Thursday, February 11, 2010

Inky Pinky.

My current favourite phrase for using up leftovers is ‘repurposing food’ (my previous favourite was ‘secondary cookery.’) A large part of the skill involves disguising the original ingredient by creatively naming the new-from-old dish, and I came across a lovely example the other day. It is ‘Inky-Pinky’, and I want to share it with you.

I discovered Inky-Pinky in an article in an English newspaper - The Leeds Mercury - of October 1879. The article was in the Household Department of the paper, and the subject was ‘gathering up the fragments’ – fragments of cold meat, that is. Just before a recipe called ‘Encore Roast Beef’ was this gem:

Inky-Pinky is simply cold roast beef or mutton hashed. Do it as follows:- Slice down some boiled carrots, likewise the cold meat, adding a small onion or two, and pepper and salt to taste. Simmer all these in a gravy made from the bones and trimmings of the beef, thicken with a little flour, and serve with a border of nicely mashed potatoes. The carrots should be put on in advance of the beef, which only requires to be thoroughly heated. Season with catchup if liked.

An almost identical recipe appears in another 1870’s source - Cassell’s Dictionary of Cookery. The name of this dish greatly intrigues me. If the phrase has been around since at least the 1870’s, what does the Oxford English Dictionary have to say about it? 

The OED gives inky-pinky (or inkie-pinkie or hinkie-pinkie) a Scottish origin and defines it as ‘small beer’. No mention of leftover roast beef or mutton. That it is indisputably Scottish is supported by Mr. Google – although he usually turns up the meat version.

I went therefore to the Dictionary of the Scots Language, and again, it gives several quotations to support the definition of small beer – then, suddenly, in 1827, in that marvelous Scottish cookery resource, the Cook and Housewife’s Manual by Mistress Dods (aka Christian Isobel Johnstone), there is a recipe for repurposing leftover roast beef with carrots and gravy! OED editors please take note.

Perhaps the beer version got its name on account of its colour or taste? I would love some ideas or wild guesses as to how this name got transferred to a dish of leftover roast beef – so please, go right ahead and comment!

Quotation for the Day.

As to those things called hashes, commonly manufactured by unwatched, untaught cooks, out of the remains of yesterday's repast, let us not dwell too closely on their memory, - compounds of meat, gristle, skin, fat, and burnt fibre, with a handful of pepper and salt flung at them, dredged with lumpy flour, watered from the spout of the tea-kettle, and left to simmer at the cook's convenience while she is otherwise occupied.
Christopher Crowfield (Harriet Beecher Stowe) ‘House and Home Papers’ (1865)


Elizabeth said...

My new favorite term is rechauffe. Recently learned that term in the book Food and Cooking in Victorian England.

SometimesKate said...

Perhaps people were using beer to boost flavour in the gravy part of the hash?

The Old Foodie said...

That's a good theory Kate; it is a bit odd to have a beer and a meat dish with the same odd name, isnt it?

Tessakib said...

I actually googled inky pinky to find out what it was because I found it listed in a novel by Diana Gabaldon, "A Breath of Snow and Ashes". Chapter 54 has a rather interesting list of foods eaten by Scottish people, inky pinky being one of those listed. Diana Gabaldon strives to incorporate as much historic accuracy and detail as possible in her books. The book doesn't say what is in each dish, however.

mkposhfan said...

Yes, I read that too; I wish Gabaldon.would say where she gets some of these dishes from - maybe she could produce a Highlander cookery book some time

Bec Maher said...

I've also just jumped online after reading about it in A Breath Of Snow And Ashes. While I haven't seen any recently, I do remember seeing a couple Highland recipes appearing on her Facebook page a while back...