The Old Rectory, Winterborne Came / William Barnes / St. Peter's Church, Winterborne Came
William Barnes was born in Dorset in 1801 and worked as both a solicitor's clerk and a schoolmaster before getting his degree from Cambridge in 1851. He served as rector of St. Peter's in Winterborne Came, Dorset, from 1862 to his death in 1886. Barnes was extremely interested in language and published three volumes of poetry written in the local Dorset dialect. This poem comes from an edition of Barnes's poems edited by fellow author and Dorset-dweller Thomas Hardy. I think it's safe to say they both admired milkmaids!
Select Poems of William Barnes
To go with the Dorset poetry, I made an old Dorset recipe that I've adapted from The National Trust Farmhouse Cookbook. It's not terribly photogenic, but Smothered Chicken is a great method for keeping the chicken nice and moist. It reheats well, too.
2 oz. fresh breadcrumbs
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
juice from a small lemon
Imperial pint (20 oz.) hard cider
1 chicken, jointed
flour, seasoned with salt and pepper, for dredging
4 rashers bacon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small mixing bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, onion and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the lemon juice. The mixture should be wet enough to moisten the bread, but not make it mushy. If you need more moisture, add a bit of cider.
Dredge the chicken pieces in seasoned flour and place in a single layer in the bottom of a large dutch oven. Lay the bacon rashers over the chicken, then cover everything with the breadcrumb mixture. Pour cider around the meat until it comes about halfway up the chicken pieces.
Cook in the middle of the oven for 1 1/2 hours, checking occasionally that the cider hasn't totally cooked off and adding more, if needed. You want it to make a thickish gravy with the flour and the breadcrumb mixture.
Adapted from "Smothered Chicken" in Laura Mason, The National Trust Farmhouse Cookbook (London: National Trust Books, 2009), 62.