Capons and herbs and shanks of beef

What, Where, When:

  • A meat and greens pottage.
  • Based on a recipe from central France, dated to approximately 1466.

Original Recipe and Translation

Chappon es herbes et trumeaux de beuf. Boullir ensemble, et du saffran, de la canella, et du gingibre de Mesche entier – Le Recuil de Riom

Capons and herbs and shanks of beef.  Boil together, with saffron, and cinnamon, and whole Mecca ginger.  (Translation by Jennifer Soucy)


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

  • This recipe fills both the “vegetable potage” and “Boiled Beef” slots in the first course of a 15th century French feast.  
  • The beef shank is slowly simmered to make broth and tenderize a very tough cut of meat – this procedure is also specified in Le Menagier in the instructions for a fricassee (Hinson).  
  • Normally I would use a whole capon, but they are expensive, only sold whole, and I wanted to serve the other half roasted as A grosse poulaille.  
  • A variety of beet-leaf and spinach soups are also described in Le Menagier, which vary in whether or not the greens are parboiled and whether they are fried before being put in the soup.  Since I had “young” greens, parboiling wasn’t necessary. Beet greens were not available, so I substituted turnip greens which were in season – I felt their “pepperiness” would complement the soup.

Capon and Greens Stew with Beef Shanks


  • 1 lb shank of beef = no bone

  • Beef broth

  • Legs and wings of a capon

  • 4 quarts Spinach and turnip greens, washed and torn

  • 1 tsp Saffron

  • 2 5-inch sticks cinnamon (whole)

  • Whole ginger


  • Cut shank meat in pieces, and add it and thecapon, which has been cut into portions, to enough beef broth to cover by a few inches.
  • Add saffron, cinnamon, and 1 large chunk of peeled ginger. Simmer until chicken is done. Remove whole spices. Chop spinach and turnip greens.
  • Add greens to soup, bring to simmer and cook until greens are done.
  • Salt to taste.


Sources are detailed here.

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