Sauce Madame. A Medieval Recipe Fit for a Modern Queen.
One of the recipes I modernized for my cookbook, A Thyme and Place; Medieval Feasts and Recipes for the Modern Table, was the 600-year-old dish called Sauce Madame. The recipe comes from the one of the oldest known cookbook (well... it wasn't really a book, more like scroll) from England, compiled from around 1390. The Master Cooks for Richard II would have their scribes document these recipes on a scroll, now known as the Forme of Cury. The name, Forme of Cury, has nothing to do with the spice. Cury in was the old English way of spelling Quererie – the business of a Queux or Cooking. Richard II was an extravagant man; therefore, why wouldn't his feasts be legendary? It was said that at a feast in 1387, Richard and the dinners devoured 14 salted oxen, 84lbs of salted venison, 12 boars, 120 sheep heads, 400 rabbits, 50 swans, 150 castrated roosters (oh dear), 1,200 pigeons, 210 geese, 11,000 eggs, 12 gallons of cream.
Sawse Madame. Take sawge. persel. ysope. and saueray. quinces. and peeres, garlek and Grapes. and fylle the gees þerwith. and sowe the hole þat no grece come out. and roost hem wel. and kepe the grece þat fallith þerof. take galytyne and grece and do in a possynet, whan the gees buth rosted ynowh; take an smyte hem on pecys. and þat tat is withinne and do it in a possynet and put þerinne wyne if it be to thyk. do þerto powdour of galyngale. powdour douce and salt and boyle the sawse and dresse þe Gees in disshes and lay þe sowe onoward. - A Forme of Cury.
The original recipe from 1390 called for a goose and used the fruit as a stuffing, which would be made into a sauce after the goose was cooked. I made a delicious version using chicken thighs. The sauce is rich, yet balanced and compliments the chicken very well. Grab a huge hunk of bread and have it ready to dip into the left over sauce. Perfect for the Queen.