#366 A Fine Way to Pot a Tongue

Jane Grigson gives this recipe no introduction or explanation, but one can tell from the title that this was an old recipe. It consists of a tongue inside a boned chicken that covered in butter and baked. After a quick sift through the cookbooks, I found that it is adapted from a recipe of Hannah Glasse’s that appears in the 1774 book The Art of Cookery, and the original is a little more ostentatious:

‘Take a dried tongue, boil it till it is tender, the peel it; take a large fowl, bone it; a goose, and bone it…Put the tongue into the fowl; then season the goose, and fill the goose with the fowl and tongue, and the goose will look as if whole. Lay it in a pan that will just hold it, melt fresh butter enough to cover it, send it to the oven, and bake it an hour and a half…this will keep a great while, eats fine, and looks beautiful. When you cut it, it must be cut cross-ways down through, and looks very pretty…’


It resembles recipe #322To Make a Goose Pye.



Here’s Jane’s recipe (in my words):

First of all you need to tackle your pickled ox tongue – you can buy these from your butcher pretty cheaply as I did this time, but you might want to have a go. I usually do this but the butcher didn’t have any fresh (which is understandable seeing as very few people buy them nowadays). Have a look at the post #150 How to Cure Meat in Brine for some guidance on this. Once pickled, you need to poach your tongue for 2 to 3 hours and then peel it. You don’t need to press it or anything, but see #258 Boiled Ox Tongue: To Serve Coldand #331 Boiled Ox Tongue: To Serve Hotfor more information on this.
Next, bone a 5 to 7 pound chicken. This isn’t as difficult as you think. I’ve given instructions already on how to do this in the post #322 To Make a Goose Pye. In fact this is easier because the chicken can be first split down the back with poultry shears or a hefty knife. Of course, you could ask your butcher to do it – you might have to flutter your eyelashes a little though!
Now trim your tongue, cutting off the root to remove gristle and the front portion of the tongue so that it will fit snugly within the cavity of the bird.

Before you fit it, make a spice mix from the following: a teaspoon each of ground black pepper, ground mace and ground cloves plus ½ a freshly-grated nutmeg and a level dessert spoon of sea salt.

Flip the bird over with the cut side facing you and rub in around two-thirds of the spice mix into the cavity, then place the tongue inside and wrap it in the chicken. Quickly but carefully turn the bird over to produce a surprisingly normal-looking chicken. Pop it into a close-fitting ovenproof casserole dish and rub in the remainder of the spices.


Now get on with gently melting the butter – the amount you need will depend upon how well the chicken fits into its pot. I needed four 250g packets of butter in all – that’s 2 ¼ pounds approximately. Once melted, pour it over the chicken so that it just covers it.


Pop on  a lid and bake at 200⁰C (400⁰F); if your casserole is very full, as mine was, it’s a good idea to put a roasting tin on the floor of the oven as the butter will bubble hard. When it is bubbling and boiling, turn the heat down to 180⁰C (350⁰C) and bake until cooked through. After 45 minutes see if the chicken is cooked: use either a meat thermometer (the meat should be a temperature of 73⁰C, that’s 163⁰F) or a skewer and check for any pink juices. If it’s not quite done, bake for another 10 minutes before checking again.
When cooked, gingerly take the chicken out so it can drain on a rack and pour the butter and meat juices into a bowl. Let everything cool before boiling the butter up in a pan – however, make sure none of the juices go in. Put the chicken back in its pot and tip over the butter.


You need to leave chicken for at least 36 hours before slicing it and eating with wholemeal bread spread with the spiced butter. If you want to leave it longer than 36 hours,  add more butter to fully cover the chicken.
#366 A Fine Way to Pot a Tongue… and what a fine way it was indeed!  The tongue was salty and tender with blander spiced chicken that actually balanced it very well. The spiced butter was unbelievably tasty. Three cheers for Hannah Glasse! 9/10


#331 Boiled Ox Tongue: to Serve Hot

I know what Othello needs; more tongue…

There was a time when I would shudder at the thought of eating some tongue, but now because of this blog, I look forward to it. After all it’s just a muscle like any other in the body, and no meat-eater turns their nose up at the muscle bits (although, as an aside, the tongue isn’t like any other muscle in body because it is the only one that isn’t attached at both ends).

In the earlier recipes, I wasn’t so good at boiling meat – I always had too high a flame burning beneath the stockpot. What any meat needs is a nice slow simmer – as slow as possible, the water should be scalding and letting up the tiniest gulping bubbles.

