Brawn from the Innsbruck MS

The Innsbruck MS also includes a recipe for pressed pig’s head, and again, it involves gelbwurtz:

Pig slaughter from the Tacuinum Sanitatis Casatanense, courtesy of wikimedia commons

43 If you would make a pressed pig’s head, singe the head clean and boil it so that the meat falls off it. And chop that meat small and season it with turmeric (gelbwurtz) and then take it and press it, or let it heat in a pan, or prepare pancakes (pletter) of eggs and spread them with this. Lay many of them on top of each other, wrap a white cloth around them and press them. Make a sauce of honey and gingerbread with it etc.

We tend to have more surviving recipes for fake presskopf than the real thing, though that is not surprising given how common its preparation was. This recipe, too, I suspect survives mainly because of the description of the stack of dough sheets. This is one aspect that interests me and I think I would like to play with come winter. The first obvious problem is to decide what the pletter of eggs are. The word can refer to leaves or sheets, and I suspect it means a kind of pancake here. However, it could also mean a more robust kind of egg dough, something like fresh pasta. It sounds very vaguely like a kind of yellow-dyed pork lasagna, and the jelly from the head’s connective tissues would make it hold together quite firmly.

The Innsbrucker Rezeptbuch is a manuscript recipe collection from a South German/Austrian context. It dates to the mid-fifteenth century and survives as part of a set of medical and culinary texts bound together. The editor Doris Aichholzer published it together with two related manuscripts and drew attention to the less elaborate, more practical recipes. The manuscript is of unknown provenance, but has been owned by the Habsburg emperors since at least the early sixteenth century. It is now held at the Nationalbibliothek in Vienna. An edition, German translation and commentary can be found in Doris Aichholzer: Wildu machen ayn guet essen… Drei mittelhochdeutsche Kochbücher, Peter Lang Verlag Berne et al. 1999

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