Today, February 17th …
Parson James Woodforde needs no introduction to readers of The Old Foodie. The clerical diarist was still at Oxford on this day in 1763, and wrote:
“I dined at the Chaplain’s table with Pickering and Waring, upon a roasted Tongue and Udder…N.B. I shall not dine on a roasted Tongue and Udder again soon”
Tongue and udder were both common items of diet at the time and the good Parson ate tongue regularly over the next forty years, so it must have been the udder that was the problem. Samuel Pepys certainly enjoyed it a hundred years earlier:
“Mr. Creed and I to the Leg in King Street, where he and I, and my Will had a good udder to dinner.”
Udder must have been more prized than other bits of offal, judging from the royal household ordinances of 1474, as “uthers” (and ox-feet) were excluded from the perquisites of the “purveyors of beeves and muttons”, who got to keep the heads and “entrayles” of the beasts they supplied.
Not ever having knowingly eaten udder, I can only surmise that its texture is on the soft side, as many recipes call for it to be pressed through a sieve and used in forcemeat. It was often included in the filling of “great pies” along with cock’s combs, lambstones, beef palates and other delicacies. Perhaps it still is included in pies, and we are regular udder-consumers - the legal definition of “meat” in regard to pie-fillings is terrifyingly broad and vague.
If you are curious, your friendly neighbourhood purveyor of beeves might source you an udder, and you can try Gervase Markham’s recipe (1683), which sounds good enough for guests.
To roast a Cows Udder
Take a Cows Udder, and first boyl it well: then stick it thick all over with Cloves: then when it is cold spit it, and lay it on the fire, and apply it very well with basting of sweet Butter, and when it is sufficiently roasted and brown, then dredge it, and draw it from the fire, take Venegar and Butter, and put it on a chafing dish and coals; and boyl it with white bread crum, till it be thick: then put to it good store of Sugar and of Cinnamon, and putting it into a clean dish, lay the Cows Udder therein, and trim the sides of the dish with Sugar, and so serve it up.
On Monday: From health food to snack food.