Friday, August 16, 2013

Medieval Recipe Day: Let's Make a Posset!

What is a posset, you ask? Well, these days it's a syllabub. (Wait, what's a syllabub? Shut up, you.)

But BACK IN THE DAY (which, for the purposes of this blog, is any time after the year 900 CE but before the invention of playing cards with feelthy peectures on 'em) a posset was your basic cold and flu remedy, the medieval British version of chicken soup, except a little more disgusting - they are hot milk drinks, curdled with beer, ale or wine (especially sweet wines). Other ingredients would include toast, sugar, nutmeg, and "spice." Lady Macbeth poisoned people's possets; but typically, peasant parents prepped possets for little peons at play. By the Elizabethan era, there were even specially made posset pots. So, want to get your posset on? Here are a couple of recipes yanked at random from the aether:

To make a Posset
Take a Quart of White-wine and a quart of Water, boil whole Spice in them, then take twelve Eggs and put away half the Whites, beat them very well, and take the Wine from the fire, then put in your Eggs and stir them very well, then set it on a slow fire, and stir it till it be thick, sweeten it with Sugar, and strew beaten Spice thereon, then serve it in
You may put in Ambergreece if you like it, or one perfumed Lozenge

To make a Sack Posset
Take two quarts of Cream and boil it with Whole Spice, then take twelve Eggs well beaten and drained, take the Cream from the fire, and stir in the Eggs, and as much Sugar as will sweeten it, then put in so much Sack as will make it taste well, and set it on the fire again, and let it stand a while, then take a Ladle and raise it up gently from the bottom of the Skillet you make it in, and break it as little as you can, and so do till you see it be thick enough; then put it into a Bason with the Ladle gently; if you do it too much it will whey, and that is not good

Old-Fashioned Posset
4 cups milk
4 tablespoons sugar
4 slices toast
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 cups of beer (preferably ale)

Heat the milk, sugar, and toast in a saucepan, but don't let it boil. Stir the cinnamon and beer together in a punch bowl.

Discard the toast. Pour the hot milk over the ale and stir. Drink from mugs while warm. Serves 8-10.

©"Beer and Good Food," by Myra Waldo, 1958.

The astute reader will notice the option of including ambergris in the recipe, and gag a little bit. Also, if anyone knows the difference between a "posset" and a "sack posset," let me know.

1 comment:

  1. I think the difference between 'posset' and 'sack posset' is from the use of wine in posset and sack in the sack posset. Sack is fortified wine (like sherry or Madeira) and so stronger (and sweeter) than just wine. Also wines have got stronger over the years (centuries) as more robust yeast strains have been developed (as well as wine making techniques) and so the difference in potency between wine and sack would be much more noticeable then.