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