Scotch ‘Scollops’

The title of this dish is a little misleading. It might have you expecting a fine seafood dish, but rather than scallops these are in fact ‘Scotch Collops’: thinly sliced veal in a rich gravy.

The term ‘collop’ is thought to derive from the French escalope and essentially means the same thing: a boneless slice of meat, which could be fried, broiled or stewed. This Scottish variation offers a rich winter treat, but wouldn’t be cheap to make today: the recipe calls for both oysters and truffles.

There’s another ingredient which is rarely seen today: the recipe instructs that, should a heifer calf be used for the veal meat, then the udder should be cut up finely ‘like coxcombs’ and fried up as a garnish for the dish!

Extract from The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies showing an 18th century recipe for "Scotch Scollops"

Extract from The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies showing an 18th century recipe for “Scotch Scollops”

Scotch Scollops Excellent

Take a leg of veal. Cut of as thin as possible, ye round way, as much scollops as will fit yr dish, & beat them with [a] rowling pin. Strowe them all over with flower, then put an ounce and half of butter in ye pan & when it is hot, lay in the meat & lay ye same quantity of butter over it. Then cover them with a plate & let them stew till all ye liquor is consumed & ye are a fine light brown. Then put a pint & half of good brown greavy & half a pint of white wine, some thyme & parsley, two anchovys, two onions shred, half a nuttmeg grated, half an hundred of large oysters, some lemon peel, ye juice of a lemon, some morells & troafels that have been first soaked in water. Stew all till you think they are done, then toss them up with a lump of butter rolld in flower till ye sauce is pretty thick & sticks to ye meat. If you cant get morrels and troafels, dried mushroons will do. Put in some roasted chessnuts. If heifer veal, slice ye udder thin like coxcombs. You may lard them if you like it better then plain. Garnish with some slic’d lemon, fryed bacon and forsd balls.

To collar meat

We last looked at ‘collaring’ when we put together a Regency menu of beef and Yorkshire pudding for St George’s Day. Today’s first two recipes use the same technique of tightly rolling and binding meat, which is then pickled for use at a later date.

Nowadays, brawn (in its culinary sense) is often used to refer to a jellied preparation of pig’s head and tongue. In this Georgian recipe for collared brawn, it refers to the raw head meat. The meat is stripped from the skull before being salted, seasoned and boiled in a vinegar solution. Then, rolled up tightly in cloth, it is steeped in a strong pickle until tender and ready for use:

An 18th century recipe for collaring and pickling brawn from The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies

An 18th century recipe for collaring and pickling brawn from The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies

To Collar Brawn

Take a quarter of brawn, lay it in salt three days. Then take some all spice, cloves & mace & season it. Boyle it in a cloath very soft with some vinegar, salt & water till it be tender. Then rowl it over new with another cloath & fresh tape as hard as possible. Then let it be cold. Then boyle yr pickle with some brawn with a little fresh water. Let it be cold & keep ye brawn constantly in it tyed up. Make fresh liquor once a fortnight.

A very similar method is used to prepare breast of veal:

18th century recipe "to collar a breast of veal" from The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

18th century recipe “to collar a breast of veal” from The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

To Collar a Breast of Veal

Bone a large breast of veal, wash it clean, soak it in 2 or 3 waters. Dry it well. Season it with salt, pepper, cloves & mace, some sweet herbs. Dip it all over in a batter of eggs. Roll it up hard in a cloth. Boyle it in salt & water, vinigar & allspice. Boyle it well & skim it. Take out yr collar & keep it in this pickle when both are cold.

But collared meat needn’t be pickled at all. In the following recipe for mutton collars, the meat is served up hot in a rich, flavoursome gravy with a colourful garnish of lemon and red cabbage. There’s also an innovative technique for keeping the mutton moist: it is baked in a pot along with white bread and water and sealed with a pastry lid:

This 18th century recipe for collaring mutton creates a colourful impression of work in the Georgian kitchen

This 18th century recipe for collaring mutton creates a colourful impression of work in the Georgian kitchen

Mutton Collars

Take a breast & neck of mutton, bone it, spread it on ye dresser. Take ye yolks of 3 eggs boyled hard & shred small, half a lemon peel shread, 3 anchoves shred, some shives, thyme, some pepper & allspice pounded. Strow these all over ye in side of ye meat but first rub ye in side with the white of an egg. Then clap the breast on the neck & roll ym up hard with a tape & cloth in a collar. Bake it in a crok with white bread, fill’d up with water & cover’d with paste. When it coms out, take it out of ye crok & let it lye till next day in ye cloth. Then take it out & cut it in 3 collars the height of yr hand. Then toss up a sauce of strong greavy, white wine, anchoves shred, lemon peel & onion, thyme & parsley, pepper, all spice, a lump of butter roll’d in flower. Toss these up together, then heat the collars in it. You must have a good deal of liquor, for you must allow for waste in heating yr collars. Garnish yr dish with slices of lemon & red cabbage.

There’s some lovely imagery in this recipe – the meat being spread out on the kitchen dresser, the ‘clap’ as one cut is laid on the other for rolling… Further clues as to what work was like in the kitchens of our ‘unknown ladies’.

Lumber pie

Transform simple forcemeat into something amazing with this 18th century recipe for lumber pie.

Home-made forcemeat balls are layered in a dish with bone marrow, lemon peel,  asparagus tips and a selection of sweetmeats, and baked under a lid of puff pastry. Once cooked through, a rich warm sauce of egg yolks, butter, wine and sugar is poured into the pie.

Like name, like nature, lumber pie is a heavy, hearty dish!

