A Gravy of Birds

What, Where, When:

  • Small roasted birds in a liver-based, spiced sauce.
  • Based on a recipe from central France, dated to approximately 1466.

Original Recipe and Translation

Ung grané d’alouestez et qu’ellez soient ung pou refaictez en leau chaude et misez en ung beau chauderon, et du veau, et du saing de lart avec. Et frire sur charbon tout ensemble, et prandre du pain, et asler sur le grilh tant quil soit assez brun, et mectre tremper ou bon bouillon de beuf et en vin et dez foyez de poullalhe, et color et une estamine. Et le grain qui sera avec gecter dedans ug chauderon tout ensemble pour fere boullir et, quant il sera assez boulli, que on preigne lez espices. Et, quanit il seront broyees, destraper de verjust et gecter dedans. Et y fault graine, giroffle, gingembre et fleur de cannel qui en poura finer ou de la melleur canella qu’il pourra finer. – Le Recuil de Riom

A gravy of birds and they are blanched a little in hot water and put in a good pot, with veal and lard/drippings. And fry together on the coals, and take bread and roast it on the grill until it is rather brown, and put it to soak with beef broth, and with wine and the livers of chicken, and strain it through a strainer. And the meat is cast in together into a pot with everything for boiling, and when it is boiled enough, one takes the spices. And, when they are crushed, infuse in verjuice and cast thereto.  There must be grains of paradise, clove, ginger and cinnamon buds if it can be found or the best cinnamon one can find..  (Translation by Jennifer Soucy)


This recipe is from Le Recuil de Riom, a source more fully discussed in the full translation.  

  • The livers specified for the sauce add a creamy, rich mouthfeel.
  • Cinnamon buds probably refers to the buds of Cinnamonum Ceylon, which have a milder, sweeter taste than the bark (Katzer).  These are hard to find in the present day, and were apparently equally rare for the author.  However, I did find a source for cassia buds, which have a more complex, interesting flavor than either Ceylon or Cassia cinnamon.

Birds in Liver Sauce


  • 2 Quails

  • Drippings from pork ribs – approximately 2 tbs.

  • 1 slices wheat toast

  • 1 cup chicken broth

  • 1 cup red wine

  • 1 Chicken Liver

  • ½ cup verjuice

  • 4 tsp grains of paradise, 20 whole cloves, 2 tbs ground ginger, and 4 tbs cassia buds


  • Grind all spices, and mix with verjuice, set aside.
  • Soak toast in red wine and broth.
  • Place mixture in blender with liver and grind thoroughly (or use immersion blender)
  • Blanch quails in water, then fry in pork drippings.
  • When birds are fully cooked, add liver mixture, bring to a simmer.
  • Add spices and verjuice to sauce, adjust salt to taste.
  • Serve birds with sauce on the side.


Sources are detailed here.

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