Tuesday, August 11, 2015

What to do with Cold Mutton (1865)

Cecil Rhodes, the English imperialist and mining magnate who became Prime Minister of the Cape Colony (South Africa/Namibia) in 1890, allegedly said, when asked why he left England “The real fact is that I could no longer stand their eternal cold mutton.”

I remembered this quote while I was musing on writing another post on leftovers. ‘Leftovers’ is a sad word for what is not necessarily a sad phenomenon – indeed, many of us, and I include myself in this – cook with the specific intent of having leftover food. There are other words and phrases for the same concept of course: but ‘scrap cookery’ sounds depressing, ‘secondary cookery’ does not sound first class, and although ‘camouflage cookery’ sounds fun, there is a deceitful edge to it. Then there is réchauffé cookery’ which might sound posh, but is merely pretentious as it is simply French for ‘re-heated.’
The secret to success in re-purposing your leftover dinner is of course, to have good ingredients and a good dish in the first place. I came across an interesting concept the other day in What to do with the Cold Mutton: A Book of Réchauffés. Together with many other approved receipts for the kitchen of a gentleman of moderate income by P.K.S. (New York, 1865.)

As expected, the book includes many recipes for minced leftover mutton, mutton hash, and re-stewed mutton, but it goes one better too, and gives two ways of cooking the original mutton to resemble venison. So, go forth, my friends, and ‘venisonise’ that sheep haunch or loin!

Cut all the outer skin from the meat, which must then be well rubbed with the best olive oil; put it next into a flat pan containing a pint of vinegar, some thyme, parsley, sweet basil, three or four bay-leaves, four cloves of garlic, some whole pepper, three or four cloves, a little allspice, and a tea-spoonful of bay-salt. Place the meat so that the under surface may be in the vinegar, and cover the upper side with slices of onion; every morning turn the meat, putting the surface previously covered with onions into the vinegar, and placing the sliced onions on the side that was in vinegar the previous day. -When four days have elapsed, take the meat from the pan, wipe it dry, and hang it up till the following day, when it may be roasted for dinner exactly as venison is cooked.


Bone a large loin of mutton, take the skin off from the fat, and put the bones and the mutton into a stewpan with an onion, a bit of thyme and parsley, a little whole pepper, and salt; add a pint of red wine, cover the stewpan close, set it over a very slow fire for three hours, then skim off the fat clear from the gravy, and send the mutton to table. Serve with it, in a sauce-tureen, a sweet sauce made with currant jelly melted in a little good gravy.

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