Move Over Baaaam....Medieval Spice Blend for the Modern Day Cook

Monday, April 4, 2011

The modern day convenience of spice blends cannot be denied. Paule Prudhomme and even Emeril have jumped on the Spice Blend Bandwagon, raking in millions off of their conceived blends of perfectly proportioned dried spices. We use spice blends for BBQ, to flavor stocks and soups, and I love using Tony Chachere's Creole blend in my New Orleans dishes.

What I found surprising was this notion of spice blends is not a modern day invention whatsoever. In fact, the spice blend as a concept and functioning cooking tool dates back...way back...and all over the world. Case in point: the medieval spice blend.

If you've been to Medieval Times you probably remember that roasted chicken you ate with your hands, and those potato wedges. They're slightly sweet, aromatic, savory, and delicious at the same time. Here is the recipe for the simple spice blend the medieval Europeans would use, from England to Romania, and everywhere in between. The use of ginger was huge in medieval cooking. Not only did it add major aromatics to the dishes prepared with it, but it offered the spicy and slightly sweet balance that makes food to delicious. For warmth, a combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and/or mace were often included, usually not all together. And grains of paradise were utilized as a daily ingredient. Harder to find now, you can use their cousin the simple black peppercorn in place.

Often fresh herbs were also added (and in their dried forms), but the above-mentioned spices were certainly the main deal. Salt was an expensive commodity then, so it's rare you'll find recipes including salt in the seasonings. But feel free to add some to taste when making your medieval-inspired meals today. This spice blend goes beautifully with chicken, poultry meats (incredible with cornish hens), game meats (especially venison), fish (although go lighter with the touch then) and even vegetables.

I love looking back to the ancestors to see how they did things, especially how they cooked. If you're tired of the same spice blends, the same salt-pepper-thyme chicken dinners, try roasting a chicken this week using this spice blend instead. You'll be surprised how incredible your house will smell and how tasty it'll be.

Medieval Spice Blend aka Powder Fine
6 Tbsp ground ginger
4 Tbsp granulated white sugar
3 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp whole cloves
2 tsp whole black pepper corns

Place all spices in a grinder and pulse until finely ground into a powder. Keep in an air-tight container (preferably made of glass) for up to a month.

Use on chicken, foul, game, fish, soups, stews, or vegetables. Add salt to taste.

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