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Inspired by my hour with the Great English Bible of 1541, I checked out the book Tudor Cookery: Recipes and History by Peter Brears from my library.

The front cover is a  detail from William Brooke, 10th Lord Cobham and his Family, 1567 by Master of the Countess of Warwick.  Anyone but me wonder how they convinced children to wear those high, starched collars?

The front cover is a detail from William Brooke, 10th Lord Cobham and his Family, 1567 by Master of the Countess of Warwick. Anyone but me wonder how they convinced children to wear those high, starched collars?

I love this tiny cookbook for its easy recipe translations and its explanations of Tudor-era culinary trends and table manners. I pulled four recipes to try-the first was for Thick Mutton Stew.

The original recipe comes from A noble boke of festas ryalle and Cockery (A Noble Book of Feasts Royal and Cookery) printed approximately in 1500.
It’s for a dish called charmerchande, which was basically lamb stewed with sage and parsley. The recipe reads: Take coostes of motton chopped and putte theym in a fayre potte and sette it upon the fyre with clene water and boyle it welle; and thanne take percely and sage and bete it in a morter with brede and drawe it uppe withe the brothe and put it in the potte with the fresshe flesshe and lette it boyle welle togyder; and salte it and serve it.

Try saying “Fresh flesh” five times fast…. just kidding. This is a really quick dish to make on a weeknight… I had it on the table in 15 minutes! I served it over chunks of homemade bread with roasted sweet potatoes and turnips for a side dish. It was hearty and delicious and serves three people.

Here’s the modern translation.

Ingredients
One pound lean ground mutton
One cup water
Four slices bread, ground into breadcrumbs in the food processor or blender OR 1/2 cup prepared breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon sage

Instructions

Ground Lamb is ready to be turned into a Tudor dinner.

Ground Lamb is ready to be turned into a Tudor dinner.

Brown the mutton in a deep, greased skillet. Drain, and add the water, bread crumbs, and spices.

With bread and spices, just thickening up.

With bread and spices, just thickening up.

Stir until the bread crumbs have absorbed most of the juices and the mixture is piping hot. Then take it off the stove and serve!

Thick mutton stew for a hearty dinner!

Thick mutton stew for a hearty dinner!

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