Promethean Chicken at Pennsic XL

First, if you think you like cooking over a fire, you may think for a moment, that if a little is good, more is better, right?

Which is why the night of Promethean Chicken was both better and worse than I hoped.  First – fire cooking is awesome. A fat capon or rooster dripping and sizzling could warm the coldest heart! However, try to feed 26 people, and you now need three fat hens, and a lot of extra chicken parts! Because cooking for five, or even eight, or even ten is one thing. Cooking for more than two dozen is – well, let’s just say I should have planned better for that in terms of time management.

HOWEVER, we never fail to stare at adversity and not make a face of some sort, so we went onward and upward and chose to still cook, for nearly everyone at camp, over the fire during Tuesday evening at Pennsic. Luckily, my camp was pretty patient, and I had some good help from Erin, Hannah and Petra to prep. Mathias made me a great fire, and Justin dug me the most awesome fire pit ever. People seemed to have enough to eat, and the chicken was utterly delicious, as were the veggies which managed to actually cook all the way.


Promethean Chicken (that’s bardic for “chicken in fire”)

  • Chicken/s (removed of gizzards and such, with skin on)
  • Two onions per chicken, roughly cut
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, spices to taste (in this case, garlic powder, salt and pepper)
  • Fire.
  • Tinfoil

Build a nice fire with excellent coals.  Stuff chicken with onions.  Coat with oil and spices.  Wrap in several layers of foil and put into the coals of the fire, heaping them on the chicken if possible.  Cooking time will vary, but will likely be about 2.5 hours total (if the chickens are evenly spaced.)

Roast Vegetables

  • Potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic cloves (whole)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper (spices if desired)
  • Foil

Cut the veggies coarsely. Toss in spices and oil. Pack in packets of foil. Place in the fire, heaping coals on the top of them. Check after about 45 minutes. Cooking time will likely be about 2 hours. You may wish to open them now and then to add a little water (or beer!) to help steam them a little, keeping them from burning and also cooking them faster.

Chicken in the Pot

  • Good size Dutch oven with cover, to hang over hot fire
  • Ten lbs thigh/leg combos of chicken
  • One bottle dark beer
  • Dozen garlic cloves, crushed
  • Five onions, chopped coarsely
  • Salt, pepper and spice as wished
  • Extra dish for rotating the top and bottom pieces

This is easy. Get a big pot. Fill with chicken. Add beer. Put cover on. Hang over fire for about 1 hour. Try not to drool into the pot when you open it.  Move chicken pieces so the top pieces are on the bottom, and vice versa, so it all cooks more quickly and evenly. This chicken is to die for. And it’s insanely easy.

Lab Report

Now, of course, it’s Pennsic. So I got dinner started late, and then everyone got hungry. And it’s on a fire, so well, there’s variance in the cookery.  Suffice to say, start about 3.5 hours before dinner, using half an hour to prep.  As it was, some stuff cooked beautifully (perfect carrots and taters) and other packets were crunchy, which is not awesome in a potato. However, all the chickens cooked in about 2 hours and change, and were tender, succulent and wonderful. Totally worth the wait. The Dutch oven chickens cooked very well and quickly – they’d be a good started for the first batch of diners, while the roasters finish roasting.  All in all, it was a little later than normal, but everyone had lots to eat and were full of happiness by the time it was darkish out. Then we sang by the fire.


Salmon Dinner at Pembridge at Pennsic XL

So we had driven for miles and miles and miles and at last had arrived at the Pennsic War.

We were grocery shopping for the week’s supplies and there, before us, were these beautiful salmon fillets.  Our house didn’t have a cooking fire pit dug yet, but I had a feeling where we might find one…

Suspecting (correctly) that Pembridge Manor just might have had a nice cooking fire ready for a girl, we sent a message to the good Baron, who replied that indeed, were such foodstuffs procured, a fire to order would be made.

We picked up planks of cedar for the salmon, and the fish (beautiful, beautiful, though a little thinner than what we often get here in Endewearde).  We had a few non-period root vegetables, onion, garlic and some summer squash and zucchini.

We took the salmon, coated it in oil, and tied it onto the plank with oil-soaked cotton string, then rubbed the fish down with sea salt and pepper. The veggies we tossed in oil, threw in whole cloves of garlic, the onion and everything with salt and pepper as well into a neat little packet of foil (so as to not need to clean the cast iron. I am a lazy cook.)

The salmon faced the fire, and soon was dripping and steaming in the radiant heat from the nice fire. The veggies were steaming gleefully in their package, and so we headed out to park the beast of burden someplace in the next county.  Of course, it always takes longer than you think, so when we returned the salmon was not so moist as it ought to have been had I tended it, but it still was a bit moist in the thickest parts, and a flavorful, flaky jerky at the lean end. It was utterly delicious, and the veggies were magnificent – perfectly cooked to tenderness and full in flavor without being a bit dry or really burned, even those at the bottom of the pot.

With a lovely glass of brandy, and the company of Drew, Angus, Margarite and Connor, we passed a lovely evening away before the fire, eating our fill and then taking the salmon on a walkabout for neighbors to sample. And that was how the war began, and it set a wonderful tone for the rest of the week!


