From CHEZ JIM Books:
An EIGHTEENTH CENTURY VEGETARIAN COOKBOOK:
APRES MOI LE DESSERT - VOLUME II
and a history of the CROISSANT:
AUGUST ZANG AND THE FRENCH CROISSANT
18th CENTURY RECIPE: A la Sainte-Menehout
Has any reader ever had, in France, a dish "à la Sainte Menehout"? I had
never heard of it (though it apparently endures as a regional specialty), but
began to notice that such dishes appear frequently in eighteenth century
cookbooks. Prospect Book's A GLOSSARY OF COOKERY AND OTHER TERMS includes two entries on it, one for each spelling:
SAINT MENEHOUT: The nomenclature indicated, as it still does in French
cookery, something egg-and-breadcrumbed and then fried or broiled. A good number
of Nott’s receipts, all of French derivation, call for this treatment.
Sainte-Menehould is a small town in the Champagne district. Whether the method of
cookery is called after the town or the saint herself is not recorded. (John
SAINTE MENEHOUD. Sainte-Menehould is a district in the Marne famous for its
charcuterie, especially pigs’ trotters. Alexandre Dumas (1873, here quoted in
the abridged English edition, 1978) draws on Le Viandier by Taillevent for
the origin of dishes ‘a la Sainte Menehould’. It will be seen that Hannah
Glasse’s recipes, 25 and 37, include the same elements but change the sequence
of operations. One evening, following a great battle against the English, King
Charles Vll . . . came to lodge for the night in the little town of
Sainte-Menehould, in which only five or six houses survived, the town having been
burned. The king and his suite were dying of hunger. The ruined and ravaged
countryside was lacking in everything. Finally, they managed to get hold of four
pig’s feet and three chickens. The king had with him no cook, male or female;
so the wife of a poor edge-tool maker was charged with cooking the chickens.
As for the pig’s feet, there was nothing to do but put them on the grill.
The good woman roasted the chickens, dipped them in beaten egg, rolled them in
breadcrumbs with fines herbes, and then, after moistening them with a mustard
sauce, served them to the king and his companions, who devoured the pig’s
feet entire and left only the bones of the chickens.(Glasse, 1747)
(I should warn readers unfamiliar with culinary anecdotes that these are
more often fables than documented history. Nor have I ever seen this recipe
mentioned by Taillevent.) The town's own site is here.
Just as "Chicken Mayonnaise" seems to be the model for other dishes served
in that fashion, pig's trotters (pigs' feet, if you prefer) seem to set the
standard for dishes prepared "à la Sainte-Menehout". For an essentially simple
preparation, however, it seems to have been made in a number of very
The Cuisinier Royal et Bourgeois offers a recipe that sounds tasty - except
for one ingredient (I have never before seen mercury included in any recipe,
eighteenth century or modern). It is not, however, simple, nor quick to make:
Pig's trotters à la Sainte-Menehout
Take the feet, which must be just so and cut in two, and tie each together.
Take a pot; lay out in it strips of lard, a row of feet and of fines herbes,
and a row of feet, and strips of lard, until you have put in all your feet.
Put in a good phial of wine spirit, a little anise, a little coriander,
laurel, a pint of white wine and a little mercury [!!! Hopefully modern readers
know NOT to add this]. Cover all this with strips of lard and line the edges of
the pot with strong paper; the cover must close tightly, and put them so on
the coals to cook which takes ten or twelve hours, more or less. The fire
must not be rushed, so that your feet have time to cook, and it is necessary to
watch them carefully. When they are cooked and cooled, bread them neatly and
grill them, to serve them warm as an Entremets. Theey can also be prepared
for less cost, with white wine mixed together, season them well, and putting in
the Pig's leaf fat ['panne']; as is also done in this other style. Pigeons,
Chicken sor other Fowl are called pieces à la Sainte-Menehout, that some call
à la Mazarine. See what this is in the article on Chickens, and how to
prepare them in this way.
This recipe, from the same work, takes less time to prepare and is probably
more typical of this preparation:
Entree of grilled or fried Pigeons, à la Sainte-Menehout
Take large Pigeons; tie them well, cut them in two and put them on the
coals, being careful that they do not come apart. If you want to fry them, before
breading them, dip them in beaten eggs and bread them after, so that the
bread holds better. One way or the other, they can serve you as a garnish. If you
serve them as a dish, you must put a remoulade under them, composed of
anchovies, parsley, chopped capers, a little spring onion, and good gravy, all
well-seasoned, with a trickle of vinegar; and serve hot.
You can do the same with any Poultry you like. If desired, the Pigeons can
be larded with thick lard with ham, so that they have a better taste. Some
call this style, pieces à la Sainte-Menehout.
In listing ways to prepare sturgeon for fast days, the work even suggests
à la Sainte Menehout, in large slices. For this one uses milk, white wine,
a laurel leaf, all well seasoned, with a little melted lard. Cook the slices
of Sturgeon slowly in this, and then bread and grill them, and put a sauce
under it, as for Mutton tails. Serve hot.
An English cookbook from 1806, The Universal Cook: And City and Country
Housekeeper by Francis Collingwood and John Woollams, strangely does not
include the recipe for pork, but for pullets:
Pullets à la St. Menehout.
Truss the legs in the body, slit them all along the back, and spread them
open on a table. Take out the thigh-bones, and beat them with a rolling-pin.
Then season them with pepper, salt, mace, nutmeg, and sweet herbs. Take a
pound, and a half of veal cut into thin slices, and put it into a stew-pot of a
convenient size, to stew the pullets in. Cover and set it over a stove or slow
fire, and when it begins to stick to the pan, stir in a little flour, and
shake the pan about till it be a little brown. Then pour in as much broth as
will stew the pullets, stir it together, put in a little whole pepper, an onion
and a little piece of bacon or ham. Put in your pullets, cover them close and
let them stew half an hour. Then take them off, lay them on the gridiron to
brown on the inside, strew them over with the yolk of an egg, some bread
crumbs and baste them with a little butter. Let them be a fine brown, and boil
the gravy till there is about enough for sauce; strain it, put in a few
mushrooms and a small piece of butter rolled in flour. Lay the pullets in the dish,
pour in the sauce, garnish with lemon, and send them to table.