#434 To Pot Ham with Chicken

This is a fairly straight-forward recipe from the book that I have only just got around to making as I have never had a situation where I had left over ham and chicken at the same time! In fact, I ran out of patience with myself and manufactured the situation.

This recipe is one of several taken from Elizabeth Raffauld’s 1769 classic The Experienced English Housekeeper. Back then, and right up to the early 20th Century, in more well-to-do houses, cold roast meats were served up for luncheon. The meat was left over from the previous evening’s roast. If the meats had to be kept longer, or eked out, they would be potted, i.e. made into a pâté. Follow this link to see all the potted meat & fish recipes cooked thus far (this is the tenth!).

Jane only gives an abridged version of the receipt, but here it is in full:
Take as much lean of a boiled ham as you please and half the quantity of fat. Cut it as thin as possible, beat it very fine in a mortar with a little oiled butter, beaten mace, pepper and salt, put part of it in a china pot. Then beat the white part of a fowl with a very little seasoning, it is to qualify the ham. Put a lay of chicken, then one of ham, then chicken at the top, press hard down, and when it is cold pour clarified butter over it. When you send it to the table cut out a thin slice in the form of half a diamond and lay it round the edge of your pot.


Jane also updates the recipe: she allows us to use an electric food processor, and she uses already ground mace. She also uses clarified butter to make the pâté, not just to seal it. 


She also suggests letting it sit for a few days before eating it, so that the flavours can develop.


If you’ve never potted your own meat or fish, this recipe is a good place to start. In fact, it more of a system than a recipe, and can be adapted easily for other meats. I’d just add that a smoked ham would work best here – I used a smoked ham hock – and that you should over-season everything ever-so-slightly. If you are using cold meats, add a tablespoon or two of boiling water when blending to produce a nice smooth paste.

At Christmastime, you’re more likely to have left over turkey than chicken and I think it would work just as well.
#434 To Pot Ham with Chicken. Rather a subtle one this one, but no worse for it. Many of the other recipes are quite strongly flavoured, so this is a good introduction. The combination of salty ham and bland chicken is a good one, and it was great spread on toast with a little medlar jelly. As mentioned above, a great way to use up left-over meat at Christmastime. 7/10


5.3: Pork – Completed!

Pigs and pork were – and still are – fundamental to life in Britain, Europe and many other places around the world. So easy they are to look after, and so unchoosy they are in what they eat, that most households kept a pig of their own for food. The family pig would be fed kitchen and table scraps and garden waste, quickly fattening ready for slaughter in early winter.

So dependent were people upon pork, that when folk moved into the cities, they brought with them their pigs to rear. There wasn’t enough space for absolutely everyone to keep a pig, many simply had to get their fix of pork from one of the many city piggeries.

Mediaeval pig slaugher
Pigs were often let out of their pens to have a good old rummage around the vicinity of the household, gobbling up scraps of food and other garbage; very useful in a time when waste wasn’t collected up and taken away like it is today. Inevitably, pigs escaped, and they could be seen on the city streets eating anything and everything they came across. It became a huge problem – they didn’t just eat rotting food, but also human excrement from gutters, as well as the blood and pus collected in barber-surgeons’ buckets. They became feral and ferocious, with reports of errant hogs eating babies! London’s Shepherd’s Bush was particularly overrun.

Saint Anthony
This problem was compounded by the fact that in many cities, pigs came under the protection of St Anthony, Patron Saint of pigs and swineherds. If you were unlucky enough to live in a city where Antonine monks also dwelled, it must have felt it was the pigs’ city not yours. In many households, the runt of the family pig’s litter was named St Anthony’s pig.
It didn’t take people long to realise that if pigs were eating diseased and rotten matter, then the pork from the pigs that we ate in turn would be very poor. Indeed, pork was teeming with parasites such as tapeworm and trichinosis. Parasites love pigs, it seems, and even with our modern hyper-strict food regulations, we have only recently been able to sell pork that can be cooked a little underdone safely.
When Jane wrote English Food in the 1970s, she complained bitterly of the state of pork products in the UK; sludgy sausages made from mechanically-retrieved meat and inert rusk, and grey pork pies were (and still are) standard fayre. However, these foods can be some of the most delicious produce in Britain, and when made properly, we excel. Luckily there are small-scale local butchers everywhere who make their own sausages and pork pies to a high standard, we just have to root them out like any self-respecting hog would.

