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Who needs a boring old turkey when you can have a cockenthrice for your Christmas dinner? This was a recipe which called for chicken legs to be attached to the torso of a dead pig, creating the ultimate unusual animal for a period of rulers who enjoyed beavers and porpoises on the regular.
The cockenthrice’s recipe calls for the chef to boil the two animals, before draining and cutting each in half at the waist. The pieces were then sewn together. Some historians now believe that this strange dish could have been inspired by the various voyages of exploration to the Americas undertaken by seafarers at that time, or else by various mythical creatures from classical mythology.
Over the many years since this bizarre dish’s conception, it has been remade with various combinations of creatures, as well as being recreated more recently by Richard Fitch, project coordinator of historic kitchens at Hampton Court Palace, and famed experimental chef Heston Blumenthal.
Fitch created the dish based on a 15th century recipe which required that, once he had sewn the animals together, the new creature be stuffed as the chef would a pig, before being roast on a spit over an open fire. When the dish is nearly cooked, the cook must brush a mixture of saffron, parsley, ginger and egg yolk onto the meat so that it turns an appetising golden colour.
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The dish should then be served to the royal diners, who would no doubt be wowed by the incredible creature. As we have seen already, however, this is far from the only extraordinary dish that wealthy Tudors would have been used to seeing!