Even the kitchen adepts amongst you would probably tremble if you were on Master Chef and were asked to ‘smoor’ a rabbit or chicken. You could do it easily though, all of you. ‘To smoor’ is a Scots and Northern England verb meaning ‘to smother’, and several references indicate that it was a useful technique used against one’s enemies – but be reassured, the Master Chef judges do not intend you ‘first sacrifice your rabbit’ by suffocation. It came to have quite a different usage in the kitchen (although the Oxford English Dictionary does not recognise it), where it means to cook slowly in a closed pot. Here is one version of smoored rabbit, from John Murrell’s A New Booke of Cookerie (London, 1615)
To smoore an old Coney, Ducke, or Mallard, on the French fashion.
Parboyle any of these, and halfe roast it, launch them downe the breast with your Knife, and sticke them with two or three Cloves. Then put them into a Pipkin with halfe a pound of sweet Butter, a little white Wine Vergis [verjuice], a piece of whole Mace, a little beaten Ginger, and Pepper. Then mince two Onyons very small, with a piece of an Apple, so let them boyle leisurely, close covered, the space of two howers, turning them now and then. Serue them in upon Sippets.
Quotation for the Day.
Why does man kill? He kills for food. And not only food: frequently there must be a beverage.
Excellent, one learns something every day! Thanks for this post, I have posted your link on my blog.
The verb is still in use today in Dutch, apparently since at least the mid-13th century. Its also used to refer to suffocating fumes, so perhaps its relation to cooking comes from the vapours which form in the pot after prolonged cooking with a closed lid?
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