I put this recipe together by googling medieval foods/recipes, and combining what I found with some ideas I got for the book. On several occasions, Cromwell would receive gives of fowl (pheasant, capon) from patrons wishing to gain his favor. In the book, Cromwell is actually a real foodie, he spent several years in Italy in his youth and the delicious food made an impression on him. He often notes how much better the food is in his house than in other great houses in England. Further, he understands the power of good food to impress and to persuade. My research on medieval food revealed that fruit and spices were often used with proteins - the high spicing used to preserve meats without refrigeration. So I decided to stuff a cornish game hen with a highly spiced fruit stuffing. I noticed a reference to walnuts in the book and added those to the stuffing for some crunch. Finally, towards the end of the book Cromwell serves spiced wine to a guest during a trying time. I decided to make a spiced wine reduction to glaze the hens with. The dish turned out great, yum!
Ingredients (serves 2)
2 Cornish game hens, cleaned and patted dry.
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1 quince, peeled and chopped
1 pear, peeled and chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups red wine
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
2 black peppercorns
(there was no science to the spice mix, I would maybe add more next time for a stronger flavor)
1 tablespoon butter
Directions: Preheat oven to 400. To make glaze, combine spices in wine in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil and let boil for about 30 minutes, until the red wine is significantly reduced, to about half a cup. Swirl in butter and let met. Then pour through a sieve and remove whole spices. Set aside.
To make hens, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in saute pan, add shallots and cook over medium heat for 2 or 3 minutes. Add apples, pears and quinces and toss to coat with butter and shallots. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes. Then add spices and walnuts and toss to coat fruit. Continue to cook for 3 or 4 minutes more. The fruit should still be firm.
After about 20 minutes, take out hens and use pastry brush to completely glaze the hens. Put back in the oven for another 20 minutes. Take out and glaze again. Cook for another 15 minutes, glaze again. Cook for 10 - 15 minutes more, until the little hen legs wiggle easily. Ta da!