Monday, September 16, 2013

Jance Sauce - du Fait de Cuisine and Le Menagier de Paris

Du Fait de Cuisine: 

2. A jance: and to give understanding to him who will make the said jance let him take a great quantity of fair and good fine white bread according to what he wants to make and make it into crumbs well and properly on a fair cloth; then let him take a fair, clear, and clean pot and pour in fat broth of beef and mutton, and let him check that it is not too salty; and then let him take eggs and mix them with the said bread and then put this gently into the said broth while stirring constantly with a fair wooden spoon; and also let him put in his spices, that is white ginger, grains of paradise, and a little pepper, and saffron to give it color, and let him flavor it with verjuice; and let him put all this to boil together and then dress it for serving.

As with all such recipes, as many questions were raised as answered as we attempted to cook this sauce.  The "we" in this case is myself, my squire and his wise and lovely wife.

We ended up creating four different sauces from this recipe, one of which ended up being vegetarian as we used a vegetarian "beef" stockcube for stock (as my squire is vegetarian).

Right at the beginning, a number of basic questions/choices needed to be dealt with.  These included:

- how white was white bread?
- how runny is this sauce meant to be?
- how big were eggs?
- were the breadcrumbs toasted?
- would the bread be fresh or stale?
- how fine would the breadcrumbs be?  Does it make a difference?
- do you use the crusts?
- how much spice to use?
- fresh or dried ginger

Some of these questions were answered by the cooking experience itself, and others by research and experience.

I had both modern white white bread, and also a light wholemeal bread, which is probably a pretty close equivalent to decent quality medieval white bread - having ground flour with grinding stones myself, I know that you can actually get very fine flour by medieval means.

Ginger in period was grown in Europe in pots in period, so it was entirely possible that the ginger could have been fresh or dried.  In this case we used dried ground ginger. 

Here are the four recipes, with some comments after testing, some of which surprised us.

Sauce Jance 1 (dubbed "white Jance")

350ml stock (2/3 beef 1/3 mutton)
1/3 cup toasted white breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp grains of paradise
1 tsp white ginger
1-2 pinches pepper
10 strands of saffron
1 tablspoon verjuice
1 egg

Sauce Jance 2 (dubbed "wholebread Jance")

350ml stock (2/3 beef 1/3 mutton)
2/3 cup (150g) fresh light wholemeal breadcrumbs
 1/4 tsp grains of paradise
1 tsp white ginger
2 pinches pepper
10 strands of saffron
1 tablespooon verjuice
1 egg

This was spicier with a distinct taste of grains of paradise.

Sauce Jance 3 (dubbed "Vege Jance")

250ml water
1 vegetarian beef stockcube
1/3 cup fresh white breadcrumbs (no crusts)
1 pinch grains of paradise
1 tsp ground ginger
2 pinches ground pepper
10 strands of saffron
1 1/2 tablespoons verjuice
1 egg

This sauce was very balanced, with nothing really standing out

Sauce Jance 4 (dubbed "Strong Jance")

250ml strong stock (1/2 mutton 1/2 beef)
1 cup toasted wholemeal breadcrumbs
125mg/pinch grains of paradise
125mg/pinch white ginger
50mg/1/2 pinch black pepper
12 strands ground saffron
1 tablespoon verjuice
1 egg

We judged that we could happily eat it just as soup! This was particularly delicious served on pork.

General conclusions

  • Whether we used white or wholemeal bread made no real difference to the final sauce. 
  • These would be even better if pushed through a sieve or given some other form of further blending.
  • Grains of paradise are "more like a taste you can smell"
  • My squire said he would add more grains of paradise to the vegetarian version
  • My squire's wife said she would add more ginger to all of them. 

Take the time to play with this recipe and see what you think!

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