Mortar Chicken from the Mondseer Kochbuch

Another recipe from the Mondseer Kochbuch, one with plenty of parallels:

10 A roast chicken in a mortar

Take a roast chicken and cut it up (zuo glide) small. Take white bread and prepare a thin egg batter. Pound saffron and pepper. And mix this together, and mix it well in a vat. And take a mortar with fresh fat and put it in there altogether. Scum it with a ladle and cover it with a bowl, and frequently turn the mortar against the fire so that it gets an even heat. Pour off the fat and pour it (the cooked dish) our into a serving dish and serve it.

As a dish, this is not very interesting: Cooked chicken in a spicy egg batter thickened with bread gets thrown into a mortar with hot fat. If you cock your head sideways and squint, this could just barely be read as a breaded fried chicken, but it is far more likely a variation on the theme of Mörserkuchen, egg batters fried in heated mortars, that we find so often in German sources. Interestingly, it looks like a meeting of the standard Mörserkuchen made with bread and some chicken bits (The Königsberg MS #20 specifies that livers or feet are fine) and the dish known by the slightly enigmatic name of kungs huner that does specify not add bread at all. We have at least two parallel recipes for the latter, again from the Königsberg MS and Heidelberg Cod Pal Germ 551. It is possible that the difference in spicing – ginger in the latter recipes versus saffron and pepper in the Mondseer Kochbuch – may have been what distinguished kungs huner as such, but I doubt it. Certainly, given the degree to which the two sources depend on a shared tradition, I would want to see independent verification that ginger belongs in that dish.

The Mondseer Kochbuch is a recipe collection bound with a set of manuscript texts on grammar, dietetics, wine, and theology. There is a note inside that part of the book was completed in 1439 and, in a different place, that it was gifted to the abbot of the monastery at Mondsee (Austria). It is not certain whether the manuscript already included the recipes at that point, but it is likely. The entire codex was bound in leather in the second half of the fifteenth century, so at this point the recipe collection must have been part of it. The book was held at the monastery until it passed into the Vienna court library, now the national library of Austria, where it is now Cod 4995.

The collection shows clear parallels with the Buoch von guoter Spise. Many of its recipes are complex and call for expensive ingredients, and some give unusually precise quantities and measurements. It is edited in Doris Aichholzer’s “Wildu machen ayn guet essen…” Drei mittelhochdeutsche Kochbücher: Edition, Übersetzung, Quellenkommentar, Peter Lang, Berne et al. 1999

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