Chapter 8: Stuffings, Sauces & Preserves – Completed!

Well folks, another full chapter is complete!

This was a bit of an odds-and-ends one which was full of revelations for me because it covered a large area of cookery even most chefs don’t bother with these days.
#272 Melted Butter

It’s rather difficult to reflect upon what Jane thought directly, because Chapter 8 is the only one that does not benefit from a written introduction. It was obviously an important area for her though, as she really looks towards under-used ingredients and uses a variety of techniques, so it’s well worth having a look through yourself.
#343 Oyster Stuffing
I – unsurprisingly – split the chapter into the following sections:
8.1: Stuffings (5 recipes)
8.2: Sauces (19 recipes)
8.3: Preserves (21 recipes)
Giving a total of 35 recipes. Click on the hyperlinks to see my review of the individual sections.
The chapter scored an overall mean of 7.6, the highest score so far for a completed chapter, fuelled by three recipes receiving top marks and a lack of total disasters. For those who care (and I know none of you do), here’s a little bar chart showing the mean scores for the chapter as a whole and as separate sections with standard deviation bars.
The five Stuffingrecipes are absolutely delicious, with #343 Oyster Stuffing being one of the most delicious things I have ever made. Growing up in a Paxo household meant I simply did not know how good a simple stuffing could be.

The Sauceswere diverse and delicious, the simplest – #306 Mint Sauce – being the best, but there are other great recipes, such as #272 Melted Butter and #432 White Devil Sauce.

#109 Quince Comfits
There’s a huge variety in the Preservessection too, with Jane avoiding the obvious things like raspberry jam. Instead she uses ingredients like cornel cherries, medlars and sorbs, so you can make preserves you are very unlikely to find in any store or farmers’ market. There is variety too in the types of preserves; jams, jellies, chutneys, sugars, comfits, candies and liqueurs all make an appearance. #397 Herb Jelly is one of my favourites, as is #46 Rich Orangeade, and I have never found a better, or more simple, (#24) Seville Orange Marmalade recipe.

8.2: Sauces – completed!

English food has a bad rep wherever you go, and our sauces infamously bad. Indeed, the French only officially recognise one English sauce, and that is custard, or crème Anglaise! The French also find our combination of mint sauce and lamb bizarre, which I cannot understand when, for me, it’s one of the most delicious things one can eat.

#272 Melted Butter


Our sauces are often made with too much flour and end up being rather cloying, plenty of butter and patience and only a little flour are what is required. Using recipes that cut corners, or the purchase of preparatory versions, mean we end up forgetting what many of these foods are supposed to taste like. Jane complains about this throughout the book (and yet still includes them herself; see #411 Calf’s Brains with Curry and Grape Sauce). The British butter sauce (aka #272 Good Melted Butter) is a case in point. My only experience of this sauce was the boil in the bag cod steaks in butter sauce I ate as a child with potatoes and tinned peas, it wasn’t until I made Jane’s version that I realised just how good it could be!

#123 Bread Sauce

All the other classics are here too: mint, bread, Cumberland, apple and all score well, with #306 Mint Sauce being the only sauce to score full marks.

One revelation was tasting home-made #93 Mayonnaise, until I made it for the blog I had never tried it before! It was so different to the bought stuff and just did not know what to make of it. I’ve become quite handy at making my own now, having tweaked Jane’s recipe a little to suit my own tastes, though I do still love the supermarket stuff!

There are only a few disappointing recipes: some of the apple sauce recipes were under par, #170 English Salad Sauce was basically salty cream, nothing like the salad cream I had expected. Not good. The mediaeval #347 Sawce Noyre was simply weird, a thick bread and chicken liver-based sauce that could have been trowelled onto the roast meat with which it was supposed to be served.

#332 Cherry Sauce


There was nothing really shocking though, and the section scored an average mark of 7.3 (and a median of 7.5 and mean of 7). There was a total of 19 recipes, all of which are listed below in the order they appear in the book, along with the scores I gave them and hyperlinks to the original post.

#432 White Devil Sauce

I have made and experimented with many a devil sauce in my time, but this recipe was always annoyingly elusive due to the inclusion of a tricky-to-find ingredient called Harvey’s sauce. Up until the last couple of decades or so, Harvey’s sauce was widely available, but after searching both delis and the internet for years, I gave up. I managed to find recipes for Harvey’s sauce in Victorian cook books, but it was quite an effort and it is required to sit and mature for years before it is ready. The annoying thing is, only half a teaspoon is required to make this devil sauce! However, it used to be so popular in the 19th Century, I didn’t want to omit or substitute it (plus I would be going against the rules of the blog!).