Making Cumblerland Sausage
Although as a nation we consume a lot of pork, there are just eight recipes in the Porksection of the Meat, Poultry and Game chapter of the book, but this is not because Jane was shirking her responsibilities but because most of the pork we consume is in pie form is cured in some way, therefore most porcine recipes appear in other sections of the book. The mean score for the section is an impressive 8.1 – the second highest score so far – her recipe for #415 Cumberland Sausage is sublime and scored full marks from me, and she introduced me to the delights of #373 Faggots and #336 Brawn

Wrapping faggots in pig’s caul
Jane managed to cover quite a lot of ground in just eight recipes, but it did mean that a few were missed out. If the book were to be reprinted, I’d like to see a few more cuts represented; pork belly, hand of pork, cheeks, chitterlings and pigs’ ears don’t get the look-in they deserve. What’s more, there are no recipes for sausage casserole, pork in cider, pulled pork (a British, not a U.S., invention!), Scotch eggs, pork scratchings, hog’s pudding or a good quality country pâté such as a nice pâté de campagne.

The gruesome initial step of brawn-making
As mentioned already, this section is a very high scorer with a mean score of 8.1 (and a median and mode of 7.5 and 7 respectively). There were no disasters, the lowest score being a 7, with classics such as #415 Cumberland Sausage (which scored full points), #290 Roast Pork with Crackling and #82 Toad-in-the-Hole driving up the final mark.
As usual I have listed the recipes ordered as they appear in the book, along with the scores I gave them and hyperlinks to the original posts.

#433 Stuffed Pork Tenderloin


I hardly ever buy or eat prime cuts these days, going instead for the underused bits and bobs of cows, sheep and pigs, so it’s nice to have the excuse to indulge myself for this blog entry. The tenderloin is the fillet cut of a pig and runs down the length of the spine. These fillet cuts are very tender because the muscle controls the posture of the animal and is not used in high stress activities such as locomotion, toughening it up.

The pork tenderloin is less used in English cookery compared to its cow and sheep equivalents, but I think it is the best value of the three, they are pretty substantial, cheaper by the pound and not as prone to drying out in the cooking process these days now that British pork can officially be served medium.

Jane reckons that the best way to eat this cut is to roast or braise it, so here is her recipe which also involves ham and bacon! A porky trinity and no mistake. There’s also the unusual inclusion of crumbly Lancashire cheese. Pork, ham, bacon and cheese; that’s all of the major food groups, right?
Take two pork tenderloins and trim away any fat and sinew with a sharp knife, should there be any, then slit them lengthways, but not all the way through, so that you can open them out. Now beat them with a tenderiser or a rolling pin until they are much wider and flatter.
Next prepare the ingredients for the stuffing: take two large slices of ham and shred them finely, thinly slice three ounces of Lancashire cheese, then blanch eight sage leaves in boiling water for one minute, then half them. If you prefer, you could strip some thyme leaves and use those instead of the thyme, the bonus there being that no blanching is required.

Scatter the two opened tenderloins with the ham, then the cheese and sage (or thyme). Close and then tie with string and brown them quickly in a little butter.
Now, slice two large onions and scatter them on the base of an ovenproof dish and lie the tenderloins on top. Adorn them with two rashers of streaky bacon each, then pour over a quarter of a pint of brown sherry, Madeira or port.


Roast for 45 minutes at 190C.

Remove the tenderloins and keep them warm. Strain the juices and reduce them in a pan if you wish – I found there was no need, but it did need a seasoning with salt and pepper.
Remove the string from the tenderloins and serve immediately with the sauce and some seasonal vegetables.


#433 Stuffed Pork Tenderloins. Well this was a good one, though I did mess up a little bit as I forgot to beat out the tenderloins, and to tie them, AND to brown them in butter. Nevertheless, it was still delicious, though a little dry (probably because they weren’t tied up). Oh well, I can’t be expected to be perfect all the time, now can I? I’d certainly recommend you give it a go, though I’d check them after 30-35 minutes to see if they are done. The sauce – like most of Jane’s – was delicious. I give it a solid 7/10.

#415 Cumberland Sausage

Unlike other sausages, Cumberland sausages are not made into links, but are allowed to form large coils. You can buy whole coils to fry or bake for a family dinner, or buy lengths of it.  In Richard Woodall’s butcher shop in Waberthwaite, he would measure out yards of sausage using two drawing pins stuck on his counter. Amazingly the shop is still going strong over eight generations!

