“And my lords and lieges, let us all to dinner, for the cockie-leekie is a-cooling.”
Sir Walter Scott, to his dinner guests
Cockie-Leekie, or Cock-a-Leekie, is a very Scottish dish, or so I thought. Apparently it turns up in several versions in Scottish and Welsh cook books and a rather complicated recipe in an English cook book where it is called Hindle Wakes. It appears in English food
, but I haven’t done it yet.
So it is not necessarily exclusively Scottish. It is also not a soup. It’s a good, hearty and simple dish: beef, chicken, leeks and prunes all stewed together. All you need is some slow cooking time. Have a go and make it for a lazy Sunday dinner as I did. It serves at least 6 people:
Start off by placing a two-pound slice of stewing steak in the bottom of a deep stockpot. Cover with water and bring it to a boil slowly, skimming off any scum as it rises to the top. Simmer for an hour and hten season well with salt and pepper. Meanwhile trim three pounds of leeks and tie half of them in a bundle. When the hour is up place them in the pot. Simmer for a further half an hour before adding a whole chicken or capon and sit it on top of the beef (you can use a boiling fowl; if so, add it when you add the leeks). The cockie-leekie now needs to simmer gently for an hour and a half. Twenty minutes before it is ready remove the bundle of leeks and add a pound of prunes. Now slice the remaining leeks up and add those in the final five minutes. Easy.
To serve it, place some beef and a piece of chicken in large bowl and cover with the thick, dark and rich stock. A meal in itself, though I did some boiled new potatoes too.
#225 Cockie-Leekie. Really good food, especially for this time of year when all is miserable and wet outside. This is home-cooking at its simplest and finest. The stock produce from the beef and prunes was lovely and rich, but did not detract from the subtly-flavoured chicken. Really good one this one. 7.5/10.
Whilst perusing the little fishmongers in Stockport, me and Charlotte spotted boiling chickens for sale. This is quite weird as I always keep my eye out for them and never see them, but the day before Charlotte requested Mulligatawny soup, but I said that we couldn’t do that, as we need a boiling fowl for it. Perhaps Charlotte is a lucky charm for the English Food project and me. Like some sort of leprechaun or troll.* I’m glad I now have a supply of boiling fowls as quite a few recipes require them. Good oh.
FYI: the word Mulligatawny comes from the Tamil, an Indian language, and means pepper water, and it came here in the Eighteenth Century.
This makes a big old load of soup, enough for 5 or 6 people:
Begin by chopping the boiling chicken into pieces and brown it in 2 ounces of butter, along with a sliced onion. Now add 1 ½ tablespoons of curry powder – either mild, medium or hot (I went for medium, but added a pinch of chilli powder) – and 8 ounces of yoghurt, plus some salt. Fry all this until the yoghurt reduces and becomes a thick crust on the bottom the pan. Be careful not to let it burn though. Add 3 pints of water and let it all come to a simmer. Cook for around an hour and a half until the meat is falling off the bone. Pick the meat off the carcass and chop it up, if need be, retuning it to the pan and chucking out the bones. This is a good point to leave the soup overnight, so any chicken fat can be skimmed off easily. Melt another of butter in a separate small saucepan and add 4 cloves; apparently, the cloves soften after a few minutes if cooked gently and can be crushed with a spoon. This didn’t happen for me. Hey-ho. Add the juice of lemon and pour the butter mixture into the soup. Season with more salt if appropriate. Serve with some boiled rice and some chopped apple sprinkled on top.
#106 Mulligatawny Soup – 4.5/10. Not a bad soup, but decidedly average. When I first tried I thought it was surprisingly light and refreshing, but then as I tried it again, I decided I wasn’t sure. It sat in the fridge for a bit and I realised I wasn’t going to eat it, so it went off the bin. I think I was disappointed because it wasn’t what I expected. I’ve had Mulligatawny from a tin and was sure it contained some kind of red meat. Flicking through the book, I spotted another soup called Indian Soup, which looks a lot like what I thought Mulligatawny was.