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dedicated to the
discussion & revival
of British foodways.

NO.53
SUMMER2017

Mrs. Ayrton’s tomato sauce for roast & grilled meats.

4-6 servings.

The use of tomatoes had become widespread in Britain during the nineteenth century. This sauce is both rich and bracing, and nothing like French or Italian recipes. Its incorporation of bacon and cream is characteristically English. Not recommended for pasta: highly recommended with plain grilled or stuffed lamb chops.


Tomato Engraving- a carrot, peeled, trimmed and diced fine
- an onion, peeled and diced fine
- 1 slice bacon, chopped
- 1 oz unsalted butter
- about 1lb canned Italian plum or peeled fresh tomatoes (the Editor prefers canned Italian San Marzanos), chopped
- 1 oz flour
- splash of Worcestershire
- 1 cup stock of the same meat that you are saucing (chicken, however, is always the default setting)
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream


  1. Fry the carrot, onion and bacon with the butter over medium low heat until the onions clear.
  2. Add the tomatoes, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for about ten minutes.
  3. Stir in the flour, then add the Worcestershire and stock. Return the sauce to a boil, add salt and pepper to taste and the sugar. Then cover and simmer for about half an hour.
  4. Pass the sauce through a food mill or puree with a handheld processor or food processor.
  5. Return the sauce to the pot, heat it through until barely burping, stir in the cream and serve.

Notes:

- The cooking time differs from Mrs. Ayrton’s because her recipe does not give the carrots time to soften: They will not pass through a food mill in her rendition, a rare oversight from a meticulous and overlooked writer. The problem is solved by a food processor, and you want the sauce to keep a tint of fresh vegetable, but we think the timing used here works best.

- The Editor likes the sauce even better with the addition of a little cayenne, hot sauce, dry or Dijon mustard following the stock in Step 3. The Worcestershire also is absent from Mrs. Ayrton’s recipe.

- The original recipe appears in The Cookery of England by Elisabeth Ayrton (London 1974). She also includes a second tomato sauce, based on white sauce and slightly reminiscent of tomato soup. It is not bad. All you do is simmer ½ lb of peeled and seeded tomatoes in a little stock (Mr. Ayrton, however, uses water) until soft, puree them by your method of choice, stir them into about ½ cup of white sauce that you previously have made according to the archived bfia recipe, and bring the pairing to a boil before addind 2 Tablespoons of cream and cayenne to taste.

- An altogether different tomato sauce that showcases our friend the anchovy is a good foil for grilled or broiled naked lamb chops, brushed simply with melted butter and generously seasoned with coarse salt and pepper rather than coated with a crust. This version, derived extremely loosely from the Union Square Café in New York is, perhaps, even more suited to grilled pork chops or beefsteaks than to lamb:

Anchovy Tomato Sauce