For me, the Cumberland is the quintessential English sausage; highly seasoned with salt, black pepper, herbs and spices. It shouldn’t have much else added to it, other than a little rusk or bread to soak up the fat. They have been made like this for centuries. Indeed, all sausages were made as one long coiled piece, until the addition of links was introduced in the early seventeenth century. The meat should be coarsely chopped or minced, not like your typical bizarre and homogenous cheap supermarket sausages that are ‘a bland, pink disgrace’, as Jane puts it.

A Cumberland ring is fried or baked, often secured in shape with two skewers before cooking.  It is commonly served as part of a breakfast. Jane mentions that at Rothay Manor, it is served with bacon, tomato, fried egg on fried bread, apple, black pudding and mushrooms; surely the breakfast of champions! It can be served with mashed potatoes and peas, or with a stew of green lentils and bacon cooked in red wine.

To make sausages, you need some natural sausage casings, which you can buy very cheaply from any butcher who makes his own sausages. Often he’ll give you them for free. They are very easy to prepare. All you need to do is soak the in cold water for an hour to remove any salt, find an end (this is quite tricky, as they are very long and not too dissimilar to tapeworms!) and carefully fit a funnel into it to rinse out the insides of the skins with more cold water. Once the water as run all the way through, the skins are ready to use, so pop them in the fridge until needed. Any unused skins can be kept in the fridge for four weeks. For these sausages you’ll need hog casings.

First of all, prepare your meat ready for the mincer by cutting the following into strips: one pound of boned shoulder of pork, 6 ounces of pork back fat and half (yes, half!) a rasher of smoked bacon.

Pass all of these through the mincer using the coarse blade, then again using the medium blade. (I have no medium blade, so just used the coarse one again.)

Using your hands, mix all of these together in a bowl along with an ounce of white breadcrumbsand a quarter teaspoon each of ground nutmegand mace. Season with salt and pepper. I used a teaspoon of salt in all and was pretty heavy on the pepper too. Curiously, Jane does not add any herbs to the mixture, but if you wanted to, dried sage or marjoram are typical.

Now it is time for the fun and games: filling the sausage skins. To do this, I used the sausage stuffer attachment for my Kitchen Aid. The amount of sausagemeat made here easily filled a single hog casing (each one is at least 3 yards/metres long, I reckon).

Prepare the sausage skins as described above. Take one and slide it over the funnel of the stuffer, tying a knot in the end. Now feed the sausagemeat through the machine and into the casings. Here, you need to grasp the sausage as it comes out so that it fills the skin properly making no major air bubbles. This is tricky to do if you are simultaneously feeding the machine with sausagemeat, so an extra pair of hands will come in useful.

As you make more and more sausage, let it land upon a plate to form the characteristic coil. When all the meat has been stuffed into the skin, cut and knot it, leaving some slack for expansion when cooking. Chill the sausage overnight (which I forgot to do, in my eagerness, making it rise up in the centre when in the oven).

Now you can fry the sausage in a pan, turning it over at half time. Alternatively, bake in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes at 180⁰C, pricking the skin before it goes in. Of course, you don’t have to cook the whole thing at once; you can cut lengths off it and fry those up instead.

#415 Cumberland Sausage. This was absolutely delicious, and quite simply the best sausage I have ever eaten! With something simple like this, it is all in the seasoning and the half-rasher of bacon worked wonders in that department. Who’d have thunk it, a real bona fide secret ingredient!? This, along with the freshly-ground pepper and the warming mace and nutmeg, made such a winning combination, that I have been making vast amounts of sausages, sometimes for frying up, or sometimes for sausage rolls. I cannot gush any more than this: 10/10

#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.
 

#336 Brawn or Headcheese

At Christmas time, be careful of your fame,
See the old tenant’s table did the same;
Then if you would send up the brawner head,
Sweet rosemary and bays around it spread.
William King, Art of Cookery 1709

