecker. What makes his work interesting is the way in which he systematically lists versions of a class of dishes, illustrating the breadth or a court cook’s repertoire. He is also more modernly fashionable than Rumpolt. Looking to France rather than Italy and Spain for inspiration, and some of the dishes he first describes may be genuine innovations.

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