The online magazine
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of British foodways.

NO.51
WINTER2016

A Number of Revivals & Reinventions,
featuring Oxtail and Treacle

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in the practical

A nineteenth century recipe for beef boiled in beer and treacle from Elisabeth Ayrton.
This is a North Country recipe from the early nineteenth century. The tradition in the household was that the dish had been prepared in the past by their parsimonious ancestors for the hay-making supper for tenants, because part of an old ox that had been kept to work all winter could be used, since the beer helped to tenderize the meat. The tenants liked the taste of the beer and considered the dish a grand one.

 Victor Gordon’s fried barley from The English Cookbook.
“Delicious, “as Gordon asserts, ‘with chops, steaks, sausages.” About four portions.

Devilled pork chops from Victor Gordon’s English Cookbook.
Gordon took as his brief the creation of a new English cuisine lighter and fresher than traditional preparations while also remaining true to the character of what he liked to call insular cooking. This recipe, however, might have emerged from and eighteenth century clubland kitchen or gentry estate. It is none the worse for that.

Imperial swine.
“This heroic dish is,” Victor Gordon maintains in The English Cookbook, “suitably inappropriate for the tropical climes of colonial man and altogether comforting in lands where winter can begin in August and end in July.” He has a point, but this impressive roast would be welcome on all but the more sweltering days of Spring and Fall as well. It is a lot easier to prepare than the long list of ingredients may indicate.

An “utterly inauthentic” maritime kedgeree.
Freddie Hoffman, the father of flamboyant Roxy Beaujolais, who provides the quoted description of the dish in Home From the Inn Contented, served aboard a minesweeper where, according to his daughter, he “first mastered his dish.” It substitutes a shipboard staple, canned tuna, for the customary smoked haddock and represents a more than handy larder dish. The sophistication of the dish is deceptive: Its big pool of citrus counterbalances the butter and oil with a certain élan.

Oxtail stew with clove and orange.
Another Beaujolais recipe, this one borrowed from her mother. It eschews wine out of economy, which not only Anglicizes the dish but also allows it improvement with the clove and orange. You will want two days to prepare your stew for four diners.

Mulled artichokes
Ingredients that may appear incongruent together to Americans, and many English people for that matter, form a harmonious whole steeped in the British culinary tradition but skewed a bit by his late twentieth century effort to create lighter, fresher “new English” foods arising from past practices. “Mulling,” he maintains, is a flexible and challenging new treatment for vegetables.”

Oxtail brawn derived from a Victor Gordon recipe.
It is unclear how he considered brawn (the uglier American term is headcheese) an analogue to anything French, but we should be grateful he did. “Better than pig’s head brawn,” as Gordon claimed. The recipe is not at all difficult but requires at least two days.

Devilled shrimp sauce.
In The English Cookbook, Victor Gordon is a staunch defender of devils. He includes no such advocacy in Prawnography, his alphabetical encyclopedia of shrimp preparations. He does, however, offer his readers a number of ways to devil shrimp, including this alternative to ketchupy cocktail sauce.

An Upper Peninsula pasty from Jacob Taylor of Marquette, Michigan.
The recipe appears in The Mad Feast, a madcap tour of American culinary practice and tradition, by Matthew Gavin Frank. It was given to him by Jacob Taylor of Marquette, Michigan. Unfortunately Frank has given us no other information about Mr. Taylor. His recipe is a good one.

Victor Gordon’s “essential salamagundy.”
Salamagundy, a composed salad of meat with or without fish, egg, fruit, vegetables and pickles, dates to the middle ages when it was immensely popular. The combination of ingredients not commonly united by the twentieth century is intensely Medieval.

Victor Gordon’s “trout and berries.”
This assembly rally is smoked trout in a complex, sweet and piquant sauce composed of bedrock English elements. The use of gooseberries to sauce oily fish is ancient, the alternative blackberries also traditional but not old.

