Thursday, June 04, 2015

Posh Stuffed Lettuce (1702)

I recently came across a dish I had never heard of before and want to share it with you. I found it in The New World of Words: or, Universal English dictionary compiled in 1706 by ‘Edward Phillips, Gent.’ No surprise to any of you there, I am sure – you know my penchant for new-old words and names. Here it is:

Dame Simonne, or la Dame Simonne, (in Cookery) a particular way of
Stuffing Cabbage-Lettice.

My first thoughts were, I wonder who Dame Simonne was, and how she became honoured by a dish of stuffed lettuce. My next though was that really, there is not much difference between the various sorts of lettuce and cabbage, culinarily speaking – they are both very versatile and can be interchanged in many recipes, the choice often depending on the desired texture. They are different botanically of course. Lettuce is from the family Asteraceae (the daisy family), and cabbage (and its variants such as cauliflower and broccoli etc) are from the Brassicaceae family.
I am quite sure the following recipe would adapt perfectly to cabbage, if you do not have any big firm lettuce. Stuffed cabbage is generally thought of as a rather economical dish, designed to make the meat go further, but this recipe takes it to a whole new (old) level.

To farce Lettice à la Dame Simonne.
Let headed or Cabbage-lettice be only heated a little in scalding Water, and well drain’d: Then taking the Flesh of roasted Capons and Chickens, mince it with some pieces of Gammon, Mushrooms and fine Herbs: Let all be well season’d, and put into a Stew-pan, with two Handfuls of Bread-crum, and four or five Eggs, according to the nature of the Farce. The Lettice, when stuff’d with it in the middle, must be well tied or sow’d up, and boil’d in good Broth: In the mean while, a good White sauce being duly prepar’d, with several Yolks of Eggs, ao `a ir may not turn, take your Lettice and after thoroughly drain’d ad untied them, put them into this Sauce, to be kept hot. They are usually served for Out-works and sometimes among the Side-dishes.
The Soops of farced Fowls are also garnish’d with the same sort of Lettice: and the Lettice, on Fish-days, are commonly stuff’d with a good Fish-farce, or with Herbs and Eggs.

The Court and Country Cook, by François Massialot, published in 1702

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