Stewed cheese

This simple dish of hot, bubbling cheese was a popular repast at Ye Cheshire Cheese public house on Fleet Street. Oliver Goldsmith, Samuel Johnson and Charles Dickens are counted among the pub’s illustrious canon of drinkers, and  may well have sampled its famous stewed cheese along with their ale.

Eighteenth-century recipe for stewing cheese, from The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies

Eighteenth-century recipe for stewing cheese, from The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies

To Stew Cheese

Put 3 spoonfulls of water, & ye yolk of an egg, & a lump of butter, beat up, at ye bottom of a pewter plate. Slice yr cheese in thin small bits upon it, yn stew it on a chafing dish of coals wth an other plate over it.

The cheese, egg and butter mixture is cooked gently on a chafing dish – a raised grate with allowed the food to be heated over a brazier without the fierce heat of the flames. When ready, the cheese would be served in a small pot, which could either serve as a dipping pot for sliced toast, or be used to pour the cheese over toasted bread.

Stewed cheese was frequently eaten as a ‘chaser’ after a serving or two of Ye Cheshire Cheese’s famous meaty puddings of lark, kidney, steak and oysters. Even for a man of Dr Johnson’s legendary appetite, that would have been quite some meal!

 

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