Watercress terrine
Watercress terrine is one of Victor Gordon’s examples from The English Cookbook of a traditional concept transformed into a lightened ‘new English’ dish, something inventive as well as recognizably British. It relies on cullis, a brothy sauce widely employed by British cooks at least as early as the seventeenth century. The cullis for this recipe is itself one of Gordon’s innovations, for while watercress is a quintessentially English ingredient it was not one commonly used for such a sauce. You will need four ramekins to hold four starters.

the practical archive

No.50, Fall 2016
A Number of Eccentrics & Eccentricities featuring Hybrids
No.49, Summer 2016
A Summer Number of Sandwiches and Soup,
featuring Enquiries into Origin
No.48, Spring 2016
A Northern Number
No.47, Winter 2015
A Wintry Number featuring Cambridge
No.46, Fall 2015
Our Fifth Anniversary Number, Featuring Figures Past and Future, and Ketchup
No.45, Summer 2015
A Number of Bloomsbury Fancies -
Culinary, Erotic & Otherwise
No.44, Spring 2015
A Sort of Archeological Number
No.43, Winter 2014
Our First Scottish Number
No.42, Fall 2014
A Number of Savory Pies for Fall
No.41, Summer 2014
Our First Foray Toward the Foodways of India
No.40, Spring 2014
An Eighteenth Century Interlude
No.39, Winter 2013
A Winter Number featuring
More Curious Cuisine and Holiday Cheer
No.38, Fall 2013
A Meandering Fall Number, With Curious Questions and, Perhaps, Curious Cuisine
No.37, Summer 2013
An Eclectic Summer Number featuring a Forgotten Champion and More Musings on Madeira
No.36, Spring 2013
Our First Quarterly Number, featuring
a Vanished Ireland and Worcestershire
No.35, Feb 2013
A Wintry Number of Soups & Stews
No.34, Mid-Winter 2012
Our Third Holiday Number
No.33, Nov 2012
Our Second Preservation Number
No.32, Oct 2012
The Philadelphia Story
No.31, Sep 2012
Sandwiches, Salads and Spitalfields
No.30, Jul/Aug 2012
Oystermania and A Riverine Expedition
No.29, Jun 2012
The Oyster Number
No.28, May 2012
Another Spring Number Featuring
the Poetry of Ronald Johnson
No.27, Apr 2012
A Chicago Number Featuring Pies
No.26, Mar 2012
Our First Irish Number
No.25, Feb 2012
A Preservation Number
No.24, Mid-Winter 2011
A Number of Classics for the Holidays
No.23, Nov 2011
Our Second Thanksgiving Number
No.22, Oct 2011
A Dairy Number
No.21, Sep 2011
O! Canada - A Number Devoted to
North Atlantic Foodways
No.20, Jul/Aug 2011
Another Caribbean Number, featuring Jamaica
No.19, Jun 2011
A First Caribbean Number, featuring Barbados
No.18, May 2011
Our First Nautical Number
No.17, Apr 2011
The Hardship, War & Austerity Number, Part 2
No.16, Mar 2011
The Hardship, War & Austerity Number, Part 1
No.15, Feb 2011
The Food of the People
No.14, Jan 2011
Our Customary January Supplement
No.13, Dec 2010
Our Inaugural Holiday Number
No.12, Nov 2010
The Thanksgiving Number
No.11, Oct 2010
A First All Hallows Number
No.10, Sep 2010
A VictoEdwardian Number
No.9, Jul/Aug 2010
The Midsummer Number
No.8, Jun 2010
Britain and the American South
No.7, May 2010
A Second Seasonal Number
No.6, Apr 2010
A Seasonal Number
No.5, Mar 2010
The Bristolian Number
No.4, Feb 2010
The Elizabeth David Number
No.3, Mid-Winter 2009
The Killjoy Number
No.2, Nov 2009
The Charcuterie Number
No.1, Oct 2009
The Launch Number