Just a couple of weeks ago I did one final internet search and Bingo! I found what I was looking for. The reason it was so difficult was that it had had a name change. The original company that produced it – Lazenby’s – was bought out by iconic brand Crosse & Blackwell, which, in turn, was partially-bought out by Premier Foods, who sold it as Worcestershire sauce! Although it was no longer for general sale in the UK, it was still very popular in South Africa; and so, a few minutes and a few mouse clicks later I had ordered a bottle and it was getting shipped over to me. All I had to was wait one week for it to arrive.
In the end, Harvey’s sauce does taste pretty similar to Worcestershire sauce, so if you want to make it, just substitute it for the Lee & Perrins.
In a bowl or small jug mix together 1 teaspoon each of French mustard (Dijon or Moutarde de Meaux), anchovy sauce, wine vinegar, salt and sugar, along with ½ teaspoon each of Harvey’s sauce and Worcestershire sauce.
If you are using the sauce cold to go with cold meats, whip ¼ pint of double cream and fold in the above mixture.
Jane suggests spreading the pieces of cold meat with a little more mustard and pour over the sauce using unwhipped cream and pop into a hot oven until everything has heated through and is lightly browned.


I did neither, instead using the sauce to make devilled chicken livers. For this, get a frying pan or skillet very hot and thrown in a good knob of butter. As soon as the butter stops frothing, place the livers in the pan and leave undisturbed for 2 minutes before turning over and cooking 2 minutes more. Pour over the sauce and turn the livers over in it so that they get a good coating. Have some slices of toast ready and place the livers on top. If necessary, boil down the sauce to an appropriately delicious thickness and pour over the livers. Serve at once.

#432 White Devil Sauce. This was delicious, as devil sauces always are, it was highly seasoned but there wasn’t enough devil in it for my tastes; I think it could have done with either a good pinch of Cayenne pepper or a good slug of Tabasco sauce. That said, it was horsed down, so it still gets a good score! 8/10.

#364 Spiced Apple Sauce

Did you all have a lovely Christmas? I did – certainly when it came to the food. This one is just a quickie, the next post will be more exciting…
On the big day my family decided to go for a roast goose and #180 Roast Beef. Can you believe there is no recipe for roast goose in English Food? There is, however, a recipe for an apple sauce to go with it…
This apple recipe is the final one of four for apple sauce in English Food (for all four, click here), the others have been a little hit and miss; would it be the best? I had high hopes there’s robust spices, brown sugar and sharp Bramley apples and wine vinegar.
Aside from goose, this sauce goes well with salt pork and duck.
Start off by peeling, coring and roughly chopping a pound of Bramley apples. Melt an ounce of butter in a saucepan then add two tablespoons each of waterand white wine vinegar before tipping in the apples. Next add your spices; a quarter of a teaspoon each of grated nutmeg, cinnamon and black pepper. Simmer until the apples form a purée. Add more water if need be. Lastly, sweeten the sauce with about an ounce of soft dark brown sugar. Add more spices if you like (I found the amount suggested perfect).
 
#364 Spiced Apple Sauce. This was, by far, the best of all the apple sauces. The sauce was a great mix of tart and sweet and there was such an interesting mix of spices that were warming yet totally savoury. The dash of vinegar enhanced the flavours and gave it a moreish tang that really complemented the rich goose. This will be the only recipe for apple sauce I will use from now on. 9.5/10.

#360 Apple Sauce I

This is the third of four different apple sauces in English Food. I have had to wait to cook this one as it requires a quince.

Quince are an ancient fruit, related to apples and pears, that is not seen around too much these days as they have fallen out of favour somewhat and also have a very short season. They have also suffered because of the terrible wet weather we’ve had this year.

Apple sauce should not be reserved just for roast pork, by the way, use it with sausages, black pudding, chicken, turkey, goose or game. It is a surprisingly versatile condiment.

Chop up 8 ounces of Bramley’s seedling apples (those in North America, use Mackintosh apples) and slice one ‘small or moderate quince’. You don’t need to peel or core the fruit, but I would scrub off the naturally-occurring fluff from the skin of the quince, should it have some. Place in a pan along with ¼ pint of water, a heaped tablespoon of sugar (omit if using Mackintosh apples) and a pared strip of lemon peel. Cover and simmer until a puply, then pass through a sieve or mouli-legumes to remove peel &c.

Put back on the heat and stir until it thickens up; you don’t want it ‘sloppy and wet’ as Griggers says. Stir in one ounce of butter and give the finished sauce a healthy seasoning of black pepper.

#360 Apple Sauce I. I liked this one very much and ate it with some rabbit which it complemented very well. The quince mellowed the Bramley’s, making them much less tart. Tres bon. 7.5/10.
 

#347 Sawce Noyre for Roast Capon

This recipe for black sauce was popular all over Europe in the Middle Ages with many variations and alternative names like sauce infernal. They all use fried and ground livers as a base. In England it was served up with roast meat; capon in this case was used as were various game birds. Other countries used other additional flurries such as Parma ham, dried ceps, onions or garlic and spread it on toast or bread.

A banquet in the Middle Ages – this is a French picture
though at the time French and English food was very similar

The recipe comes from a manuscript with the rather clinical name Ashmole MS. 1430, dating unsurprisingly from 1430. To put the year in context, Henry VI of the House of Lancaster is on the Throne; the political bubblings are beginning that led eventually to the War of the Roses around 20 years later. The original hand-scribed pages are kept in the British Museum, but the manuscript did appear in print along with some other 15th century cook books in the late 19th century.

