As I hinted yesterday, I am not going to abandon my new favourite historical cookery book just yet. The book (The Country House: A Collection of Useful Information and Recipes … published in 1866,) has fed another of my addictions – hot sauce. It has no less than six recipes for sauces which contain a generous hit of chilli (in the form of cayenne pepper.)
Hot sauces come in various forms, including ‘devils’ and curries as well as bottled condiments. The British undoubtedly developed their taste for fiery dishes as a result of their colonial activities in India.
The following recipe comes from a wonderful British Colonial cookery book with the full title of Indian Domestic Economy and Receipt Book: Comprising Numerous Directions for Plain Wholesome Cookery, Both Oriental and English, with Much Miscellaneous Matter, Answering All General Purposes of Reference Connected with Household Affairs Likely to be Immediately Required by Families, Messes, and Private Individuals, Residing at the Presidencies Or Out-stations (Madras, 1860.)
Take of green sliced mangoes, salt, sugar and raisins each eight ounces; red chillies and garlic each four ounces; green ginger six ounces; vinegar three bottles; lime-juice one pint. Pound the several ingredients well; then add the vinegar and lime juice; stop the vessel close, and expose it to the sun a whole month, stirring or shaking it well daily; then strain it through a cloth, bottle and cork it tight. Obs.—The residue makes an excellent chutney.
But back to The Country House. My favourite from amongst the sextet of hot sauce recipes is number one, which is interesting because it contains a goodly amount of nasturtium flowers.
HOT SAUCE. No. 1.—A pint of nasturtium flowers (Tropœolum maius), a quart of vinegar, 4 teaspoonfuls of Cayenne pepper, 4 cloves of garlic, and 8 eschalots. Put the flowers, garlic, eschalots, and pepper, into a pickle jar, and pour the vinegar boiling hot upon them, and cover it up for a week or ten days; after which, strain off through a cloth, as you would ketchup. It will improve by being kept a little.
Condiments as an ingredient for condiments seems to be another particular favourite of the British. Other recipes for hot sauce in The Country House include walnut ketchup or pickle, mushroom ketchup, anchovy sauce, and soy sauce. Number five is a bit stingy with the garlic to my mind:
No. 5.—One clove (not a whole head) of garlic, ½ oz. cayenne, 1 dr. cochineal in a muslin bag, 1 table-spoonful of china soy, 4 ditto of walnut pickle, 1 pint of best vinegar; mix all together, let it remain one week, and then bottle for use.
There is an interesting difference between British and American recipes for chilli sauce at this time. The American version is much more likely to be based on tomatoes, as in all three of the versions in Mrs. Cronkite’s Cook Book containing over seven hundred useful and practical recipes for …. (Sacramento, 1885)
CHILLI SAUCE.——Take half a gallon of ripe tomatoes, six onions and six red peppers. Chop them together and add one quart of vinegar, three tablespoonfuls of brown sugar, two tablespoonfuls of salt, two teaspoonfuls each, of ground cloves, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nutmeg. Boil all together for one hour; then strain through a sieve, and bottle for use. This is an excellent sauce, and considered by some, equal to Worcestershire sauce.
CHILLI SAUCE NO. 2.—Take ripe, red tomatoes, scald, peel and boil them to a pulp; when cool enough to handle, rub through a sieve, and to two quarts of the pulp, add one teaspoonful of
salt, and one quart of Chilli vinegar*, when cold it is ready for use. It should be bottled, corked and sealed.
* CHILLI VINEGAR.—Pound one hundred small red Chilli peppers, and pour over them a quart of
white wine vinegar, put it in bottles, cork tightly, and let it stand fourteen days when it will be ready for use.
CHILLI SAUCE NO. 3.—One dozen, large, ripe tomatoes, peeled and sliced, six onions chopped ﬁne, six tablespoonfuls of brown sugar, two tablespoonfuls of ginger, two teaspoonfuls of cinnamon, two of cloves, four of vinegar, one of red pepper. Boil two hours, seal in bottles.
And finally, a chilli sauce that is not a condiment, but a regular sauce for immediate consumption:
Chop a shallot and two chillies (guinea pepper-pod); put them in a saucepan with an ounce of butter, and fry slightly; add two raw peeled and seedless tomatoes cut fine, two pared and sliced green limes, a glass of catawba wine, and half a pint of velouté sauce; stir and reduce to the consistency of a sauce, and finish with two ounces of butter and chopped parsley; boil no longer.
The Franco-American cookery book; or, How to live well and wisely every day
in the year .. Déliée, Felix J. (1884)
I assume ‘catawba’ wine is wine made from the Catawba grape? Help me out here, please, my American friends!
Hugely exciting for a hot sauce maker like me. Thank you!
Affirmative on the Catawba. Doesn't eight ounces of salt in that first recipe sound like an awful lot?
Hi, Janet! Yes, Catawba is a native grape variety from the eastern half of the US. It has a sort of a gamy flavor, but it's been used to make wines for at least 250 years. I'm not fond of it as a wine grape, but it has one advantage in not being so sweet that it makes a kosher-style wine (those are traditionally made from Concord grapes); the wines can be sparkling or still. It grows in the central eastern part of the country, from about Delaware south to the Carolinas, and east as far as the Ohio-Indiana border. The red wines are quite purple; also rose' and that's usually sparkling.
Sorry for the late response to your comments - fitting blog-things in (other than writing posts) can be a challenge some days (weeks!)
Thankyou for the answer to the Catawba question - I do love internet-interaction!
(And I am about to check that salt amount, Say! It does sound like a lot.)
Hi Shay - no typo's on my part this time! the recipe does say 8 ounces of salt.
I'd heard of the catawba fruit in varying dialects in the South in the 1970s. I never understood what it was, or its heritage, or what it was good for except (in my experience) a badly-sugared jam.
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