Garlic and Horseradish Sauces

We are back with the Innsbruck MS, and these are some interesting sauce recipes that should add zest to many a boring dish:

Horseradish, courtesy of wikimedia commons

117 If you would make a sauce from nuts, take nuts and semel bread and hard-boiled eggs, but only take the whites of the eggs. Pound it together and pass it through with wine, spice it and salt it gently, thus the sauce will be white. White sauce with garlic is passed through with semel bread and not salted, and you use a little meat broth into it to thin it etc.

118 If you would make a green sauce of garlic, take the green (of the garlic?) and parsley and chop it together. Pound it and pass it through a cloth with semel bread and with wine or vinegar to the thickness of a pfeffer sauce etc.

119 If you would prepare a sauce of horseradish (chren), take horseradish and scrape it nicely along the root. Cut it into cubes and pound them. Add semel bread and pass it through with meat broth etc.

120 If you wish, also make a green sauce from the kraut (the greens of the horseradish?), this is also good ground with wine, or also pound it and pass it through etc.

The underlying principle of these sauces is standard: the ingredients are ground to a paste and passed through a cloth or sieve together. In some cases, white semel bread is used as a binding agent. It is unclear whether these sauces are meant to be cooked or left raw. I suspect the latter, but many recipes never mention what their authors consider obvious.

What makes them stand out is their attractive simplicity. They depart from the medieval sterotype; there is no saffron, no heavy use of spices. Instead, we have bread-thickened white sauces based on garlic or horseradish with very little to get in the way of the essential flavour. Modern horseradish sauce tends to cut the bite with cream instead, but this would not be out of place on a modern South German table. Neither would an alternative sauce thickened with nuts mentioned in a different source. Then there are the green sauces that (I think) rely on the shoots pof garlic and horseradish to produce a tangy green sauce with less of a bite and more refreshing qualities. The garlic sauce if made to the thickness of a pfeffer, so it would look a lot like a pesto, though of course it includes neither nuts nor cheese. These all look like excellent accompaniments to a serving of roast or boiled meat.

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

This entry was posted in Uncategorised and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *