Is Medieval Perpetual Stew for You?

Is Medieval Perpetual Stew for You?

Back in the good ol’ days, people would cook a stew and keep it going perpetually by adding new scraps each day. It would be in the pot for up to a year, getting more complex (and maybe more funky), being reheated every night. As a foodhandler’s card holder, I’m horrified. As a medieval history enthusiast, I’m enticed. Would you eat it?

One of the most interesting recent experiments happened at the well-liked New York City restaurant Louro. The stew would reinvent itself each day using the original broth, remnants of past meals, and whatever the chef felt like tossing in.  Chef Santos used an induction burner to keep it warm all day, so it never reached unsafe temperatures that would allow harmful bacteria to grow. His stew went from garlic to fish to lamb, all using the same evolving broth. Here are Chef Santos’ different iterations of the exact same stew:

 

Additionally, lots of people do this in their crockpots, but probably not for such an extreme length of time. Some college students even did it with chili in the crisper drawer of their fridge. In medieval times, perpetual stew was extremely appealing because it was cheap, tasted good, and got even better as it got older.

“Bread, water or ale, and a companaticum (‘that which goes with the bread’) from the cauldron, the original stockpot orpot-au-feu that provided an ever-changing broth enriched daily with whatever was available. The cauldron was rarely emptied out except in preparation for the meatless weeks of Lent, so that while a hare, hen or pigeon would give it a fine, meaty flavour, the taste of salted pork or cabbage would linger for days, even weeks.” – Tannahill’s Food in History

As far as doing it in the crockpot, it may lose a lot of it’s seasoned character, but it seems to be a reasonable modern day substitute to a cauldron that perpetually sites over the fire in a medieval inn.

medieval perpetual stew cauldron

Are you psyched to try this out? Have you done it before? Tell us about it in the comments.

2016-10-18T13:51:54+00:00

About the Author:

Jess is a blogger descended from a proud line of drinkers.

5 Comments

  1. Joe January 8, 2016 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    Pea porridge hot, pea porridge cold….Pea porridge in a pot….9 days old….

  2. Wade January 13, 2016 at 2:57 pm - Reply

    Started with beef “stew” very thin, then morphed into a vegetable stew, then added andoulli sausage, whole blue crabs, shrimp and clams…that was on the start of the 2nd week. After the seafood we couldn’t stomach adding anything else so we ate it till it was gone hahaha.

  3. Craig January 13, 2016 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    I have done many versions of this.
    Vegetable and meat leftovers go into the stock pot, and that stock gets used to cook everything else. The stock pot gets boiled everyday ,and thus never gets funky, and if you are doing it right, you are using it up/recycling it pretty fast anyway.

  4. Brenda February 5, 2017 at 11:09 am - Reply

    From what I can gather, this is how the soup base for good pho is made. I will have been wanting to do this.

  5. Vira Phillips July 23, 2017 at 10:23 pm - Reply

    Did not start out intending to do this but that’s how it worked out. Started like many with a simple beef pot roast with the leftovers becoming beef stew on the third day. There always seemed to be something left over too tasty to just toss but not enough for a meal. So that called for adding a bit more broth, a few more vegetables, carrots, onions, potatoes, cabbage, squash. Whatever we happened to have on hand. It just kept evolving. By the end of the secondt week and after quite a variety of different dinners we had a wonderfully savory chili beef type concoction in just the right amount for everyone to have a full meal. But that finished it off. Nothing leftover. And we all went.. awwwww.

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