Salamagundi

The Elizabethan era dish, Salmagundi was apparently a very popular pirate ship menu item. One of the reasons must have been it’s infinite versatility. There seem to be as many recipes for it as there were pirate chefs. The name itself evolved from salmigondis which is French for hodgepodge or a whole bunch of different stuff that doesn’t seem to go together. So a ship’s cook could make this out of whatever they had available at the time, which would have varied widely depending on where and how recently they had raided a port. (In fact, according to Pillaging the Empire: Piracy in the Americas 1500-1750 by Kris E. Lane, Pirates “raided coastal settlements for fresh victuals at least as often as for booty.”) The recipes are so varied that it’s not even certain what category of dish it is. It can be a stew, a salad and even a paté when known by it’s Jamaican name, Solomon Gundy, which is made from pickled fish and served with crackers. For our purposes it is salad.

In a possibly unrelated coincidence or another strange evolution, Solomon Grundy is also a popular English Nursery Rhyme. It was first published in 1842, which means it was probably widely circulated orally before that, but the salad most likely predated it.

Solomon Grundy,
Born on a Monday,
Christened on Tuesday,
Married on Wednesday,
Took ill on Thursday,
Grew worse on Friday,
Died on Saturday,
Buried on Sunday.
This is the end
Of Solomon Grundy

What, if anything this has to do with a salad of cooked meats, pickled fish, vegetables, fruits and flowers I have no idea. But the Justice League Zombie-Super-Villian Solomon Grundy was based on this nursery rhyme. Naming himself Solomon Grundy because he was “Born on a Monday”, the only thing he remembers about his pre-zombie life. Both of these guys could probably use a good hearty serving of salamagundi.

Anyway, I started with a recipe for Salmagundi from Celtnet.com, that was adapted from the “The Good Huswives Treasure” by Robert May. I further adapted to my tastes and what I had available, and I suggest you do the same. (This recipe measures everything in grams, as is the European way. A kitchen scale is helpful for this, but precision is not important in this instance. I translated the measurements to mean “some of this” “some more of that” “A little of this” and so on…

Ingredients:
1 rotisserie chicken.
4 Tablespoons fresh tarragon, finely chopped
100g French green beans blanched and refreshed in cold water
1 small red onion, finely chopped
8 radishes, sliced
60g plump raisins
1 Tablespoon capers (the recipe calls for finely chopped, I added them whole)
8 new potatoes, boiled, cooled and sliced
150g black seedless grapes, halved (or red currants)
6 eggs, soft boiled
Bed of chopped lettuce (or beet leaves)
4 Tablespoons mixed chervil, parsley and chives, finely chopped

Ingredients in the original recipe that I did not use. (because i couldn’t find, don’t like, or forgot to buy)
150g marsh samphire, blanched
60g broom buds
8 figs quartered
6 button mushrooms
60 g flaked almonds, toasted
60g black olives, sliced
1 orange peeled and thinly sliced
Ingredients not in the recipe that I added:
Tin of anchovies
Tin of sardines

Ingredients for the Dressing:
200ml extra virgin olive oil
60ml red wine vinegar
juice of 1/2 orange
juice of 1/2 lime
salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

Method:
Boil your eggs for about 6 minutes, or until soft-boiled then drain and
place under cold running water until chilled. Then peel.

Par-boil the samphire and French beans

Remove the flesh from the chicken and cut into strips. Add to a bowl and
toss with the tarragon before seasoning with salt and black pepper.

Toss together the lettuce and broom flowers. Use these to line the base
of a large salad bowl. Arrange the chicken on top then layer the
remaining ingredients. Finish with the orange slices, and whole soft boiled eggs then scatter the
chopped herbs over the top.

Whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the
salad immediately before serving.

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