Filmed & edited by Hana Davies
Music: Gold Panda - Parents
There are as many recipes for biancomangiare as there were Renaissance cooks and Medieval monasteries. This is one that works very well for modern households. Don’t be put off by the idea of the sweet garnish – I urge you to try it, you’ll see why it was considered such a special, sophisticated and comforting dish.
300 g peeled whole almonds
1 lt of water
2 chicken breasts
4 slices of white bread, crusts removed to obtain 80 grams of soft bread
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp white sugar
Poach the chicken in the water. When done, remove the chicken and allow to cool, reserving the poaching liquid for later. Shred the cooled poached chicken by hand to make very fine “threads”. If you’re strapped for time, mincing it finely or blending together with some of the liquid can also be done, but you will end up with a smoother dish, without the careful texture of the threads.
Pound the whole almonds in a mortar (this takes quite a bit of muscle but it’s the way it would have been done in the Renaissance!) or use a food processor to reduce to crumbs, adding about half of the poaching liquid a little at a time to make almond milk. Strain the almond mixture in a cheesecloth or fine strainer to remove the nuts. Transfer the almond milk to a saucepan.
Add the bread and chicken to the almond milk and cook slowly on low heat for about 10 minutes, adding enough of the poaching liquid to cover the chicken. Stir until the mixture thickens slightly to a porridge.
Serve warm, garnished with sugar and cinnamon, as a first course.