Many of us are diving into recipe books and blogs right now to find delish things to make for guests or tote along to other people’s Christmas parties.
How lucky we are that 21st-century food offers so many rich and savory delights. It wasn’t like that for our ancestors – for instance, anyone care for a bowl of sheep’s head broth?
It gets a mention in my novel Scarlet & Magenta – now out on Kindle – because I read that sheep-skull soup often appeared on family dinner tables in Victorian times. But it was only the other day that I stumbled over a recipe. Today’s fancy-schmancy restaurants often boast of following the nose-to-tail philosophy, using every part of the animal to create tasty dishes. But this one?
Lord, how bland and dreary it sounds.
But here you are, complete with Victorian concern about the possible difficulty of laying hands on a parsnip or three.
- Clean the head well, and let it soak in warm water for two or three hours to get rid of the blood.
- Put it in a saucepan, with sufficient cold water to cover it. When the water boils add, say, three carrots, three turnips, two or three onions, a little parsley, and, if procurable, two or three parsnips. The vegetables should first be peeled and sliced.
- Next, add a teaspoonful of salt and three teaspoonsful of pepper. Then take a quarter pound of oatmeal, make it into a batter with some of the liquor, and add to the other ingredients.
- Stir well until it begins to boil, then put the lid on the saucepan and allow the whole to stew gently for about three hours. Rice or barley may be used in place of oatmeal.
Of course, the very look and feel of a skinned head would be enough to turn many of us vegetarian. But there you are. Bon appetit!
BTW the recipe comes from an 1880s copy of The New Zealand Observer and Freelance, searchable here.