#380 Gooseberry Sauce for Mackerel

After the rather wet start to the summer, I was beginning to think that this year’s gooseberries were never going to arrive. Then we had that glorious stint of hot weather. Now we have so many gooseberries and other soft fruit, we barely know what to do with them. Well here’s one thing, just as mackerel is in season. I like Jane’s introduction to this recipe:
On May 26th, 1796, Parson Woodforde [we have met him in the blog before, see here] and his neice, Nancy, had for their dinner ‘a couple of maccerel boiled and stewed gooseberries and a leg of mutton roasted’. In other years, they were not so lucky; the gooseberries did not always ripen for the arrival of the first spring mackerel.
Ms Grigson’s recipe is a very simple one indeed:
Begin by topping and tailing 8 ounces of gooseberries and then melt an ounce of butter in a pan. Add the gooseberries, cover with a lid and cook until soft. I love how they go from vivid green to an almost straw-yellow when heated.
Use your wooden spoon to crush the berries on the side of the pan to form a rough purée, you could, if you are so inclined, pass them through a sieve to produce a smooth sauce. I don’t see the point in these things normally; it’s not like gooseberry seeds are particularly offensive.
The tart flavour of the gooseberries is cut with either ¼ pint of double creamor béchamel sauce. I went for the latter for health’s and money’s sake. Taste the sauce and add a little sugar, if needed, don’t make it sweet like an apple sauce for pork.
That’s it! Very simple and not just for mackerel either, but other oily fish, roast duck, pork, lamb, veal and – no surprises – goose.
#380 Gooseberry Sauce for Mackerel. A triumph of good, simple cooking. The creaminess of the béchamel did a great job of wrapping its way around those tart gooseberries, so much so that only a pinch of sugar was required. I could eat it all on its no problem! 8.5/10

3 thoughts on “#380 Gooseberry Sauce for Mackerel

  1. Ho there! I'm delighted to read a review of this recipe, as I had always avoided it on the basis of a flour thickened sauce detracting from the tart joy of gooseberries. I should be less ready to judge, and more willing to trust La Grigsonne. I offer in penance, and verbatim, the sauce I have always used in its stead, from the Fruit Book:\”Stew about 200g gooseberries – no need to top and tail them – with a knob of butter and a tablespoon of sugar. Cover until the juices run, then remove the lid and raise the heat so that any wateriness evaporates rapidly. Sieve – processing or liquidizing makes them too smooth – and add to 150ml whipping cream whisked until very thick. Taste, add a little more sugar, but keep the flavour tart. Stir in a large teaspoonful of a good brand of creamed horseradish, to give a hint of earthiness. Fresh grated horseradish can be used, but it should come from a root recently dug from the ground. It may seem heretical, but I think that with this sort of sauce, a respectable commercial horseradish cream works better. Add a pinch or two of salt to liven the flavour.\”That last sentence is vintage Grigson – any other writer would have included it 'above', but J.G. clips it on the side to make sure it is not forgotten, knowing that the detail is what makes a success of the thing.So pleasing as always to read your blog, hope things keep going well!J.M.


  2. Thanks for the comment – and the recipe. I have the Fruit Book, but haven't noticed the sauce in that recipe included horseradish which sounds fantastic. I shall definitely have to try it and report it on the 'other blog'….


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.