Sausages, Steak and Pickling Pork, 1707

Pots in Felbrigg kitchen

Pots in Felbrigg kitchen

Today’s offering from Katherine Windham’s Booke of Cookery and Housekeeping of 1707,  transcribed by my friends Bonnie Lovelock and Roger Sykes, looks at the kind of solid fare suitable for the colder weather. It also introduces a theme that runs throughout her book: how to preserve food in the days before refrigeration.

It’s tempting to assume that wealthy families like the Windhams dined exclusively on exotic dishes. These recipes show a somewhat different picture. There are exotic foods—and some expensive spices to flavour them—but there are also instructions on how to prepare the food that would have been produced on the Felbrigg Estate: mutton, pork, veal, beef, venison and pigeon[1].

To make Sausages[2]

Take ye lean of veal or muton cut it very small with rather a litle more of beefe suet, shread these together, season it with salt, peper, mace nutmeg & cloves, of each a like quantety, yn[3] shread, sweet majerum[4], Time, winter Savory, parsly, & a few slices of each alike, season it to your palet[5], make ym[6] into past with grated bread & an egge, yn make ym into Balls, dip some of ym in a batter made with egg a litle thicke milke, & flower[7] ym

Beefe Stakes

Cut a Rump of Beefe into stakes, hacke[8] ym with ye Backe of a Knife, frye ym with a peice of Butter, chop 2 Anjovis[9], have ready some made Gravy, heat it, put in Mushromes, & cocumbers sliced shake in a peice of Butter rolled in flower, yn put in the stakes for a moment,
to make it Richer Burn[10] ye Butter
make yr gravy strong, with spice onion & Lemon peel

To keep pickle porke, or Bacon

Salt it very well with salt & Bay salt & a litle salt peter[11], let it lye 5 or 6 dayes yn salt it with ye same again, let it lye 10 dayes, yn take it out & drain all ye pickle out, boyle it & scum[12] it well, put in a handfull or two more when it is cold put in yr Bacon, let it stand covered with ye Brine, 2 or 3 times boyling will keep it 1⁄2 a year, yn boyle it again, & it will keep a year, if you have not brine enough, boyle water & salt strong enough to bear an egge[13], & add to it cold, note it must be put down as hard[14] as you can in yr Tub or Jar, the Closer the Better[15]

  1. Aside from wild wood pigeons and stock doves, the walled kitchen garden at Felbrigg still includes a fine eighteenth-century dovecot. In the depths of winter, young doves were one of the few reliable sources of fresh meat.  ↩
  2. Note that they have no skins and use mutton or veal, not pork as is most usual today. They must have been closer to meatballs than anything we would term a sausage.  ↩
  3. yn: then  ↩
  4. majerum: marjoram  ↩
  5. to your palet: to your taste  ↩
  6. ym: them  ↩
  7. flower: flour  ↩
  8. hacke: score  ↩
  9. Anjovis: anchovies  ↩
  10. Burn: caramelise?  ↩
  11. salt peter: Saltpetre (potassium nitrate) used in curing  ↩
  12. scum: skim  ↩
  13. salt strong enough to bear an egge: salty enough for an egg to float, like people do in the Dead Sea.  ↩
  14. put down as hard: packed as tightly  ↩
  15. the Closer the Better: the tighter the better  ↩

About William Savage

Author of mystery stories set in Georgian Norfolk.
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