Saucy Series, Part VI: Sauce Cameline
Welcome to guest blogger Deana Sidney of Lost Past Remembered, a blog dedicated to discovering, replicating and adapting historic recipes. In this saucy series she demystifies one of the cornerstones of classic French cuisine: the mother sauces.
Sauce Cameline was like the ketchup and barbeque sauce of the Middle Ages. It was a cinnamon-y bread and vinegar sauce that was so popular it was actually purchased at a store. I read in the 14th century Le Mangier de Paris “At the sauce-makers, three half-pints of cameline for dinner and supper…”
He also gives a recipe for it in the book:
“CAMELINE. Note that at Tournais, to make cameline, they grind together ginger, cinnamon and saffron and half a nutmeg: soak in wine, then take out of the mortar; then have white bread crumbs, not toasted, moistened with cold water and grind in the mortar, soak in wine and strain, then boil it all, and lastly add red sugar: and this is winter cameline. And in summer they make it the same way, but it is not boiled.
And in truth, for my taste, the winter sort is good, but the following is much better: grind a little ginger with lots of cinnamon, then take it out, and have lots of toasted bread or bread-crumbs in vinegar, ground and strained.”
Another famous 14th Century cookbook, The Forme of Cury had it as well:
Take currants, meat of nuts, crusts of bread and powdered ginger, cloves, ground cinnamon, pound it well together and add thereto salt temper it up with vinegar and mess forth.
The great Taillevent’s 13th century Le Viandier also had an even earlier recipe:
Take ginger, plenty of cassia, cloves, grains of paradise, mastic, thyme and long pepper (if you wish). Sieve bread soaked in vinegar, strain and salt to taste.
I decided to combine a few recipes and make squab with Cameline Sauce.
It is delicious and tangy, and you will get an idea what it was like to eat in the Middle Ages, not too shabby at all!
4 cooked squab – (see recipe)
1 recipe Cameline Sauce (see recipe)
garnish (I used frisee & parsley)
Place the squabs on the platter with garnish and serve with the sauce
1- 2 slices bread, crusts removed and well-toasted (about 7″ x 3″, 3/4″ thick)
1 c red wine*
1/4 to 1/3 c red wine vinegar*
2 T currants soaked in 4 T water till plump and soft
2-3 t sugar
1 T blanched almonds (optional)
2 t – 2 T cinnamon to taste (I used 1½ T)
1/2 t – 2 t ginger (I used 1t)
1/2 t ground grains of paradise (optional)
Healthy pinch of cloves, nutmeg
Pinch of ground mastic (optional – if you use it remember is it very powerful so use sparingly)
1/2 t thyme
pinch saffron (in 1 T warm red wine)
salt and pepper to taste (if you have long pepper, grind 1 in a spice grinder and add to taste, otherwise use black pepper)
Soak the bread in the wine and vinegar for an hour till mush. Grind the almonds if you are using them, then put in bread and soaking liquid in a blender or processor and puree. Add the spices to taste (especially the cinnamon — most recipes ask for a lot of it, but you may want less – if you use less, add less ginger). At this point you can press through a strainer for a finer texture or not, mine did not, it was smooth as silk.
*You may need to add more wine and vinegar if the sauce is too stiff –– mine was not. You may want to play with the proportions for the tang you like. It will have the texture of ketchup.
To Cook the Squab
2 large carrots, cut into 4-6 sticks each
1 T oil
salt and pepper (you can use ground long pepper and grains of paradise if you have them)
1. Pre-heat oven to 500º. Place a cast iron skillet in the oven and heat for at least 15 minutes.
2. Season the squabs inside and out with salt and pepper. Oil the carrot sticks.
3. Remove the skillet from the oven and place the carrot sticks in the pan and the squab on top (to keeps the bottom of the bird from burning and they are delicious to eat afterwards – a Ming Tsai technique). Roast from 15 to 18 minutes till the squab reaches 120º interior temperature – you don’t want squab done to death –– medium-rare to medium is good. Let rest for 10 minutes.