the engastration of a helmeted cock

Engastration is the technical term for the process of stuffing a bird inside a bird inside a bird. It is derived from Greek words meaning “in the belly”

“A well-known English example of the nineteenth century was Pandora’s Cushion, a boned goose stuffed with a boned chicken, which was stuffed with a boned pheasant, itself stuffed with a boned quail.”

image found here

Going back further in time to the Middle Ages, people were eating fanciful creations such as the cockentrice and the helmeted cock.

image found here

Cockentrice: take a capon, scald it, drain it clean, then cut it in half at the waist; take a pig, scald it, drain it as the capon, and also cut it in half at the at the waist; take needle and thread and sew the front part of the capon to the back part of the pig; and the front part of the pig to the back part of the capon, and then stuff it as you would stuff a pig; put it on a spit, and roast it: and when it is done, gild it on the outside with egg yolks, ginger, saffron, and parsley juice; and then serve it forth for a royal meat.

Helmeted Cocks: A piglet and poultry such as a cock are roasted, the poultry should be stuffed – without skinning it then glazed with an egg batter. And when it is glazed it should be seated astride the piglet; and it needs a helmet of glued paper and a lance couched at the breast of the bird, and these should be covered with gold-or-silver-leaf for lords, or with white, red or green tin-leaf. The combination of pig as noble steed & chicken as knight-errant had many amusing connotations.

Helmeted cock found here

Other exotic dishes one could expect to eat in the Middle Ages include Brewet of Stag Testicles, Pettitoes and Spanish Farts***

image found here

*** boiled egg whites stuffed with meatballs and glazed with batter

Published in: on February 1, 2010 at 7:07 am  Comments (38)  
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38 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Another food post. You hungry or something, darlin’?

    • I thought you might want a change from reading about eccentrics ;-)

      And yes, I am hungry, nearly time for dinner….

      • I’d say this sort of cock stuffing is rather a little eccentric. It’s the babushka dolls of poultry.

      • ‘Baboushka dolls of poultry’ ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

  2. Cockentrice – very disturbing. Pinning coloured card onto food seems wrong, the adornments need to be edible, if that cocks helmet was made of spun sugar I’d be much happier.

    • Spun sugar and chicken. That sounds completely wrong but I’m pretty sure I’d still eat it

  3. There’s been a programme over here fairly recently that’s been doing all that stuff [and stuffing] – as Stephen Fry might say “Quite interesting”.

    [Please note I refrained from saying anything along the lines of “That’s a lot of boning” – gotta be worth a gold star surely – tee hee]

    • aw, man…. i was going to complain that ‘all that talk of boning is making me a bit randy…’. but now i can’t…

      • You could have Daisy ….. I spoke in brackets [which is similar to speaking in tongues ….. but different] …. so nobody could see/hear me …….

  4. I’ve decided engastration ain’t my bag. In fact veggiedom is looking distinctly attractive;)

  5. Tonight’s post is pregnant with possibilities. I wonder what the townsfolk would say if I turned up at tomorrow night’s barbecue with a Helmeted Cock? Probably they wouldn’t mind if the ‘knight’ was dressed in one of the town’s two football team’s colours.

  6. folks in the states have re-discovered this practice, i think… “Tur-Duck-En” (Chicken in a Duck in a Turkey) has become trendy.

  7. Daisy is right! I’ve actually had Tur-Duck-En. Seriously. It was lovely. The same courageous people served a turkey cooked in a deep fat fryer, which might sound awful but it was fantastic.

  8. NO wonder people died so young back then.

  9. I undertook something like Engastration when I stuffed a KFC burger down my throat, before stuffing myself into a car, the car into a train, and the train into the Channel Tunnel. It might have been successful had I not eaten the KFC burger………

    • haha… that’s funny Affer

  10. As much as I love meat, I don’t think I’d enjoy the combining of different species. Bacon on a ….well anything is one thing, but I’m more of a purist. I want just one thing cooked to perfection. Some of those sound really interesting though, maybe I should give it a shot?

  11. You had me at helmeted cock!

  12. Rabbit, Rabbit

    Much more inventive names than that Turducken.

  13. This is what happens when you’ve got a bored creative cook and a lot of extra wine lying around. You can imagine, he’s staring at this pile of dead animals he’s got to cook for dinner and thinking, “hey, what if I cut them up and stitch them back together in strange configurations?” You might think they king wouldn’t eat it, but hell, the king eats pretty much anything – the weirder the better. He might ask, “what the hell is this?” in which case you can tell him it was a beast found in a distant land and slain by valiant hunters for the glory of the empire.” In which case he might respond, “excellent!” and then eat mightily of it.

    With such thoughts in his head, the chef pours himself another glass and proceeds.

    • Another glass of wine and he’ll expect a knighthood

  14. oh maaaaann, i dont know if i’m offended or starving! the soiled air image was hilarious!

  15. It’s usually on a Friday after visiting here that I have a feeling of stuffing cocks in peculiar little places.

    I speak of course about putting Paxo into a bird whilst sitting out on the patio.

    …or do I?

  16. You’re calling him Paxo now are you? And Siobhan’s too classy to be referred to as a bird. You’ll be getting a clip around your auld ear for that Jimmy xx

    • …ha haa, nice come back doll.

  17. Don’t forget to serve your Turducken with Baconnaise. It’s bacon and mayonnaise in one convenient jar.

  18. if only that pig and chicken knew how they were going to end up….

  19. You just gave me the idea of the century for next Xmas Dinner!

  20. I have come to adore you, but this post is making me…well, I don’t know, experience something between gagging and wondering wtf people are thinking with dead animals. Your post title was worth it though. A great laugh. :)

  21. no thanks, i’ll stick with animal cookies.
    they don’t give me farts.
    and i don’t have to leave the skin on.

  22. Veganosity is suddenly attractive – providing they don’t sew the celery and the carrots together – – -

  23. I’ve given up trying to stuff my meat into things…

    Anyway, did you watch Heston Blumenthol when he was on Nurse?

    • Heston Who? I had to google him, so no I didn’t watch. Was he interesting?

      • Yes he was, he made a cockentrice in one episode, in fact I suspect thats the very same one in the picture you have.

  24. oh man lol no wonder i keep trying to become a vegetarian lol is there no god for pigs? :)

  25. Bird on bird … and so on is most men’s books of fantasies I believe !!

    • Gosh my typos I meant ‘en’ as Francais

  26. […] Engastration designates the stuffing of one deboned bird into another, forming a multi-bird roast. Turducken is one application of this cooking method. It’s a dish where a chicken is stuffed into a duck which is then stuffed into a turkey. Hence the name: Tur(key) – duck – (chi)ken. A National Geographic article by Calvin Trillin, traces the origins of the dish to “Hebert’s Specialty Meats” in Louisiana, who have been commercially producing turduckens since 1985. The company prepares around 5,000 turduckens per week around Thanksgiving time [1]. […]


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