I had half a bottle of pig’s blood (as one does.. ;P) and was pondering what to use it for, when I came across something intriguing – a recipe for a blood thickened sauce with an olde medieval twist. As it so happens, I’m quite enthusiastic about medieval reenactment, and this was the perfect opportunity to put that experience to use.. Who’d have thought stirring gruel and lard in heavy cauldrons (when not stabbing Saxons with a pike) would become practical application? I’ll be cheeky here and call this bloody concoction “Regis’ Special“. (;
An immersion circulator (sous vide) isn’t necessary to prepare this sauce, as the blood isn’t technically raw in the final product. If you’re squeamish, however, feel free to take the added steps for peace of mind. It’s important to note that blood is a finicky substance – going above 140 °F / 60 °C increases the odds of solidification, which is certainly not wanted in a sauce. Beyond that, the blood sauce is fairly easy to make and keeps well frozen in small, ready to use portions.
Braised guinea fowl with blood sauce
- 120 ml (1/2 c) red wine
- 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp lard (or alternatively, butter)
- fresh thyme, to taste
- 250 ml (1 c) chicken stock
- 150 (1/2 c) ml blood
- 3 Tbsp white vinegar, mixed with 1 Tbsp lemon juice (or verjuice if you have it)
- salt and pepper
- Sweet spice blend (see below)
Sweet spices blend:
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp green cardamom and black pepper mixed (as a substitute for the rarer grains of paradise)
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
*Spices should be grated or ground.
- Mix the blood with the vinegar/lemon. Set aside.
- In a pan over medium heat, melt the lard, then sweat the garlic and shallot for about 5 minutes.
- Add the wine and let the shallots caramelize, about 2 minutes, before adding the stock.
- Add the spices and simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes.
- At this point, you can blend the sauce to get a smoother result.
- Put the sauce back into the pan, add the blood and vinegar mixture, and cook over low heat for about 3 minutes. The sauce will thicken at this point as the blood denatures. Be sure to stir constantly to prevent lumps.
- Taste and adjust seasoning.
Notes and Tips:
In medieval cooking, stale bread (rye, spelt…) is often used to thicken broths and sauces. If you feel that your sauce is too thin, try throwing a bit of leftover bread for extra flavour and body. Be sure to grind it to fine crumbs or add before blending for ease of use.
Verjus is an important ingredient in medieval sauces. As it is quite difficult to find nowadays, a mixture of white vinegar and lemon juice can be used instead. It brings a characteristic tang and sourness to the dish.
An example of the “sweet spice” blend from the Libro per cuoco from the 14th/15th c. and another from the famous Le Menagier de Paris (1393).