Turkey Roasts from de Rontzier

Continuing the loose series of posts concerning the impact of the Columbian exchange, today I present some more recipes for turkey, first roasted, from Franz de Rontzier:

Dutch engraving of a turkey from 1659, courtesy of wikimedia commons.

Roasts of Turkeys (Kalkunischen Huenern)

If something should be kept of these (roasted) turkeys, you make chopped dishes (kleingehackt essen) from it.

1 You fill a turkey with sawr (vinegar or alegar) or wine, and when it has lain (gegangen) this way for a while, you should again pour in wine or sawr and clean it out over a few hours. Truss it and stick it half with cloves and then sprinkle bacon with salt and wrap it around it with paper over it. Let it cook slowly and baste it with drippings, and sprinkle it with salt when you wish to serve it.

2 Item roast the turkey plain. Then boil cubed toasted bread, cinnamon, sugar, and small raisins in red wine, but do not let it boil for long. Place it in a silver dish, lay the turkey on it, strew it with sugar-coated cloves and serve it cold or warm etc.

3 Item you fry three or four apples and onions in butter, stir (scramble) it with three or four eggs and chop it with the fat of the turkey, pepper, ginger, mace, and sugar. Then you stick three or four hard-boiled eggs with cloves, mix them into this and fill the turkey with that. Roast it and baste it with drippings, and sprinkle it with salt when you wish to serve it.

4 Item chop scrambled eggs, white bread, gooseberries (stichbirn), nutmeg, ginger, saffron, sugar, and a little salt together. Fill the turkey with that and roast it, and when it is done, put gooseberries and butter into a pan and make them boil up, then pour it over the turkey and sprinkle it with sugar etc.

5 Item you roast it plain and baste it with butter. Then you pour beef broth over toasted white bread, lay the turkey on this together with marrowbones, and let it cook together.

6 Item you lard half the bird with bacon and stick the other half with cloves. When it is half cooked, lay toasted bread in a silver dish, pour beef broth and drippings over it, strew it witzh pepper, let it boil up on the coals, put the turkey on top of it and then serve it etc.

7 Item you brown it over the coals. Then you lay thinly sliced bacon on a table and cut a few bitter oranges into thin slices. Lay those on the bacon. Mix white bread, two or three eggs, sugar, pounded ginger and nutmeg, and spread it on the bacon with a knife. Sprinkle it with salt and wrap it around the turkey. Let it cook until it is well done. Mix dripping, sugar, and rosewater, and pour that over it when you wish to serve it, and strew it with sugar etc.

8 Item you roast a turkey and when it is done, you pour over butter and sprinkle it with salt. Boil white bread in wine and press out the wine again and mix it with rosewater, egg, sugar, and salt. Baste it gently while you turn it, thus it will be coated with the mixture. Sprinkle it with salt and serve it etc.

(p. 214-216)

These are not unusual ways of cooking poultry in sixteenth-century Germany, though they are very luxurious. Fashionable ingredients like bitter oranges, rosewater, spices, and sugar elevate the already exclusive roast turkey to courtly standing. Again, we see the familiar pattern playing out: A New World ingredient fits into a known culinary slot and is treated like a familiar one. It is very rare for foreign techniques to be adopted along with foreign livestock or plants in Western Europe.

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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