The Mortar Chicken Experiment

Following up on yesterday’s recipe, I wanted to give it a try:

Mörserkuchen at its prettiest, just before it falls apart

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.

Mashed ingredients – I suspect the intent may be to cut it finer, and it needs more saffron

I began with some defrosted leftover roast chicken, in this case from my birthday party and thus another fifteenth-century recipe. Since I was not really sure how small the ‘small’ in the recipe here means, I went with a fairly coarse chopping. After cutting up one chicken breast, I added one finely cubed slice of white bread. Again, I am not sure whether this should be dried or fresh, grated, chopped, or soaked and mashed, so I went with one option first. Salt, pepper, and a little saffron went into the mix which I then stirred three eggs into. The result was a kind of thick batter.

Did you know hot metal looks exactly like cold metal?

In the meantime, I heated up my mortar. I found this lovely piece of brass at a flea market two years ago and cleaned it up with wire brushes and metal polish, and now I finally had the opportunity to use it. Note I do not recommend actually cooking the dish this way. It is meant as proof of concept, not as a regular kitchen habit. Having pre-heated the mortar in a 200°C oven, I added a dollop of butter. I erred on the side of caution here – more would have been better and might have stopped the cake from sticking. Then I spooned in the batter and returned the mortar to the oven at 175°C.

Ready to go, already sizzling

The result was pretty good. It stuck to the sides in a few places which meant it did not come out as neatly as it was probably supposed to, but it held together nicely and tasted quite nice. The dish is not a culinary epiphany – it reminded me a little of chicken nuggets – but it went well with sweet mustard and, later, in a wrap with sliced cucumber, which is obviously not historical. I guess it should be possible to replicate it in a cast-iron skillet or something similarly less problematic.

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