Sunday, February 19, 2006

The parson’s tongue and other parts.

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.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

the old foodie
in 1960 cooked pressed tongue & roast udder was still being sold in the butchers shop where i worked, as was uncooked tongues & udders, thus housewives still cooked them at home. today they're processed in all forms of sausages as well as pies.
jim

Anonymous said...

the old foodie
as a shop butcher i were still selling pressed tongue & roast udder [hand sliced as thick or thin as you liked]in butchers shops were i worked in 1960. we also sold them whole uncooked for home cooking.
today, as you say they're processed in all forms of sausages & pies
jim

Anonymous said...

In the 1950's my mum cooked cows udder in milk which was sliced and eaten cold in sandwiches. The meat had a soft texture, much like todays luncheon meat, and had a somewhat sweet flavour, I guess due to having been cooked in milk, I can only say that it was lovely then but dont think I would eat it now, - Anne in Plymouth

The Old Foodie said...

Hello Anne - I am sure we eat udder (and snout and tails and ears) regularly in things like sausages and luncheon meats - we just dont know that we eat them!

Sienna Reid said...

In Florence, Italy the udder is a delicacy sold at the local markets and as street food to those in the know. It is served and sold pre-cooked and has a firm consistency of cooked liver. It is pale and looks a bit like a country pate. People who are waiting to buy it have a look on their face like they are getting something that is truly special and that they are glad to be in the know! It is called Poppa in Italy. In the markets everything is sold of the cow- nothing goes to waste and all is used in cooking.

Sienna Reid said...

In Florence, Italy the udder is a delicacy sold at the local markets and as street food to those in the know. It is served and sold pre-cooked and has a firm consistency of cooked liver. It is pale and looks a bit like a country pate. People who are waiting to buy it have a look on their face like they are getting something that is truly special and that they are glad to be in the know! It is called Poppa in Italy. In the markets everything is sold of the cow- nothing goes to waste and all is used in cooking.

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Sienna - I would definitely try udder if I had an opportunity.

Danny said...

I fondly remember eating udder in the North East of England in the 1970s. Thinly sliced, sprinkled with salt and vinegar it was delicious.

Trevor Roberts said...

I regularly ate it as a child growing up in Birkenhead in the 1950s and 60s. There used to be shop selling cooked meats, which included sliced udder, eaten as any other sliced meat, in a sandwich. I moved to London in 1968 and was there for 10 years, working near Smithfield for 3 of those. I never came across it in any of the butchers around the (then thriving) meat market. Selfridges had an offal counter in their food hall but I never saw udder on offer. I eventually moved to the Northeast in 1985 and discovered cooked, sliced udder on sale on a market stall, in Sunderland, selling other cooked meats, tripe and other offal. It tasted just as good as I remembered it. Sadly the stall disappeared some years ago and I've not seen it on offer anywhere since. Perhaps it fell foul of the BSE scare?

Anonymous said...

It was sold in Ellesmere port right up till the mid 70's. I remember it having a pale pink/orange colour and soft texture. My Mam would feed it us as a snack when out shopping along with chitlins or hodge. All were delicious.

Niel Edwards

The Old Foodie said...

Hello Trevor: Thankyou for your personal insights - I love this about the Internet, and about blog comments in particular. I suspect udder fell foul of people's sensibilities, and the general distaste these days for offal!

Anonymous said...

Hola soy El Cubano.
I live in EspaƱa where thankfully I can buy all types of offal in the markets & butchers. The hyper-markets & supermarkets also sell a limited range kndny, heart, liver, lungs, brains, tripe etc.
I returned today with tongues, hodge, kidney & feet which I'm at this moment cooking.
These foods are regularly given as tapas in our bars often to the consternation of foreign visitors.
Is the word jott also used in England for hodge in the west country, Here it is called callos pronounced cal-yos all one word.
Hasta pronto, Ken.