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18th Century recipes – Main meal

Posted on: December 1st, 2015 by hauleymusic No Comments

Mutton Hams
To dry a leg of mutton like ham: 
Cut it like a Ham and take 2 oz. salt-petre and rub the Mutton all over and let it lie a day and make a Pickle of Bay Salt and spring water and put the Mutton in and let it lie 8 days and take and hang it in a chimney for 3 weeks, and then boil it till it is tender. The proper time to do it is in cold weather. [1]

Asparagus Dressed the Italian Way:
Serves 6
About 60 stems fresh asparagus
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 egg yolks
about 5oz/150g/ 2/3 cup butter, flaked


Take the asparagus, break them in pieces,

then boil them soft and drain the water from them;

take a little oil, water, and vinegar, let it boil,

season it with pepper and salt,

throw in the asparagus and thicken with yolks of eggs

the Spaniards add sugar, but that spoils them.

Cut any woody ends off the asparagus stems and scrape the white parts if needed.

Tie the stems in bundles with all the heads at one end and trim the stem ends level.

Put a pan of lightly salted water on the stove and stand the bundles upright in the pan so that the stems are almost covered; only the heads should be above water level.

Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Then lay the bundles flat in the pan and simmer for another 5-10 minutes until the heads are tender.

Drain thoroughly. (Small, thin asparagus or sprue cooks in 5 minutes.)

When they are ready, cut the tender green heads and stems of the asparagus into 1 inch/2.5cm pieces, and keep warm in a serving dish.

In a small pan, boil the vinegar and 1 ½ tablespoons water until reduced to about 3 tablespoons. Cool slightly.

Beat the egg yolks until liquid in a heatproof bowl, then stir in the vinegar.

Place the bowl over simmering water and stir until the mixture thickens.

Gradually whisk in as much of the butter as the egg sauce will hold without separating, sprinkling in a little salt and pepper as you do so.

The sauce should be thick and quite sharp to the palate. Serve it over the asparagus while still warm. 

(1) Black, The Jane Austen Cookbook, p. 115