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I've used both lamb and eel instead of veal in this recipe and it works out quite well. Since the meat is cut in small pieces and is baked in the tarts, it does not need to be boiled for any great length of time. This recipe makes 4 one-cup tarts or one 9-inch pie.


1/2 cup veal (approximate)
1 cup water
1/2 cup red wine
1 tsp. parsley
1/4 tsp. sage
1/4 tsp. hyssop
1/4 tsp. savory
1/8 tsp. pepper

1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cloves
1/8 tsp. mace
pinch saffron
1/4 tsp. salt

6 dates, pitted and chopped
6 prunes, chopped
1/4 tsp. ginger
dash verjuice (or lemon juice)

4 tart shells
4 eggs


Cut veal into thin, bite-sized pieces and place in a pan along with water, wine, parsley, sage, hyssop, savory, and pepper (about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. each). Bring to a boil. Then add cinnamon, cloves, mace, saffron, and salt (about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. each) and return to boil. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, mix the dates, prunes, ginger, and verjice (or lemon juice) together and allow to marinate. Remove the meat from the broth, place into the unbaked tart crusts and bake at 350°F for about 15 minutes. Add the date/prune mixture to the tarts. Beat the eggs and broth together (strain the broth first if necessary) and pour over tart filling. Bake at 350°F until firm - about an hour. Allow to cool and serve at room temperature.

Source [Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books, T. Austin (ed.)]: Custarde. Take Vele, and smyte hit in litull peces, and wass it clene; put hit into a faire potte with faire water, and lete hit boyle togidre; then take parcelly, Sauge, Isoppe, Sauerey, wass hem, hewe hem, And cast hem into fless whan hit boileth; then take powder of peper, canel, Clowes, Maces, Saffron, salt, and lete hem boyle togidre, and a goode dele of wyne wit all, And whan the fless is boyled, take it vppe fro the brot, And lete the broth kele. Whan hit is colde, streyne yolkes and white of egges thorgh a streynour, and put hem to the brot, so many that the broth be styff ynowe, And make faire cofyns, and couche iij. or iiij. peces of the fless in the Coffyns; then take Dates, prunes, and kutte hem; cast thereto powder of Gynger and a litull Vergeous, and put to the brot, and salt; then lete the coffyn and the fless bake a litull; And then put the brot in the coffyns, And lete hem bake till they be ynog.

Published: October 3, 2002

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