You can buy pre-pickled tongues from any good butcher quite cheaply; when I paid a visit to the butcher back in Manchester, I noticed they were selling them for just £2.50 each! If you want to do it from scratch, I have already written how to pickle an ox tongue (recipe #150) and how to boil and prepare one for Boiled Ox Tongue: to Serve Cold (recipe #258). So all I need to do for this post is tell you what you need to do to eat it hot…

Once it has been skinned and trimmed, Grigson gives her orders: ‘[s]lice the tongue whilst still hot and arrange it decoratively on a large shallow serving dish. Cover with a suitable sauce, boiling hot, place in the oven to heat through for about 10 minutes.

But what sauce? Jane says that the typical English way is to serve Madeira sauce, though strangely she does not give a recipe for it (I shall hunt one down and add it to the other blog in due course…). She does, however, give us an alternative and that is an “unusual” black cherry sauce, but you’ll have to see the next post for that recipe…

#331 Boiled Ox Tongue: to Serve Hot. This has got to be the best tongue recipe so far (there is only one more left) – it was so tender, hardly any chewing was required and the brine give a good, subtle curing. It reminds me of extra-succulent corned beef in fact. I know many turn their noses up at offal, but have a go, it is really good food and I have yet to eat a bit of animals I haven’t liked. 8.5/10.

#292 Isle of Man Salt Duck


After returning from my little trip back to England and Ireland, I wanted to cook something that evoked some memories of it whilst all was still fresh in my mind. There are no Irish recipes in English Food, but there are a couple of Manx recipes (if you are from the Isle of Man, you are Manx). When Hugh and I flew the short distance from Belfast to Liverpool, we looked out the window and he told me about the bits of coastline and other features, and of course the Isle of Man was pointed out, looking surprisingly small. I’ve never managed to go to the Isle of Man, but it looked very pretty from the air.

This is apparently a traditional Manx cured meat dish, but I did a quick internet search and could find any references to it at all, so I can’t give you any background information I’m afraid, Grigsoners. The cure is very simple to do; you simply have to pack coarse sea salt inside and outside of a duck 24-hours before you want to cook it. I assume in the days when this was done for actual preservation of meat, rather than for flavour, the duck could have been cured for several days or weeks. When you are ready to cook it, brush off the salt, rinsing off any tricky to remove bits and place in a pot with enough water to barely cover it.

Cover, bring to a simmer and let it happily gurgle away for between an hour and ninety minutes, depending on the size. I am always worried about doing the boiled meat recipes in the book, I always think they are going to come out insipid and boring, especially in this case as there was no call for any stock vegetables or seasoning with spices. I invited my friends Danny and Eric around to sample the delights – hoping it would taste okay…

If you like, you can cure your duck in brine instead – check out the recipe and instructions on brining meat here.

While the duck is simmering away gently, you can be getting on with the accompaniments: an onion sauce and colcannon (an Irish invention of potatoes and either cabbage or kale mashed together).

For the onion sauce, chop four large onions and add them to a pan with just enough water to cover them, season, cover with a lid, and allow them to simmer for fifteen minutes. Drain them over a bowl, so that the cooking liquor is saved. Add half a pint of milk and just under a pint of the liquor to the pan along with half an ounce of butter and bring to a simmer. Measure two level tablespoons of cornflour and slake it with a little more cold milk and whisk it into the hot sauce; it will thicken instantly. Simmer for a few more minutes so that the cornflour can cook out. Add the onions back to the pan and season with plenty of salt and pepper – very important here to season it very well – plus the grated rind of a lemon. Add more liquor or milk if it becomes too thick. This sauce can be (and was!) made in advance – make sure you keep it covered with a lid or some cling film to prevent a skin from forming if you do.

For the colcannon, boil equal amounts of potato and kale or cabbage together in a pan. Drain, and mash with butter and salt and pepper. If you are feeling extravagant, add a little blob of cream.
When the duck is cooked, make sure you let it rest for about twenty minutes before you carve it.

#292 Isle of Man Salt Duck. I must admit, when the duck was taken out of pan to rest, it did not look that appetizing with its podgy fat and no hint of colour. I’m used to eating roast duck. However, when I cut inside, there was the most tender duck meat within. It was salty, but not overpoweringly. It also had very subtle flavour too, as did the onion sauce, which I expected to be terribly strong. Instead, it was light and very good for a spring or summer meal. The colcannon was a great accompaniment too. This kind of good, but bland food, really requires heavy seasoning, otherwise it is in danger of becoming tasteless pap. This was not tasteless pap however: 7/10.