Brawn, which is also known as headcheese or pork cheese, is essentially a terrine made from the head meat of a pig. All European countries have their recipes for it and appeared sometime during the Middle Ages as a peasant food where the head would be boiled to make a soup. Not that many people seem to eat brawn anymore in Britain, but it seems pretty popular still in America, maybe because of the influence of so many European countries there.
Sports Fan: Queen Elizabeth I
In 1571 Queen Elizabeth I breakfasted on “brawn, mustard and malmsey” on one of her Twelfth Days, so it had obviously reached higher status since its invention. It might interest you to know that after her breakfast in the hall, she watched some hounds kill a fox and a cat beneath the fire for sport and later, during the Twelfth Night play, a fox was let loose so that it could be chased by dogs.
The word headcheese baffled me a little. Where does it come from? Obviously, brawn is nothing like cheese in appearance or taste, but then  I found this recipe from The Compleat City and Country Cook by Charles Carter, dating back to 1732 which seems to solve the mystery:

A Hog’s Head Cheese Fashion.
You must bone it and lay it to cleanse twenty-four Hours in Water and Salt, and scrape it well and white; lay Salt on the Inside, to the Thickness of a Crown-piece and boil it very tender; then lay it in a Cheese-Press, cover it with a Cloth, and when cold it will be like a Cheese; you may souse it.
Brawn is a great thing to make ahead of time for a meal, but beware you don’t make it too soon; most of the references I found to headcheese concerned food poisoning. The problem with jellied stocks is that they are the perfect food for microbes; indeed we essentially use stock in the laboratory to grow many microbes. You don’t want to use brawn, or any kind of stock more than three days since it was last boiled.
First of all you need to order half a pig’s head from the butcher, you want the tongue too, but not the brains. Ask him to chop the head into two or three pieces for you (I learned my lesson when attempting to chop that lamb’s head in twain with a now blunt meat-cleaver and a hammer a month or two ago). Whilst you are there get yourself two good lengthy pig’s trotters and ask him to chop those in two aswell. Lastly, you need a pound of shin of beef with the shin bone too.
Bundle your meaty horde back home and if you can put the pig bits (not the cow bits) in the brine tub for a day, or at least an evening. See this post right here if you want to try and make your own brine.
Place the meat in a large stockpot, cover with water and slowly bring to a boil. This slow rate of temperature increase is important in order to achieve a nice, clear jelly because the albumin proteins are let out from the meat at a steady rate, which becomes grey scum that floats to the top. Fast boiling makes a murky, grey stock. Skim the grey scum until it runs white and then add the stock vegetables and aromatics: 2 chopped cloves of garlic, a good sized bouquet garni, 10 black peppercorns, 2 tablespoons of red or white wine vinegar, a teaspoon of salt, 2 onions that have both been studded with 2 cloves, 2 quartered peeled carrots and 2 leeks that have been split lengthways. Phew! Bring back to the boil, then cover and simmer very gently for 2 to 2 ½ hours.
When the meat is tender and can be parted from the bones, extract the head and get on with the task of rifling through the head to find all the meat. When cooked, this is not the gory task it may sound. Leave the stock simmering as you do this, adding back any bones to the pot as go along. You should find a good amount of meat with a good variety of colours and textures. Chop the meat into good-sized pieces and cover, adding a ladleful of stock so they don’t dry out.
Strain the stock through a sieve lined with muslin into another pan and reduce the stock to concentrate both the flavour and the gelatine extracted from the bones. Put the meat back in the pan with the stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Season with more salt, if required, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Meanwhile boil three eggs and chop some parsley, chives and chervil.
Now it is time to assemble the whole thing. Start by lining a loaf tin with some cling film – you don’t have to do this step, but it will make it easier when it comes to turning out the brawn onto a serving plate. Next, spoon in stock and meat until you have filled up to just under half way.
You need a good balance of jelly and meat, our Grigson says: ‘you don’t want the brawn to look mean. On the other hand, if the meat is too solidly packed, the brawn becomes too heavy to be enjoyable.’ Sprinkle in half the herbs and line up your hard-boiled eggs.
Sprinkle over the remainder of the herbs and fill the tin with more stock and meat. Let it cool and then set it fully in the fridge, covered with more cling film. When it is time to serve the brawn, turn it out onto a serving plate and press onto it brown, toasted breadcrumbs.
Serve with wholemeal or rye bread and butter, mustard and salad. Alternatively, swap the bread and butter for some mashed potatoes. I went with the bread option as I couldn’t imagine cold jellied meat with mashed potatoes to be in any way delicious.
#336 Brawn or Headcheese. I have to admit when I turned it out onto the plate it looked like a giant slab of dog food. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The meat was very flavourful and tender and the jelly, very soft, was very nicely flavoured with the infused flavour of the herbs. As much as I enjoyed it, I’d much prefer a nice simple paté as a starter, nevertheless, I reckon it deserves  7/10.

