Musings of a Lady

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Margaretta Achworth's Pan Roasted Chicken

I have been using my vacation to play around with creative endeavors that include cooking.  I have Margaretta Achworth's Georgian Cookery Book, edited by Alice and Frank Prochaska.  Great book!  The Prochaska's discovered the recipes that Mrs. Achworth collected and used in her house hold in the mid to late 18th century.  I have tried a recipe called Pot Roasted Chicken or Guinea Fowl.  I used a Cornish Game hen - small bird to try the recipe.

The recipe called for using the following spices, salt, pepper, sage, mace, nutmeg, and cloves.  Bay leaf, garlic cloves, lemon rind and bacon is also used to flavor the meat.  The spices were rubbed under the skin as well as over the top of the skin.  The cloves of garlic were suppose to be wrapped with bay leaf and sage leaves.  I didn't have sage leaves so used powdered sage as part of the rub. The bay leaf I inserted in a slit in the clove of garlic.  The garlic went into the  cavity of the hen.

I didn't have mace and my cloves were whole.  So, I crushed the cloves in a mortar with peppercorns and the other spices. I cut into strips bacon and lemon rind and stuffed that under the skin.

The fragrance of browning the hen in the butter (1/4 cup) was so fabulous.

After browning the hen, I then added the wine which was something I had in the refrigerator.  I used a fruity, white wine - about a cup and half.

Turning the hen till brown on all sides, the steam was fragrant with the different spices - whoa, it was pretty mouth watering - I had to put oven/stove top casserole into the oven at 350 F covered ( the recipe called for 300F) - I took the chance of speeding up the cooking.  So, in about an hour the hen was ready.

The recipe called for 1.5 hours but that was for a larger hen.  Anyway, the meat was tender and moist and totally fragrant.  The cooking liquid in the pan could be skimmed of its fat and used to make a gravy - I didn't do it tonight. 

In anycase, I have used this book before for period recipes for events.  The editors essentially took a woman's work and picked out recipes that they were able to make using modern methods and using as 'period' ingredients as possible.  This is a definite book to add to your library if you are into period cooking.  It is English but I have seen Colonial and French recipes similar to this so it can be used as a basic recipe. 

Here is the information about the book (I don't know if it it still in print): Copyright 1987.  Printed in Britain.  ISBN 185145 124 2 hardback, ISBN 1 85145 227 2 Paperback. The publisher was Pavilion Books Limited.  I think I got this when I was in England or Colonial Williamsburg ages ago - alas I can't remember.

Oh, I also tried another recipe prior to this:  Lemon Brandy and it turned out really good!  Same book. 

So simple, too!  Lemon rind with as much pith removed soaked in brandy for 2 days.  You make a syrup of water and sugar and add it to the brandy and lemon rind.  Let it sit for 2 days or so.  Then decant in a sterilized bottle.  Supposedly you can heat it and add it to a 'punch'.  This is a nice aperitifs or post-dinner digestive.  Bon appetite!


Rowenna said...

Sounds delicious! I love roast chicken, but I had never thought of doing a pan browning and then transferring to the oven. Will have to try that sometime! I have Martha Washington's cookbook somewhere...though some of the recipes are not things I'd like to try :)

Angela said...

I also have the Martha Washington's cookbook. Cows lips is not something I would want to cook or eat, either - even if you could get them. Yikes. Margarette Acworth's book is still available on Amazon. Two friends read this and ordered the book. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

I've found your blog thanks to sewphisticate at Livejournal. I rarely get excited about cooking, but this sounded so delicious that I found a copy of the book online and can't wait for it to fly from the UK to me in Australia. mmmmh