#323 Salmi of Game (or Duck, or Fish)

A salmi, also known as salmis, salomine and salomene is essentially a posh game stew and is an abbreviation of salmagundi which started life in France as a meat ragoût. A salmi, rather than being any meat, should be made using game birds that are partly-cooked, and then finished off in a rich sauce made from their bones, though domesticated birds like capon and Guinea fowl are commonly used. Jane Grigson complains that more often than not, salmi is made from leftover game meat and then offered at high prices in high-end restaurants. ‘Don’t be deceived’, she says, ‘[i]t is exactly what would have been eaten by Chaucer, or his son, at the court of Henry IV, or by that granddaughter of his, Alice, Duchess of Suffolk, at her manor at Ewelme.’ Grigson mentions the food eaten at the court of Henry IV a few times in English Food: giving recipes for quince comfits and ‘a coronation doucet’.

The dish originally came from medieval France and game wasn’t necessary, as this recipe shows that Grigson found dating from 1430 that uses fish:
Take good wine, and good powder, and bread crumpled, and sugar and boil it together; then take trout, roach, perch, or carp, or all these together, and make them clean, and after roast them on a griddle; then hew them in gobbets [chunks]; when they be cooked, dry them in oil a little, then cast them in the bruet [the sauce] and when you dress it, take mace, cloves, cubebs, gilliflowers; and cast them on top, and serve forth.

Cubebs are a type of pepper (latin name: Piper cubeba) that you can still buy from specialists, gilliflowers are a very fragrant species of carnation and ‘powder’ refers to a mixture of ground spices.

I have been eager to cook a couple of game recipes whilst I am over in England for Christmas, and seeing as I was in London, I thought I would visit the very excellent butcher Allen’s of Mayfair – an amazing place that consists of a central circular butcher’s block surrounded by the meat hanging up around it. I felt as though I had walked into a scene from a Dickens novel. I bought a couple of mallards and used those for the salmi.

Roast your game birds rare, cut the meat from the carcass into neat ‘gobbets’.

Use the carcasses to make ¾ pint of game stock. Melt 2 ounces of butter in a pan and cook 3 chopped shallots until soft and golden. Now stir in a heaped tablespoon of flour and whisk in the hot stock a third at a time to prevent lumps forming.

Add a bouquet garni and a pared strip of orange peel (Seville oranges would be great if you can get them) and simmer for 20 minutes, to make a thick sauce. Pass the sauce through a sieve and add ¼ pint of red or white wine and 4 ounces of mushrooms that have been fried in butter. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Simmer for a further 5 minutes, then add the game and simmer very gently again for 10 more minutes. Add a little cayenne pepper. Serve with orange wedges and croûtons fried in butter.

#323 Salmi of Game (or Duck, or Fish). I must admit that I was a little worried about eating mallard – the last time I cooked them it was pretty grim (see here). I needn’t have worried though, it seems that the previous mallards had been overhung because this salmi of mallard was delicious. The meat was beautifully tender and surprisingly mild in its gaminess considering how dark the flesh was. The sauce too was wonderfully rich and silky. Plus the inclusion of orange wedges for squeezing was inspired. Tres bon! 9/10.


Well, I am back from the French field trip and full of meat, meat, meat! That is mainly what I’ve been eating for the last two weeks; well, that and bread, bread, bread!! I have been craving vegan food a bit, which does not sit well with English Food.

I’ve just about come round from the trip though and am ready to cook some nice summery dishes. The problem is that this month is very busy indeed and I doubt I’m going to have time to cook much. I seem to remember having a similar problem this time last year. I will simply have to freeze everything and eat my summer pudding in January or something.

One thing I did notice whilst on a wee walk around Chorlton Meadows with Butters was the amount of freebie food – blackberries, raspberries, apples, pears, elderberries and sloes all spotted in a single trip! So later on in the summer we should have lots of nice stuff (whether there are recipes in the book or not, I shall report on them – too good an opportunity to miss).

Au Revior!

See you later chaps and chapesses – I’m off to France for 2 weeks today on a field trip to St Auban, just a wee bit north of Nice in the South of France. I’ve told you about the place before. I’ve added a couple of notices to appear whilst I’m away (isn’t technology a wonderful thing), but that’s it for recipes until the 4th of July when I return. Whilst I’m away make something exciting, and tell me about it for when I get back.

Have fun in the sun!

Laters! x

Manchester, so much to answer for

Sorry for not adding an entry for a while…

I got back from the beautiful St Auban last Saturday evening and haven’t quite got back into my routine, which means I haven’t done any cooking – at least not proper cooking – since I got back. I’ve done lots of stir-fries and eaten several pizzas. This is not good. I reckon I’ve put on at least half a stone (I dare not weigh myself). This is, in part, due to the field trip. I managed to do no exercise, eat two three-course meals a day and drink every night. The food was all home-cooked and very nice indeed.

St Auban is about 30 miles north of Nice and resides in the Alps; it was once a ski resort in the winter, but due to climate change this no longer happens, although there is evidence of it’s past in the rusting ski-lifts that run up the mountainside. The place is beautiful, there is the most amazing geology – layers of buckled meandering limestone, caverns, canyons and crevices. There is wonderful wildlife – after all that’s why we were there – wild boar, red deer, chamois, red squirrels, golden eagles, crested tits, Bonelli’s warblers and my favourite bird, the nightjar. Many of these animals can be seen in Britain, of course, but you have to go to Reserves or the Scottish Highlands to see them. The other great thing about the mountain habitats is the smell – walking through the wandering, purple thyme creates a floral mist around you, plus there are lavender plants and juniper berries to crush between your fingers. Ahh…

…and then there’s Manchester. Since returning, there’s been nothing but rain and thunder storms. The temperatures have been similar to what we had in January, for God’s sake. I should be excited as all my favourite foods are in season now, but I feel like it’s all passing me by.

It’s my birthday on Thursday, so I think I’ll get back into the swing of things by treating myself by making some kind of pudding containing all those lovely summer ingredients I’ve been thinking of – raspberries, gooseberries, cherries and the like. Hopefully they’ll give me some pep…

Bon Voyage!

Well, I’m going to sign off now for a couple of weeks; off to France on a field course with the University of Manchester. It means, of course, that there’ll be no Grigsons either. Hopefully when I return as a bronzed Adonis, I will make up for lost time. I have made nice things, but I’ve been so busy getting ready for the trip, I’ve not had the time to tell you about them properly…

What YOU should do whilst I’m away as a small project please, is to cook a meal or eat a type of food that you have never sampled before. You may be pleasantly surprised or, indeed, repulsed.

Laters! x