#265 To Cook Salt Pork and Hams, Part II: to Eat Cold

Living in Texas means that there a lot of Mexican people (seeing as Texas was once part of Mexico, until the USA nicked it). Many Mexicans mean much pork is eaten. In England we eat loads of ham and bacon and sausage, but we’re not very exciting when it comes to other ways of eating it. Indeed this is reflected in English Food: there are just 8 pork recipes in the Meat chapter, yet there are loads of pork in the cured meat section. This is one of them of course – there is a whole variety of pork cuts that are familiar and unfamiliar to me. I saw a small leg and though it would be great to make my own salt pork seeing as I have the brine tub on the go at the moment. I have already done similar things from the book, like the Bradenham ham and the hot salt pork.
Noone seems to cure anything in England anymore – I can understand it of course, but brining meats is much more common here in the US – the Thanksgiving turkey got a good brining the night before from Joan last month. However if there is a cheap leg or loin going spare at the supermarket or butcher, it would be put to good use by being added to the brine tub rather than the freezer until it’s is needed.
You can use leg or loin for this. I have already gone through how to prepare and boil the salt pork or ham in a previous post. When it is cooked remove from the stock and allow it to drain and cool down enough for you to remove the skin without scolding yourself. If the meat has been deboned, then it needs to be wrapped in cling-film and pressed overnight (as I did). Toast some breadcrumbs and press them into the meat. This will be easier if the meat is still warm, though if you had to press it, there is no open than to do it when it is cold. Keep the whole thing wrapped up in clingfilm or greaseproof paper in the fridge and slice it up thinly for salads and sandwiches.
It’s important to remember that when you make these hams, you get a delicious ham stock. Use it to make some pea and ham soup (recipe here).
#265 To Cook Salt Pork and Hams, Part II: to Eat Cold. I think I must be getting better at these things because the salt pork was very moist and nicely salted. The trick seems to be to have the merest simmer when cooking it – in fact I turned the heat off completely for the final half hour; the cooking liquor was hot enough to continue to cooking process. I have been shaving bits of and eating it with mustard, pickles and sourdough bread. Very good! 7.5/10

#258 Boiled Ox Tongue: To Serve Cold

Hello there Grigsoners! No, I’ve not died, I have simply been a lazy bastard. I am going to stop apologising for my blog-tardiness and try my very best to pull my finger out. All that said, I have been preparing this recipe on the sly for the last few days. I went to Central Market with Gerda from the lab a while ago and found that quite alot of the ingredients that are tricky to get hold of in the UK are actually much easier to get hold of here in Texas. In the meat section, I happened upon an ox tongue and I knew that there are quite a few recipes using ox tongue specifically so I thought I’d grab it and do something with it later.

I decided upon this one – Boiled Ox Tongue: to Serve Cold, because I could take it into work and force my new labmates to eat it and (hopefully) put some comments on here! The recipe calls for a 2 ½ to 5 pound pickled (i.e. brined) ox tongue – these you can order form your butcher (in the UK at least). I thought I would pickle it myself using this now tried-and-tested brine method from English Food. The tongue needs 5 to 7 days in the brine tub, but there is no maximum time really – you can’t oversalt anything, because you can soak it in water for 6 or so hours beforehand. It’s recommended you do this with a pickled tongue from the butcher’s shop.



The tongue before brining

 Anyways, after you have soaked your tongue place in a stock pot and cover with cold water or a light stock. Bring it to the boil and skim any scum that appears at the water’s surface. Turn the heat down to the merest simmer. After half an hour, taste the water – if it is horribly salty, thrown the water away and start again. Add some stock vegetables: an onion studded with a couple of cloves and a chopped carrot and celery stick. Add also a bouquet garni and 12 crushed black peppercorns. Allow the whole thing to simmer for a total of 3 or 4 hours (don’t forget to include that first half hour!). The tongue is cooked when you can insert a skewer with ease.

