Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Food of Evandar: Roast fowl with Herbs

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It has been a while since I posted any sort of recipe. It is also a day where, at my house, we are dealing with a snow storm and I am interested in not making a whole lot of pots to wash even as the kids want to help cook. After a little consideration, I realized that what I am making for dinner would be rather common fare in parts of my little world.

Now the name of this recipe is an indication of how common it is. It is, however, a little bit deceptive. In the middle ages in our world, herbs was used as a general term for all parts of a plant and pretty much all manner of plant. It was applied to what we consider vegetables, herbs, and fruit.

The recipe itself is exceptionally simple. I am making a relatively small portion here because I have a household of four people (which has two children who are somewhat picky eaters on a regular basis). It is possible to do this with a whole bird. I, however, am using two chicken quarters cut into pieces with enough chopped vegetables to fill a 12 in cast iron skillet. My 'herbs' here are potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, and radishes. If you were making something that reflected the Middle Ages of our world, the potatoes and sweet potatoes would not be part of this because they didn't come into European cuisine until the Renaissance period. (This is because they are native to the New World, along with corn, modern squash, and tomatoes.)

In my little world, the variety of root vegetables used is pretty close to what you would expect for medieval Europe. They would also include tubers like cattail roots and the more exotic plants native to the world. Lower class people would be having this simple meal with a dash of what ever savory herbs they had collected in the wild (such as dill or fireweed). The upper classes would include more exotic things to their region. Thus, it could have peppercorns, salt, or cinnamon in it. The dish consists of a cleaned bird flattened and roasted upon a bed of root vegetables with spices mixed into the vegetables and upon the bird. The bird would have butter rubbed on it and the root vegetables would be mixed with a portion of oil sufficient to coat them and enough water to keep them from burning to the pan.

The pan would then be covered and cooked at a moderate temperature until the bird was cooked fully. For our purposes, this would be approximately an hour at 350 degrees F. When I added oil to the vegetables, I tossed them with it and some pepper, salt, thyme, and paprika. I then added approximately a cup of water. The chicken was set upon the vegetables. I spread about a tablespoon of butter over all four pieces of chicken. It is probably a little excessive, but I'm not going to deny myself a little luxury after a long day with two boys having a snow day from school. I put the salt, pepper, and thyme on the chicken. I also added garlic instead of paprika.

I covered my pan with aluminum foil because the pot lid that fit it would not cover the pot completely with the chicken in the pan. You want to make sure that your chicken and meat combination is well covered so that the steam from everything helps cook it more completely. When finished, you would serve the chicken with the tender veggies along side. I am also going to be making a loaf of soda bread to go with it. I haven't decided yet if soda bread is a common thing or not, but in the world of Evandar, a loaf of bread would be served with this, as with any meal.

Given the heaviness of the root vegetables, you could do well to serve this with a hard cider. You could also do well to replace the water in this recipe with chicken broth or hard cider. I'm sure that you would get a good result from adding onions to the mix. (I was going to put onion in but then discovered that my onion had gone bad in the depths of the refrigerator sometime last week.)

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