Friday, 24 May 2013

Nettles yseethed

I spent last Saturday helping cook our annual medieval banquet, and decided to entertain myself by having a go at a stinging-nettle dish, something I'd never attempted before. After all, I figured, it's hard enough to get people to eat veggies at a feast - why not go the whole hog and serve something they're actually frightened to try?

Here's the recipe I made up. It is heavy on the calories and fat, and believe it or not it's delicious!
Funges and Nettles yseethed in Cream, upon Sops:
  • Sufficient fancy-ass crusty white bread (french loaf or pain du campagne or bruschetta bread) for a slice each per diner.
  • Butter
  • Single or double cream. Delia Smith says soured cream will curdle if boiled, so use fresh cream.
  • Mushrooms - chestnut or exotic woodland varieties, or little field mushrooms, or a mix as preferred.
  • Salt and pepper.
  • Stinging-nettle tops - a plastic shopping bagful will feed about 20 people.
  • Dry white wine - about a cupful. 
  1. First, pick your stinging nettles. You want to wear heavy gardening gloves for this bit, and thick trousers and long sleeves. You want the only top whorls of young, fresh growth - not the older leaves. And try to find tall ones that dogs won't have peed on.
  2. Switch to rubber gloves and wash the leaves thoroughly. Pick out all the more fibrous stems.
  3. Toast the slices of bread on each side until golden. Keep warm. In medieval meals, "sops" (stale bread used to soak up juices) were a staple.
  4. Wash and dice the mushrooms. Set aside.
  5. Slice the leek finely and fry gently in lots of butter until soft.
  6. Add wine to the leek.
  7. Add nettles to the leek. They will collapse down as they cook, just as fresh spinach does:  a huge panful will reduce in a couple of minutes. And they will stop being painful to touch at this point!
  8. In a separate frying pan, start frying the mushrooms in yet more butter, gently.
  9. Salt and pepper the greens. Add cream and bring to a simmer, for about 3 minutes.
  10. Before anything is reduced to mush, plate up a slice of bread each, topped with butter-fried mushrooms, topped by a slop of creamy nettles. Serve it forth. Yum.
    Here's some more pics of the banquet food, btw:
Roasted cockatrice.

The "subtlety" or "conceit" - a display piece in which the food is made to look like something it is not. In this case, sugar and marzipan made to look like a snow-scene. Sadly, I cannot take credit for this gorgeous artistic creation!


Chris said...

Was delicious! My party trick when I was ten was to eat a stinging nettle (raw). They taste better with lashings of double cream and mushrooms.

Jo said...

Oh, my comment disappeared. Well, it sounds great - cream leeks and mushrooms are win on their own, but nettles are so healthy! Lovely picute too :)

Janine Ashbless said...

Everything tastes better with lashings of cream, Chris :-)