For our first dish we've chosen Blanc Mang (spelling varies). This is an easy-to-make delicious dish that is also filling and inexpensive. I actually learned about this (and many other dishes) while I worked at Camlann Medieval Village in Carnation, WA. One of my jobs was hearth cooking and cooking for the restaurant. Let me tell you, even with modern conveniences cooking a 2 course/12 dish feast for 40 people is INTENSE. Moving on.
Cook Time: 1 hr (without chicken: ½ hour)
1lb boneless/skinless chicken (and/or 1 can chickpeas)
2 cups chicken broth (you can use vegetable broth if needed)
1 cup white rice
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoons anise seed, crushed
1 teaspoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon whole anise seed
2 quart pot
measuring cup and measuring spoons
knife and cutting board
mortar and pestle or plastic bag and heavy object
serving dish (or you can serve it out of the pot) and spoon
Place chicken in a heavy saucepan. cover chicken completely with broth and simmer 20 minutes. remove chicken and allow to cool.
Drain and rinse canned chickpeas (if using).
Add enough water to broth to make 2 cups. Add rice. bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut chicken into 1/2” cubes.
Add remaining ingredients to rice. Stir and continue to cook on low until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes.
Put blanc mang in serving dish and apply garnish over the top.
While this dish is traditionally made with almonds, I am very allergic to these delicious little protein powerhouses so we left them out entirely. Both the chicken and the chickpeas are great sources of protein, and as it turns out, this dish tastes great even without the almonds.
By the way, chickpeas are also known as garbanzo beans if you're not familiar. If you want to be really genome-specific, garbanzo is a type of chickpea, but in your common grocery stores they're interchangeable. Linguistically “chickpea” came up through Rome's “cicer”, to Medieval France's “pois chiche” which the English turned into “chich-pease” and here we are. “Garbanzo” is not as easy to trace, but essentially it's the Spanish term for the same legume. According to Wikipedia, chickpeas have been a food item for humans since the Mesolithic era.
Preparation was not difficult. Sam (who, hilariously, plays a wizard and poison maker) ground up the anise seed in a mortar and pestle. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, get one – they're fun. In the meantime, toss those seeds into a plastic baggie and go to town with a heavy object. Rolling pin, heavy pan ... a rock ... just use your best judgment so you're not destroying things or hurting yourself. Maybe toss a cloth towel over the baggie as well. Think it through.
Mac simmered the chicken and then diced it when ready. Someone prepared the chickpeas, I don't know who, I was taking pictures and fretting over nonsense. Then everything got tossed into pots and left to cook. When preparing this meal we made two pots, one with chicken and one vegetarian. Often I just make one pot with both chickpeas and chicken together because they are delicious individually OR mixed, but some of our party doesn't eat chicken.
There you have it, a fabulous and filling food that is easy to prepare and fits into so many menus. We actually make this for our Thanksgiving dinner as well as normal meals AND it reheats well in the microwave.
A few notes regarding history:
There are a few different types of rice. When reading Medieval English recipes, it is commonly believed the rice would have been coming from Spain. The Moors brought rice to the area in the 10th century. It was probably short- or medium-grain white rice.
Given that rice is such an important part of this dish, and it would have been imported, plus the fact that this recipe was written down at all, means it was probably a dish for the higher society folks. Common folks would have been sticking with barley and other cereals for quite some time. We'll certainly be including some awesome “everyman” dishes in the blog as well.
You'll notice as we post more recipes and sources that no two recipes are exactly the same. It was not common for cooks to write down recipes, mostly it was passed by doing. What cook books are available were still written in a time with non standard spelling and certainly not in modern English. Point is, much like the game of telephone, recipes were passed by experience and non-written communication. There is a LOT of variety. Also what recipes they found worth writing down were for the upper crust, but we do still have a good idea what every one else ate.
Next week we make: De Li Sparaci (Asparagus With Saffron...only, we don't use Saffron.)
CALAFIA COOKS POTRERO WAR 2007 – SIEGE COOK-OFF-
Medieval Cookery- Daniel Myers
The Bors Hede Boke of Cookry- Food and Cooking 14th and 15th century England (Camlann's Cookbook)