The pressed but unsliced tongue
Remove the tongue from the water and allow it to cool slightly. Peel away the skin and remove any gristly bits from the thick end. The tongue is now ready to be pressed. Coil the tongue and place it in a 5 or 6 inch loose-bottomed cake tin with base removed. If you can’t get hold of one (I couldn’t) you could invest in a proper tongue press. I actually used a straight sided mixing bowl that I happened to have and it worked very well. Place the tin base on top (or something similar) along with a couple of tins of food and allow to cool and press for several hours or overnight. When cool, transfer to the fridge.



When you are ready to eat it, slice it thinly and serve with a salad and some horseradish sauce so says Lady Jane Griggers. If you want to be all Victorian about it ‘press the tongue into a slipper shape, and then decorate it with aspic jelly and bits and pieces’. However, The Grigson goes on to say: ‘I think we have lost sympathy with over-presented food of this kind: it always arouses my suspicious – I wonder what the caterer is trying to conceal.

FYI: the tongue is the only muscle in the body not attached at both ends.

#258 Boiled Ox Tongue: To Serve Cold. I’ve not had much experience of eating tongue, except the kind you get already sliced for sandwiches and always found it a little bit on the tasteless side and have never really cared for it. This was much better, though didn’t pack much of a flavour-punch; which was a shame because when I pulled it hot out of the stock, it smelt absolutely delicious. Perhaps I over-cooked it. Anyways, this tongue was wonderfully tender and moist due to its high fat content and gelatinous qualities. Nice, but I’m not doing back-flips: 5/10.

#243 Spiced Welsh Mutton ‘Ham’

Well hello there! No I haven’t died on you or anything. I’ve just been uber-busy with my thesis writing and hardly had time to do any Grigson-related cookery. Here’s is one that I actually did a couple of weeks ago but haven’t been able to tell you about.

The cured meats from the book have all been pretty successful and this one sounded nice and easy, plus would keep me in butties for the foreseeable future. I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out because we don’t really cure lamb to make ‘ham’ do we? Unless I’ve been missing something all these years.

Anyway, here’s how to make to your spiced lamb ‘ham’:

First of all select your leg of lamb or mutton – you need one that weights about 6 pounds. Place it in a large pot or tub that has a well-fitting lid and rub it all over in a spiced salt mixture for curing. To make the spiced salt, mix together 4 ounces of dark brown sugar, 8 ounces of sea salt, ½ ounces of saltpetre, an ounce each of crushed black peppercorns and allspice berries, plus a heaped teaspoon of coriander seeds. Make sure you rub it in well, ensuring you get down between meat and bone. Keep it in the tub in a cool place and turn it over every day, rubbing in the juices and spices for 14 days.

Then, rinse any excess spices away from the surface of the leg and place in a large pot and cover with water. Bing slowly to a simmer and cook as gently as possible with the lid on for 3 ½ hours. Let the lamb cool in the water for a couple of hours, remove it and, wrap it in clingfilm or greaseproof paper and let it finish cooling under a weight. It keeps in the fridge for ages as long it is wrapped up or kept in Tupperware. Griggers says that if you have a smokehouse nearby that will let you put the cured but uncooked leg in, then do so! I haven’t, so I didn’t!


#243 Spiced Welsh Mutton ‘Ham’. This was a revelation! I do not know why we don’t cure mutton and lamb anymore. Absolutely delicious. The lamb meat was succulent and flaky just like corned beef and the spices cut through the richness of the fat. Best cured meat so far. 8.5/10

#234 Smoked Eel

If you have a nice little independent butcher or fishmonger it’s always worth having a quick nosey to see if they have anything different in. I did this at Out of the Blue – probably the best fishmonger in the North-West, at least when it comes to getting hold of weird and wonderful ingredients like the freshwater eel from a few months ago. Well, this time there was freshwater eel on the shelves in abundance, at least in its smoked form.

There are a few smokehouses that smoke eels in Britain, though the eels themselves are usually brought over from Holland and the surrounding countries due to the fact that are fewer of the beasties to found in British rivers.


This is not a recipe, but really a suggestion by Griggers as to the best way to appreciate smoked eel. As a starter, give each person a three inch section of eel fillet along with some good brown or rye bread and butter, a lemon wedge and perhaps some horseradish sauce. That’s it. Enjoy.

#234 Smoked Eel. A true delicacy; and the best way to treat a delicacy is to eat it in the simplest way possible. The flesh was sweet, succulent and firm, not the soft and slightly gelatinous consistency of smoked salmon which I can find rather off-putting. Don’t be squeamish and get it down yer. Fab stuff 8/10.