Soldier’s Pottage

This is a recipe that I’ve worked up, primarily through reenacting. A few Thanksgivings ago, it occurred to the folks at Jamestown Settlement that I cook. I’deaten enough pottages to have an idea what they were supposed to taste like. So, when asked to cook a soldier’s meal in the Court de Garde, I did.This is not an authentic 17th Century recipe, in the sense of having been redacted from a primary source. Rather, it uses 17th ingredients, and techniques.

2lb Flesh. Pork sausage or salt pork is frequently used at Jamestown, because pigs were a major protein source (when the Indians hadn’t slaughtered them, that is).  Beef, Poultry, Lamb, or Game will work as well.

2-3 lb Vegetables, cut up into bitesize cubes. Can include Turnips, Parsnips, Carrots, Cabbage, Squash, Beans, Peas, and so forth. Mushrooms add interesting flavor.

A cup or two of chopped-up Greens, such as Kale, Collard, Spinach, Mustard, etc.

At least one Onion, more to taste.

Garlic, to taste.

Salt, to taste.

Any or all of: Black Pepper, Chili Peppers, Cloves, Nutmeg, or other Spices

Any or all of: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, Tarragon, Basil, Oregano, Savory, Borage, or what-have-you.

Chop the onion(s) and mince the garlic.

If you have peas or beans, soak them overnight, changing water a time or two.

In a pot over a brisk fire, brown the meat. Do not drain off the fat. If you have peas or beans, add those and stir-fry a bit.

Add the Onion, Garlic, Herbs, Salt, Spices, and cut-up Veggies. Add water to cover, and bring to a boil.

Move the pot to a simmer, cover, and stew for at least an hour, more is better. If the water level drops a lot, add more to cover. About ½ to 1 hour before serving, add the Greens.

Shortly before serving, taste, and adjust the spicing. Serves a unit of hungry reenactors. Goes well with beer or cider, and bread.

If you want to thicken the stew, a roux of flour and broth can be made. Another way is to pull off a half-cup to a cup or so of done turnips, and mash them with some broth. Then, stir them back in.

In a modern kitchen, this can be done in a crockpot. Be sure to brown the meat, and possibly also the onions and garlic, in a skillet or wok before putting into the crockpot.