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A Pudding in a Cowcumber

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This recipe was an excercise in substitutions, and as such there is always the risk that the re-creation will stray far enough from the original that it is no longer really the same recipe. Still, the form and flavor of the final dish was very much what I've come to expect from recipes of this time period, so I don't feel this interpretation is unreasonable.

The biggest substitution I made was for the cucumber. Most people avoid growing cucumbers the size of babies, preferring instead to pick them when they're small, so there was no way I was going to find one big enough. Fortunately a co-worker was giving away zucchini and had one that was at least 16 inches long and 5 inches in diameter. I weighed the relative merits of using it against going with multiple smaller cucumbers and decided that the difference in flavor between the two vegetables was not likely to significantly affect the taste of the filling. If I can get a cucumber of the proper size then I'll try the recipe out again to see.

The other two major substitutions I made were in using pork instead of liver, and raisins instead of grapes. The first was in defference to my wife who doesn't care for liver, and the second was because of what I had on hand. Both of these will affect the flavor of the final dish significantly, but I feel they are easily the sort of changes a cook from the 16th century would make for the same reasons.


1 very large cucumber (or zucchini)
1 lb. cooked pork, finely chopped
1 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup raisins
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/8 tsp. mace
3 egg yolks
2 cups broth
4 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup vinegar


Cut the cucumber (or zucchini) in half lengthwise and scoop out the insides. I found an ice-cream scoop works incredibly well for this. In a large bowl, mix the pork, bread crumbs, raisins, butter, spices, and egg yolks until all the ingredients are uniformly wet and the mixture can be shaped. Fill in the hollowed out portion of the cucumber with the mixture, close it up, and pin the halves together with toothpicks. Place in a covered baking dish with the remaining ingredients and bake at 350°F until the stuffing reaches 160°F - about 1 hour.

Source [A Book of Cookrye, M. Waks, J. Waks (eds.)]: A Pudding in a Cowcumber. Take your Cowcumber and cut out all the meat that is within it, then take a Liver of a Lamb or Pigge, and Grapes or Gooceberies, and grated bread, pepper, salt, Cloves and mace, and a little suet, and the yolkes of three Egs, and mingle altogither and put in the Cowcumber, and let your broth boile or ever you put it in: the broth must be made of Mutton broth, Vinagre, and Butter, strained bread, and Salt, and so serve it out.

Published: July 18, 2016

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