Murtagh's Gift to Ellen from Outlander
I caught a strange nonmetallic gleam in the depths of the box, and pointed. "What's that?"
"Oh, those," she said, dipping into the box again. "I've never worn them; they don't suit me. But you could wear them -- you're tall and queenly, like my mother was. They were hers, ye ken."
They were a pair of bracelets. Each made from the curving, almost-circular tusk of a wild boar, polished to a deep ivory glow, the ends capped with silver tappets, etched with flowered tracery.
"Lord, they're gorgeous!" I've never seen anything so...so wonderfully barbaric."
Jenny was amused. "Aye, that they are. Someone gave them to Mother as a wedding gift, but she never would say who. My father used to tease her now and then about her admirer, but she wouldna tell him, either, just smiled like a cat that's had cream to its supper. Here, try them."
The ivory was cool and heavy on my arm. I couldn't resist stroking the deep yellow surface, grained with age.
"Aye, they suit ye," Jenny declared. "And they go wi' that yellow gown, as well. Here are the earbobs -- put these on, and we'll go down."
Outlander (Chapter 31)
"Very sensible. I don't imagine Mrs. Fitz would scream at sight of you," I agreed. The bannocks were steaming gently in the cool air, and smelt heavenly. I reached for one, the heavy boar's-tooth bracelets clinking together on my wrist. I saw Murtagh's eyes on them and adjusted them so he could see the engraved silver end pieces.
"Aren't they lovely?" I said. "Jenny said they were her mother's."
Murtagh's eyes dropped to the bowl of parritch that Mrs. Crook had thrust unceremoniously under his nose.
"They suit ye," he mumbled. Then, returning suddenly to the earlier subject, he said, "No, she wouldna summon help against me. I was well acquent' wi' Glenna FitzGibbons, some time ago."
Outlander, Chapter 31
MacRannoch was studying the wizened little man, trying to subtract thirty years from the seamed countenance.
"Aye, I know ye," he said at last. "Or not the name, but you. Ye killed a wounded boar single-handed with a dagger, during the tynchal. A gallant beast too. That's right, the MacKenzie gave ye the tushes -- a bonny set, almost a complete double curve. Lovely work that, man." A look perilously close to gratification creased Murtagh's pitted cheek momentarily.
I started, remembering the magnificent, barbaric bracelets I had seen at Lallybroch. My mother's, Jenny had said, given to her by an admirer. I stared at Murtagh in disbelief. Even allowing for the passage of thirty years, he did not seem a likely candidate for the tender passion.
Outlander (Chapter 36)
Murtagh's Gift to Ellen (Puff Pastry Boar Tusk Bracelets w/ Prosciutto & Asparagus)
Buttery and bacony appetizers inspired by Murtagh’s gift of wild boar tusk bracelets to Ellen.
Yield: 12 Boar Tusk Bracelets
- Egg - 1
- Prosciutto or Bacon - 12 slices
- Puff Pastry, thawed but still cold - 1 pkg
- Asparagus - 24 tips (about 2” long)
- Parmesan Cheese, shredded - ¼ Cup
Preheat the oven to 425° F
Beat the egg with 1 teaspoon water to make an egg wash. Line two baking sheets with parchment or a silpat (silicone liner). Cut the prosciutto or bacon slices in half lengthwise, so that you have 24 narrow strips.
On a lightly floured counter, roll out the puff pastry to a rectangle measuring about 8” x 12” and ?” thick. Use a sharp knife to cut the pastry into (12) 1” wide strips. The cleaner the cuts, the more evenly the pastry will puff.
Brush 2 or 3 strips with the egg wash on BOTH sides. Cover the remaining strips with plastic wrap to prevent drying.
Holding an asparagus tip on to one end of a pastry strip, wrap the prosciutto/bacon around both, securing the asparagus to the pastry. Repeat on the other end with another asparagus tip and bacon strip.
Handling it gently, twist the pastry ends into spirals, then lay it on the prepared baking sheet in a horseshoe shape, with the asparagus tips pointing towards the middle. Cover with plastic wrap and repeat for the 12 other tusks.
Dab the tusks with a little extra egg wash, sprinkle with grated parmesan and bake until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Rotate and turn the pan at 8 minutes, reshaping the tusks if necessary. Work quickly to get the oven door closed ASAP.
Cool on a rack and serve soon after baking. Recrisp in the oven if necessary.
Ith gu leòir! (Eat Plenty)
- The warmer puff pastry gets, the trickier it becomes to handle. If things are getting slippery, cover everything with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.
- The tusks can be prepared in the morning, wrapped well, and stay in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake them that evening.
- The prosciutto becomes crispy and extra saltilicious, while the bacon fat contributes a different, but equally delicious flavour. I made half and half, which seemed to go down well around here.