#312 Pork Pie

Provocative of indigestion as that pie may seem to you, it was put together by a lovely cousin at Melton Mowbray, whose fair hands are equally skilful in rendering a sonata of Beethoven, or in compounding the gastronomic mysteries of the kitchen.”
Excerpt from Dialogues of the Living – Table Talk by J Hollingshead,
appearing in The Train magazine, 1857

The pork pie is the ultimate raised pie in England and the best come from Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, a very old English town, founded around the 8th Century. The Melton Mowbray hand-raised pork pie attained Protected Geographical Indication status in 2008 – this means that only pies made within Melton Mowbray can proudly bare the town’s name. If you buy a pork pie that doesn’t bear the name, then it is not the real-deal. Unfortunately, Cornwall missed the boat in getting their pasties recognized by the EU, so a Cornish pasty can proudly bear the Cornish name, when it was actually baked in Milton Keynes or whatever.

The Olde Pork Pie Shoppe –
the best place to buy a proper Melton Mowbray pork pie

So what makes a Melton Mowbray pork pie special, other than the location it was made in? Well, first they should be hand-raised, second the pork inside should be uncured and the bacon unsmoked. There is also a secret ingredient: anchovy essence. Anchovy essence is not widely available these days, but it is possible to find it. In America, you’ll have to order some from Amazon. You could cheat of course by using some nam pla – Thai fish sauce. There is no difference between them at all. Don’t be put off by this, the sauce gives the meat a delicious seasoning. In fact it is quite common to use anchovies in this way with lamb, and oysters are great in a steak and kidney pudding. We have stopped combining our fish and meat these days, yet have no issue when we eat them together when we order dishes from a Far Eastern restaurant. Strange.

The main difficulty for anyone who may want to attempt this recipe in the USA is not finding the anchovy essence – oh no – it is the unsmoked bacon that is the tricky customer. I hunted high and low for it when I was in Houston, but I never found wet-cured, unsmoked back bacon. I assumed that if I wanted to make a pie whilst living in the States, I would simply have to wet cure my own. However, at a Farmer’s Market in Chicago, I happened upon a stall selling not only unsmoked back bacon, but also traditional British sausages. The stall is run by an English chap, who coincidentally comes from Leeds too, called Nicholas Spencer. Check out his website here. He said he’ll be doing mail order soon, so I am looking forward to that.


Anyways, if you want to have a go at making your own traditional pork pie you need to get planning! It is quite an effort, though very good fun. I’ve already posted about making raised pies. In brief (with links) you need to get three things ready: hot water pastry for the raised crust, a jellied stock, and the filling itself. I’ll provide you with the recipe for the pork pie filling here…

First of all prepare the pork. You will need two pounds altogether  – boned weight. You need a cut of pork that is around one-quarter fat, so go for shoulder, leg or ribs. Make sure you get the bones form the butcher so you can use them in your jellied stock. Also at the butchers, get yourself an eight ounce pack of unsmoked back bacon. When you get home, chop the meat. Keep the best bits chunky, in around a centimetre dice, the other bits, chop finely. This is a bit of an effort, but it is this chopping – rather than mincing – that gives you the proper texture. Also, chop up two rashers of the bacon. Into a bowl, put in your chopped meat and mix in the following: a teaspoon of chopped sage, a teaspoon of anchovy essence and half a teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Lastly, season well with salt and pepper. If you want to check the seasoning is correct, take a small amount of the mixture and fry it. Taste and correct accordingly.
When it comes to putting the pie together, use the remaining bacon to line the raised pie crust, add the mixture, packing it in well.

Cover with a pastry lid and finish it off, following the method in the raised pies post.

What should one eat with a pork pie? These pies are great for buffets and picnics, so eat whatever you are serving at your buffet or picnic… Personally, I like some nice brown HP sauce or maybe tomato sauce. Some like to warm the pies and have them with mushy peas. I have been eating mine with the preserved spiced oranges I recently cracked open – a really good combination that.

#312 Pork Pie. It seems you can never be let down by these raised pies. This one was great: the mild herbs and spices gave  the meat a subtly complex flavour. The idea of a cold meat pie feaked a few people out at work, and  suppose the jelly is something you either love or hate. I have been eating the pie slowly over the last few days, and it seems to get better as it ages. Very good, not quite as delicious as the Veal, Ham and Egg Pie, but still pretty tasty. 8/10.