18th century recipe for a hearty "lumber pye", from The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies

18th century recipe for a hearty “lumber pye”, from The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies

A Lumber Pye

Half roast a leg of veal. Take a pd & half of it clear the from skin, a pd & half of fresh marrow. Minse them very small. 3 large naple biskets, a pd of brown sugar, some pounded cloves & mace, 4 or 5 spoonfulls of rose water or orange flower water, 2 eggs broke in to it & work this into a paste with your hands. Make it into balls, then lay them in layers in your dish with a layer of whole marrow betwen a layer, a little shread lemon peel that has been boyled tender, & betwen another layer put the tops of asparagus, betwen another layer put all sorts of sweet meats & last of all put a layer of balls. Cover it with puff paste. When it is baked, pour a caudle made of a pint of white wine, the yolks of 4 eggs & a bit of butter. Sweeten it with sugar. Pour this hot & serve it up.

If you’re thinking of giving this dish a go and would like to see what you’re aiming for, there’s a fantastic photo on Ivan Day’s Historic Food website!

A Surfeit of Snipes

12 August, the ‘Glorious Twelfth’, when Victorian high society would leave London for moors, marshes and hills and the grouse-shooting season. It was the Game Act of 1831 that had introduced closed seasons, defined periods when the shooting of certain wildfowl species was strictly prohibited. The popularity of game within Georgian households had threatened the survival of many wild bird species in the British Isles, and government legislation was considered essential to protect economic interests in game bird populations.

The common snipe was not included in the 1831 Game Act. Perhaps their effective camouflage and erratic flight patterns helped to keep snipe populations buoyant for much longer than those of grouse, pheasants and partridges. Despite snipe being notoriously difficult to catch, our 18th century cookbook compilers clearly knew someone skilled in hunting these elusive animals, for here is a recipe for a ‘surfeit’ of them.

It’s a rich, meaty dish, perfectly suited for the onset of chilly autumnal evenings. So while the summer is still with us, maybe just make a mental note of it for a later month, when you have an appetite for something hearty and comforting. Indeed, snipes are considered at their best between December and January.

Recipe for a "surfuit" of snipes, from The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies

Recipe for a “surfuit” of snipes, from The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies

A  Surfuit of Snipes

Take a fillit of veal. Cut it small with a pd of sewit, half a pd of good fat bacon, some thyme & pepper, a little shred lemon. Let these be minc’d extraordinary small, & made in forc’d meat wth an egg. Put a layer at ye bottom of yr dish & cut yr snipes in halves & lay a thin rashure of bacon on them, every one. After you have place’d ym handsomly in yr dish, strow a good deal of crumbs of bread & shred parsley & a very little pepper over all. Put some forc’d meat on ye edge of yr dish, & yr forc’d meat yt is left put as a lid over ym. Bake it an hour at least. When it coms out, cut a whole in ye top & pour in some very good greavy. So serve it up for first course.

It’s all but impossible to get hold of snipe at the supermarket, but a butcher with a specialism in game may be able to get hold of some for you. There are some handy tips on preparing snipe on the BBC Food website. Or why not consider adapting the recipe for quails, which are generally far easier to source…

A surf and turf soup

Oysters, crab and lobster are the stars of this rich stew, which is based on a thick broth of mutton and veal.

To make crab and lobster soup: an 18th century recipe from The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies

To make crab and lobster soup: an 18th century recipe from The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies

To Make Crab & Lobster Soop

Take a neck of mutton & a nuckle of veal. Put them over the fire and make some strong broath with a bunch of time, 2 whole onyons & a little whole pepper. Then take all the fish out of 6 lobsters & as many crabs and put it in the strong broath & let them stew one hour over a slow fire with a pint of clarret. Then, strain yr liquor through a hair sieve, put it over the fire with 4 handfulls of grated bread, about a score of oysters & let them stew all together with a qr of a pnd of fresh butter melted in a little flower, with half a greated nutmeg. So thicken it over the fire then serve it up with a broyled crab in the middle & garnish yr dish with sliced lemon and crabs claws.

Lobsters fished from British waters could be bought more cheaply in the 18th century than they are today, and oysters were also used liberally in the Georgian kitchen.

Mutton and oysters were a celebrated combination of the period. Several Georgian cookery books include a recipe for roast mutton, in which oysters are stuffed into slits in the meat before cooking.

Take a calf’s bag…

In our Cookbook of Unknown Ladies, the following recipe accompanies that for Mrs Hayne’s Dried Cream Cheese

Eighteenth-century recipe for liquid rennet, from The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies

Eighteenth-century recipe for liquid rennet, from The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies

The Rennet for the Cheese

Take a calf’s bag, prick it and put half a pint of sack into it and as much in the pot where the bag lies. Then take one nutmeg and a little mace and 4 cloves, bruise them and put them in a little bag and put it into the rennet, whipping it sometimes and stirring it together. You may use it in 3 or 4 days. Then bottle it up very close to keep it. Put a spoonful and a  half in the cheese.

This recipe takes us through the preparation of liquid rennet, or ‘rennet wine’. The ‘calf’s bag’ refers to the animal’s fourth stomach compartment (the abomasum). The natural rennin produced in the stomach allows the calf to digest its mother’s milk and, when extracted, the enzyme can also be used to separate curds from whey in cheese-making.

Here, the stomach lining is soaked in a fortified wine (sack) for several days to create a liquid extract. Nutmeg, cloves and mace are also added to the mix. According to Richard Bradley’s The Country Housewife and Lady’s Director (1728), the addition of spices in this preparation would ‘strengthen’ the rennet, and lend cheese a certain sharpness or ‘briskness of taste’.