Friday, February 15, 2013

Mutton with Lemons.

I don’t know why we rarely see mutton in the butchers’ shops today. We are offered lamb, only lamb, aren’t we? In past times, the reverse was true, I don’t know when or why the change happened, but I think it has something to do with it being considered wasteful to eat a young animal before it has supplied some worthwhile wool. Whatever the reason, we have now lost our taste for mutton, it seems – people say it is too strong or too tough.

When we do eat roast lamb, or lamb chops, for many of us it would be unthinkable not to have mint sauce alongside. I have asked the question “Why Mint with Lamb” in a previous post, and received some interesting comments. So what would we have with mutton? One of the most common accompaniments was caper sauce. There is certainly a tradition of serving “sharp” sauces with meat, perhaps to counter its fattiness?

I came across a very nice seventeenth century idea the other that is perhaps worth reviving, if only you can get hold of some mutton. It is from A book of Fruits and Flowers (1653.)

To roste a Shoulder of Mutton with Lemmons.
Take a Shoulder of Mutton halfe rosted, cut off most of the meat thereof, in thin slices, into a faire dish with the gravy thereof, put thereto about the quantity of a pint of clarret wine, with a spoonful or two at most of the best wine Vineger, season it with Nutmeggs, and a little Ginger, then pare off the rines of one or two good Lemmons, and slice them thin into the Mutton, when it is almost well stewed between two dishes, and so let them stew together two or three warmes, when they are enough, put them in a clean dish, and take the shoulder blade being well broyled on a grid-iron, and lay it upon your meat, garnishing your dishes with some slices and rinds of the Lemmons, and so serve it.

The book contains a number of home remedies too, which was common in cookery books at the time – administering to the family members’ minor complaints being one of the housewife’s duties. For your interest, here is one of the Medicines made of Lemmons from the book.

To take away the Spots, or red Pimpels of the face.
Take halfe a pint of raine water, and halfe a pint of good Verjuice, seeth it till it be halfe consumed, then whilst it boils fill it up againe with juyce of Lemmon, and so let it seeth a pretty while; then take it from the fire, and when it is cold put to it the whites of four new laid Eggs, well beaten, and with this water annoynt the place often.

Sounds like it would make rather a nice salad dressing, Yes?


Yubbadeb said...

I asked a while ago about mutton here in the U.K.; apparently an abbattoir needs a special, and different license to slaughter sheep.Which costs. So as there is little public demand for mutton (because it is not offered)....
Tescos does have mutton/lamb mix mince, now.

What would a 'warme' be? In what, filled with what, by what? And for how long?
Anyone got any information?

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Yubbadeb. A 'warme' or 'walm' was a boiling, so the liquid was brought up to boiling, then turned down again. Very vague, I know, but anyone at the time would have understood. I have no idea how much time was left between 'warmes'!