Dish- Fat Hen
July 7, 2010
No I am not cooking any fowl yet, but in most of the Viking Age sites which I had studied closer, there is a notable presence of Fat Hen [Chenopodium Album], also in the settlement at Borg. As it today is considered a weed, it may of course reflect a contamination brought in with the harvest or some plant brought in to feed the livestock. However, ethnological sources from Sweden shows that it may have been used as food cooked in the same manner as spinach. källa
Since the grounds around the museum are littered with Fat Hen – or what I think is Fat Hen – I decided to cook some in order to become more familiar with the taste and texture of it. I gathered some plants, even though I realised later that it might have been enough to just cut of the leaves I needed.
I selected the younger and finer leaves, which I then washed to get rid of most of the dirt. When raw the leaves filled a bowl, but I realised that it just like spinach would diminish considerably in volume when cooked, so in order to make a full meal out of it a large quantity would had to have been gathered.
The leaves were then boiled, just like spinach, with some water in the larger of the soapstone vessels. After they had boiled for a while and were quite soft, I prepared the second soapsstone vessel by melting some butter in which I put some of the local leek, “seierslök” [Allium Victorialis]. I fished up the leaves , cut them some and stirred them into the butter. There I let them cook for a short while, before I considered the dish finished. The result was something that more or less looked like spinach, save perhaps for a slightly lighter colour.
The taste was quite similar to spinach, if somewhat chewier in both taste and texture. Of course both the rather large piece of butter and the leek did add some flavour to the dish as well. All in all I found it rather pleasant, though I would have preferred to serve it with something else. As an afterthought, if I were to serve it to someone else I should probably cut away some of the fibrous stem on the back of the leaves.
The Fat Hen could possibly be served in different ways, together with some fresh cheese, one may produce a dish that is quite similar to the Italian way of cooking spinach with ricotta.