Planked Salmon

  • olive or vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper (or spices to taste)
  • wood for planking – it need not be cedar, but ought to be, obviously, untreated and clean
  • cotton string (enough to wrap the fish onto the plank)
  • ideally a little butter or oil to baste the fish as it cooks

Get the fire nice and hot, so it is fiercely radiating. Wet the string with oil, oil the board lightly and tie the fillet to the board with string so it is secure – it ought to be able to stand tall-ways and not slide. Prop the salmon up near the fire so it is getting the best heat; you will need to turn it.  It does dry quickly, so one should (not leave camp to park a car in Ohio) stay with the fish and baste it to keep it moist, turning it frequently. You can use any kind of fillet in this method, but salmon holds up to a lot of abuse in a way a more delicately tempered fish might not.

Roasted Vegetables

  • half dozen red potatoes, cut coarsely
  • one sweet onion, cut coarsely
  • one bulb garlic cloves, peeled but not cut
  • two each small zucchini and summer squash
  • other veggies as preferred
  • oil, salt and pepper

Make a packet of tin foil which will hold all the vegetables, or line a pot with a few layers of foil. Toss the veggies with oil and spices and put them into the foil, wrapping it tightly to help steam them. You can place them over the fire in a Dutch oven, or over coals, or put the packet itself right in the middle of the coals.  They should be done in an hour or less, over a hot fire, but they won’t really overcook if they’re above. Burning the bottom layer is really the worse threat to this dish.  You’ll want to check periodically to see that it’s cooking but not burning. Make more than you think you’ll need, because even people who hate vegetables seem to love them when they’re cooked in this steamed/roasted method.

An Ungraceful List of Dayboards

Endewearde Hunt 2004 $60 for about 35-40 people 22lb turkey, cooked in the manner of a swan, stuffed with bread, grapes, apples and onions medieval salad (lettuce, herbs, oil-vin dressing) bag of whole walnuts (w. cracker) 6 loaves bread (various kinds from Godric) 5lb cheddar cheese cooler of sekanajbin (by Margaret) and water 3 dozen pickled eggs and some plain hardboiled eggs

Endewearde Hunt 2006 $125 (60 to 70 people) 10 gallons of both chicken and vegetable stew with parsnips, mushrooms, onions, garlic 8-10 loaves of wheat and white bread and 2 kinds of honey butter, with and without cinnamon added green leafy salad tossed in an oil, balsamic vinegar and sugar dressing fresh fruits including apples, grapes, pears, and blackberries 3 meat pies with onion, garlic, currants and various seasonings 2 pounds of cheddar cheese donated by Freida – apricot perserves (beloved by the local bees) and pickled beets, and sweetmeats (mka dried fruit) various beverages including Lady Margaret’s sekanjibin, teas, and apple cider

Hunt 2005 $100 for 85 people Gourde in Pottage Cabboges in Pottage eggs sekanjabin bread cheese apples Check message 18

Jahan’s 2005 $84 for apx 60 people 3 bags apples 14 quarts carrot-leek (vegetarian) soup (2007 note: I don’t believe this quantity…I think it was far less) 7 loaves of bread and a tub of whipped butter 36 eggs a brick of goat cheese; block of cheddar one container of honey large salad (6 heads romaine lettuce, herbs, oil, vinegar and rosewater dressing) beverages were tea, cider packets and water

Jehan’s 2006 about $100? 96 pasties – mushroom and cheese (veg) and ground beef Soup – Split Pea & Ham – about 10 quarts 3 or 4 dozen hard boiled eggs Cheese – 5 lb Mild Cheddar and 2lb Muenster White bread (can’t recall how much) Honeyed-butter, 5lb apples; bag oranges Water with Lemons & Water with Orange Blossom Syrup Edit  Delete Jehan’s dayboard 2007 $150; estimated for 65 attendees; attendance was 120+ 142 pieces of bread (rolls, baguettes, wheat loaves) 17.5 lb cooked ham 54 hard-boiled eggs 5lb brick white cheddar, 1 lb goat cheese, 2 lb smoked Gouda 8-9 quarts Roasted Root Vegetable Soup (3 x3.5 quart stock pots full) Salad and dressing (two large salad bowls) 3 bags apples, honey, yogurt, Grif’s mustard, Frida’s apple jelly, Brownyn’s rice crispy subtlety, anon donation: a pecan pie, an apple pie, Thunder gave: a med turkey, 2 loaves homemade bread, 1.5 lb cheese, ¾ chocolate cake,

Yule Dinner (for family and friends – all medieval) I kept no cost record, but I fed 20 with MUCH left over Tourtes parmeriennes (with pork and currants) Venyson in Broth – venison soup Funges – Mushrooms in broth and spices Caboches in Pottage – spiced cabbages with onions Frytour of erbes – Batter-fried herb fritters served wtih honey beaver sausage; beer cheese, goat cheese and cheddar; honey butter; crackers Salat – a lettuce and herb salad suet (plumb) pudding with lemon sauce