Henry VI, the Child King

Jane doesn’t give the original recipe that she bases hers on, but I did find it online. It is written in Middle English and takes a little deciphering:

Black sauce for capouns y-rostyde.—Take þe Lyuer of̘ capouns, and roste hit wel; take anyse, and grynde parysgingere, and canel, and a litil cruste of̘ brede, and grynde hit̘ weƚƚ aƚƚ to-gedre; tempre hit up wiþ verious, and þe grece of the capon, þanne boile it̘ and serue forþe.

I translate it as:

Take the livers of capons, and roast them well; take aniseed, ground ginger, and cinnamon, and a little crust of bread, and grind it well all together; temper it up with verjuice and the fat of the capon, then boil and serve forth.

Going back even further in time to the very first known practical cook book – Forme of Cury – written around 1390 contains a recipe for mallard in black sauce.

I made it to go with roast chicken rather than roast capon and it is best made whilst it is resting so you can skim off the fat from the roasting tin and use it to fry the livers.

Pass a beady eye over a pound of chicken livers, making sure that there are no big gristly bits or little green bile ducts left on them. Heat some chicken fat in a frying pan and add the chicken livers. Make sure that the heat is really high so that the livers brown nicely whilst keeping the insides moist and pink. This should take about 4 minutes in all – though it might be worth poking one of the biggest livers with a slenderly-pointed knife to check that the liver is not still raw. Medium rare is good, but anything less than that could be risky, there are several cases every year of Campylobacter brought about by eating undercooked chicken livers.

While the livers are frying, demolish a slice of bread, crusts removed, in a food processor; or if you want to keep it old school you can grate it.  Tip in the livers and whizz again – old-schoolers can pass them through a sieve or mincer. Season with the spices: I went with a quarter teaspoon each of ground aniseed (you could also use star anise), ginger and cinnamon. Don’t forget the salt and pepper. Give it a final spin in the food processor.  The sauce will be very thick indeed – it should be a spreadable consistency and not in the least pourable. It looked like a big scoop of liver ice cream – except that it was hot! Strange.

Reheat the sauce and add some cider vinegar or lemon juice to taste (or verjuice like in the original recipe – you can buy it online). If it is really thick, let it down with a little water.

#347 Sawce Noyre for Roast Capon. This was a strange one indeed – it was made up of pure liver and was therefore very rich, though when eaten with a big piece of relatively bland chicken it did balance out better. The best way to eat it, it turned out, was to spread it on some bread as those in mainland Europe did. I liked the spice combination a lot, especially the aniseed; I may use it in chicken liver pâté. Aside from that though, I think this one’s left in the history books! 4/10.

#332 Cherry, Plum or Damson Sauce

This is a piquant and rich sauce that is traditionally served with game, venison and tongue that seems very Victorian and English to me – there are many others like it such as Cumberland and venison sauce that came most likely from Germany via the kings (and a queen) of the House of Hanover (Georges I to IV, William IV and Victoria). We don’t really eat much of these sorts of sauces anymore, and we shall see if we should bring them back.
This recipe makes good use of seasonal European fruits: the morello or amarelle cherry (or sour cherry), plums and damsons.
Morello and amarelle cherry trees (Prunus cerasus)are easy to cultivate, and yet it is getting increasingly difficult to find fresh British ones sold at markets, though you can find them frozen or canned pretty easily. The English cherry orchard is a feature of the country declining greatly, mainly because of the competition from cheap imported ones from the Middle East and places like that. The morello cherry was introduced in Britain by the Romans around 50AD and were very popular in Tudor times. Will the English cherry ever return? Because they are so easy to grow and take up little space I shall grow some upon my return to Britain (once I have a garden of course!).

Plums, like the cherry, are of Genus Prunus and there are around 20 species used in several different ways, the species used in Britain is P domestica which is actually a hybrid of two other species. P domestica has been bred into several varieties including my favourite, the greengage.

P domesticus also produced the damson, our third fruit for this recipe. Damsons to me are the most English of all three, though I have never tried them before. I shall have to rectify that.

Here is how to make the sauce, whichever Prunus you lay your hands on.

Stone 8 ounces of morello or amarelle cherries, plums or damsons. You can use canned cherries if you want, just make sure they are in water, not syrup. This is what I used. Put the fruit in a saucepan along with ¼ pint each of red wine and port, a tablespoon of sugar, 2 cloves and an inch-long piece of cinnamon. Bring to a boil and simmer for around 10 minutes until the fruit is nice and tender. If you want, you can sieve the damsons or plums if using, but I think it’s better to leave whole. Now add 2 good tablespoons of redcurrant jelly and the juice of 3 oranges and a lemon. Season with black pepper and, off the heat, stir in an ounce of butter. Taste and add more sugar if needed.

I made cherry sauce and served it with hot tongue.
#332 Cherry, Plum or Damson Sauce. I loved this sauce much more than Cumberland sauce. The rich wines and fruit were only just off-set with the sugar, fruit and spice. Very delicious, you could almost eat it on its own. We should certainly bring it back! 8.5/10.