Friday, July 08, 2011

HP Sauce

Yes, the "HP" in "HP sauce" - Britain's famous spicy brown condiment - does stand for "Houses of Parliament", which explains the famous image of the building on the label.  The name was registered in 1895 by Frederick Gibson Garton, a grocer from Nottingham, England. There are a couple of theories about the name, and one day I will try to unravel the truth.

The popular story is that Garton heard that the restaurant in the Houses of Parliament were serving the sauce, and so, quite sensibly, he decided to capitalise on the connection and so re-named his sauce. The other story is that he had purchased the original recipe from a man called Harry Palmer ("H.P") - the original name being "Harry Palmer's Famous Epsom Sauce", and the connection with the Houses was just too good a marketing opportunity.

An alternative truth is that the name was launched in 1903 by Edwin Sampson Moore, who bought the recipe from Garton, for £150 - Garton needing the money to settle some debts. I should mention that a variation of the first variation of the story is that it was Palmer who had the debts, hence his sale to Garton.

See how complicated history is? And we are only talking of a deal made a little over a hundred years ago. I have earmarked this puzzle for future research, but it is at the bottom  of a very long list.
The recipe I have chosen for the day is an example of the ubiquity of commercial sauces as ingredients in British cookery. In this particular recipe it is not HP, but ‘Cre-fydd sauce’ that is the flavour addition. It is from The young housewife's daily assistant: on all matters relating to cookery and housekeeping (1864.)

Braised Fowl And White Sauce, With Braised Beef And Chestnuts.
Procure the following articles: - A fine fowl trussed for boiling, one pound and a half of the upper side of the round of beef, three-quarters of an inch thick, six rashers of ribs of bacon, the third of an inch thick (without bone or skin), butter, milk, a gill of cream, garlic, shalots, one carrot, one head of celery, fifteen chestnuts, two lemons, oil, &c. &c. Mix together a tablespoonful of salad oil, the strained juice of a lemon, a saltspoonful of salt, a saltspoonful of white pepper, a grain of cayenne, a saltspoonful of flour of mustard, the eighth part of a nutmeg, grated, a piece of garlic the size of a pea, bruised, and three tablespoonfuls of 'Cre-fydd Sauce.' Rub this well into the beef, and let it remain (closely-covered) for twenty-four hours. Clean and cut up small, the heart of the celery, the carrot, and two shalots. Put them into a stewpan with an ounce of butter. Lay in the beef, pour over the sauce, and three-quarters of a pint of cold water. Place the fowl upon the beef, with two ounces of butter spread over the breast, and the bacon laid over that. Peel the chestnuts with a sharp knife, and lay them round the fowl. Boil up quickly, baste the fowl with the gravy, then simmer as gently as possible for two hours and a half. Mix a tablespoonful of baked flour into half a pint of new milk; boil ten minutes; add the cream; place the fowl on a hot dish, with the bacon round it, pour the white sauce over. Lay the beef on a hot dish ; pour over the gravy and vegetables; add the strained juice of a lemon, and send both dishes to table immediately.
Note.—If you have no Cre-fydd sauce, use instead a tablespoonful of port wine, a teaspoonful of soy, a teaspoonful of brandy, and a saltspoonful of chutney.

Quotation for the Day.“Be not angry or sour at table; whatever may happen put on the cheerful mien, for good humor makes one dish a feast.”


Marcheline said...

I love. LOVE. HP sauce. Am tempted to call it "Harry Potter sauce" ... because the only thing I love more than HP sauce is Harry Potter.

J.W. said...

Good post! I didn't know anything about HP sauce, but was introduced to it a couple of years ago by the little granddaughter of Scottish family friend. Her favorite sandwiches in the whole world are ham, cream cheese, and HP sauce. Nice to know more about it!

Nigel Britton said...

HP Sauce doesnt stand for Harry Palmer or Houses of Parliament, who says so? the author Nigel Britton who has written an indepth book about the history and true meaning of the acronym HP. Nigel is the great great grandson of Edward Eastwood who financed his nephew Edwin Samson Moore to purchase the land at Aston Cross Birmingham where they built their Midland Vinegar Company.Edwin Samson Moore is also the authors great great grandfather. In 1899 they bought HP sauce from the Nottingham grocer under dubious circumstances. To find the true meaning of the acronym HP and all those involved in its sale and purchase you will have to read "HP SAUCE MY ANCESTORS LEGACY"

Anonymous said...

Nigel Britton's book, HP Sauce My Ancestors' Legacy is available now from all good book shops and online outlets. Published by Author House ISBN 978-1-4817-9703-0 [sc] also available as hardback and e book. A really "Saucy" book far more appetising than 5o shades........

Anonymous said...

HP Sauce My Ancestors' Legacy by Nigel Britton, published by Author House ISBN 9781481797030 available now from all good book outlets and online paper back, hardback, ebook
The definite history of HP Sauce from 1874-2013