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Parma tarts

This is an excerpt from Du fait de cuisine
(France, 1420 - Elizabeth Cook, trans.)
The original source can be found at David Friedman's website

21. Again, parma tarts: for the said parma tarts which are ordered to be made, to give you understanding, take three or four large pigs and, if the feast should be larger than I think, let one take more, and from these pigs remove the heads and the hams, and put the fat apart to be melted; and take the said pigs and cut them into fair slices or pieces and wash them very well and put them to cook in fair and clean cauldrons, and put in salt in measure. And for the said parma tarts you will need three hundred pigeons, two hundred very young chickens - and if it happens that the feast is given at a time when there are no very young chickens, have one hundred young capons - six hundred small birds; and these pigeons, poultry, and small birds should be plucked and cleaned properly and cleanly; and take the pigeons and split them in half, and also split the poultry and cut it in quarters; and then take the pigeons, poultry, and small birds and put into fair small casks, wash properly and cleanly three or four times in fair and clean water, and then put them to boil in fair and clean cauldrons, and put in salt in measure; and check that it does not cook too much; and, being cooked subtly, draw out your meat into fair and clean cornues and put your small birds in one place and the other meat in another. And then take your pork fat and cut a great deal of it and put into fair and clean pans and melt well and, being well melted, strain it into other fair and clean pans; and then take your small birds and sauté them in your lard lightly and not too much, and also next the other meat. And of figs six pounds and six pounds of dates, of pine nuts six pounds, of prunes six pounds, of raisins eight pounds; and then take your figs, prunes, and dates and cut them fine - as small as the smallest raisins - and remove the stems from the raisins and clean them well. And then take your pine nuts and rub them very well, then winnow them on fair platters; then put them on a fair cloth and pick them over and clean them well and properly so that there remains nothing but the white nutmeat. And then put your figs, prunes, raisins, dates, and pine nuts into a fair, white and clean cornue, and let it be well covered with a fair, white and clean cloth so that nothing which is not clean falls therein. And then arrange that you have herbs, that is sage, parsley, hyssop and marjoram, of which have such a large amount of parsely that you have a great bowlfull drained and with the leaves stripped off the stems, and sage, hyssop, and marjoram added in measure; then put them in a fair and clean cornue, and wash them well and properly in three or four changes of fresh water, and then put them on fair and clean boards and chop them very small. And check to see if your pork is cooked and put it on fair tables, and you should have your fair, large and very flat boards; and you who are making this fair parma tart, together with the assistants which you have assigned to it, take care to remove the skin of the said pigs and let no bones remain, and chop your meat very small; and in chopping your said meat take herbs and put them in with your meat; and then have a large, fair, clean and clear basin [bacine] and put your said meat therein - and to give understanding of what the basin is, I mean that this should be a fair and large pan of those in which one cooks big and large fish. And then arrange that you have a quintal of best Crampone or Brie cheese or the best cheese which can be found, and then take the said cheese and pare and clean it well and properly, and cut it small, then bray it in a mortar very well and strongly; then take six hundred eggs and moisten your cheese therewith in braying, and continually sprinkle with the said eggs so that they are well bound and moistened and according to the quantity of the parma tarts which you are ordered to make. And take the pan which I described to you above, and put therein lard which is refined in which one has sautéd the meat, and put it in according to the quantity of the stuff which you have, and let it be put over a fair clear fire; and have two good strong assistants stirring the filling strongly and firmly with a great slotted spoon with two hands, and then let it down over a fair fire of clear coals; and let your figs, prunes, dates, raisins, pine nuts, cut as is said above, be washed two or three times in fair, clean and clear water and then afterward washed in good white wine and then put to drain and dry on fair and clean boards; and then, being drained, throw it into your filling, and let it be very well stirred in; and then take your cheese which has been brayed and moistened with egg as is said above - the quantity which you have made for the said filling - and put into your filling while braying well and strongly; and take the said pan off the fire. And take your spices, white ginger, fine powder, grains of paradise, saffron to give color, and put in cloves in measure, put them therein and stir continually; and have a great deal of sugar beaten into powder and throw in a great deal according to the quantity of the filling, and stir continually. And arrange that you have fair and clean pans, or if you find fair and clean ceramic dishes take as many as you need to make your parma tarts in such great quantity that you will have some left over; and then when you have your fair and clean pans or ceramic dishes arrange that you have two or three thousand sugared wafers, and then take your pans or your ceramic dishes and take some of the lard in which you fried your small birds and poultry and put into your pans or ceramic dishes and then take your wafers and put in each dish on the bottom and around it a layer of the said wafers so that there are four or five one on another; and on the said wafers take of the said filling and make a layer, and then on top of the filling put the small birds here and there and not together; and put between two small birds a quarter of a pigeon and elsewhere a quarter chicken between two small birds, and do this in such manner that of small birds, quarter pigeons and quarter chickens there is made well and adroitly a layer set on top of the layer of the filling; and on top of this layer made of small birds, quarter pigeons, and quarter chickens is made another layer of the said filling, and on top of this layer made of filling put wafers in the fashion and manner which is said above as they were put on the bottom of the said pan or ceramic dish; and, this being done, they should be covered well and properly with the said wafers. Then take cold lard and put on top, and then put your tarts in the oven which has been well heated; and you will be well advised when they cook to have leaves of spinach and white chard well cleaned and washed so that, if the said wafers burn at all, you can put them on top. And then draw out your parma tarts and scrape them well and properly so that there remains nothing burned, and then put them on fair serving dishes; and, with them on the serving dishes, take your gold leaf and put it on your parma tarts in the manner of a chessboard, and powdered sugar on top. And when one serves it, let on each tart be put a little banner with the arms of each lord who is served these parma tarts.


Other versions of this recipe:

Parma tarts (Le Viandier de Taillevent)

Parma Tarts of Fish (Du fait de cuisine)

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