Thursday, September 17, 2009

Oxford Sauce.

The “English” sauce today is Oxford Sauce, and it presents an interesting challenge. It is commonly said to be the “traditional” sauce for brawn (specifically Oxford Brawn), yet there is a real dearth of recipes and information on it. The Oxford English Dictionary does not acknowledge it at all, which must be significant surely?

It is particularly interesting that the recipes that do exist for Oxford Sauce often begin with “proceed as for Cumberland Sauce , but ..."  and it does indeed sound almost identical to that port and orange “traditional” sauce. Here is Escoffier’s description:

Oxford sauce: A British sauce of red currant jelly dissolved with port and flavored with shallots, orange zest and mustard; usually served with game.

The earliest recipe I have found so far is from the intriguingly named The Englishwoman in India: information for ladies on their outfit, furniture … , published in 1864. The recipe is not at all similar to Cumberland Sauce however.

Oxford Sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon made mustard
1 saltspoon salt
½ saltspoon pepper
3 tablespoons best salad oil
2 tablespoons strong vinegar.

The next recipe I found was in - of all things, in view of our other insights this week - an American cookery book - Mrs Elliott’s Housewife, published in 1870. The recipe is also unlike Cumberland sauce, and is slightly different from the above as it contains allspice, cayenne, and horseradish as the flavouring agents.

So, my question to you is – how old or commonly used does something have to be to be called “traditional”?

Quotation for the Day.

Americans can eat garbage, provided you sprinkle it liberally with ketchup, mustard, chili sauce, Tabasco sauce, cayenne pepper, or any other condiment which destroys the original flavor of the dish.
Henry Miller.


KT said...

I take issue with the crack about Americans eating garbage! tho it does remind me of my brother in law who used to put sriracha on everything... :)

Jennifer B said...

Oh I'm so glad I happened across this page while trying to find an archive of old NY Times recipes. And even more glad to see a quote from one of my most loved writers ever! Wonderful site!

The Old Foodie said...

Hello Jennifer B - sorry for the belated response but I am still catching up with home stuff after travelling! I hope you come back to the site often!