"The supper was an excellent one too...the tea service was extremely plain...but the bread and mutton chops, and the butter, and even the tea, were such as Mrs Powell's china was never privileged to bear."
Susan Warner's description of a Welsh farmhouse, about 1850,
"Saddle of mutton from the Welsh hills, or Scotland, is a joint for an epicure. Let it be well hung, dust the entire joint with pepper and dry flour and strew it with powdered herbs..."
Food in England,
Dorothy Hartley (p140)
“Meat in mincemeat survived longest in the sheep-rearing district of Cumbria, where lamb or mutton was used in preference to beef. Recipes are quoted by the Women’s Institute (1937), Joan Poulson (1979), and Peter Brears (1991).”
Traditional Foods of Britain: a regional inventory (2004) p306,
“From Scriptural authority we learn many interesting facts as regards the sheep: the first, that mutton fat was considered the most delicious portion of any meat, and the tail and adjacent part the most exquisite morsel in the whole body; consequently, such were regarded as especially fit for the offer of sacrifice.”
Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1861) (p176),
“McNeill (1929) quotes a St Andrews professor describing the pies of his childhood which were made by the pie-wife: ‘Delightful as were her pigeon and apple pies, her chef-d’oeuvre…was a certain kind of mutton-pie. The mutton was minced to the smallest consistency, and was made up in standing crust, which was strong enough to contain the most delicious gravy… There were no lumps of fat or grease in them at all… They always arrived piping hot… It makes my mouth water still when I think of those pies.”
Traditional Foods of Britain: a regional inventory (2004) p212,
Very fat Mutton may be salted to great advantage, and also smoked, and may be kept thus a long while. Not the shoulders and legs, but the back of the sheep. I have never made any flitch of sheep-bacon, but I will, for there is nothing like having a store of meat in a house. The running to the butcher's daily is a ridiculous thing.
William Cobbett, 1822
“Although we have heard, at various intervals, growlings expressed at the inevitable ‘saddle of mutton’ at the dinner-parties of our middle classes, yet we doubt whether any other joint is better liked, when it has been well hung and artistically cooked.”
Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1861) (p184),
Lanoline and mutton fat were used as ointments on hill farms just as hog's lard or goose-grease were used on valley farms. On account of the extreme hardness of well-clarified mutton fat, when used as a basis for ointment it was usually warmed before being applied. For shepherds' or milkmaids' chapped or badly cracked 'winter' hands the sovereign cure was to warm the fat, when the hands were dipped in bodily, and the grease worked well in. The hands were then held under the cold tap and gently wiped. This treatment made it possible for the worker to carry on with his job without his hands being too sticky, and the ointment did not melt off easily during the day.
Food in England,
Dorothy Hartley (p159-60)
Of the sheep is cast away nothing,
His horns for notches-to ashes goeth his bones,
To Lordes great profit goeth his entire dung,
His tallow also serveth plastres, more than one,
For harp strings his ropes serve everyone,
Of whose head boiled whole and all
There cometh a jelly, and ointment full Royal.
For ache of bones and also for bruises
It is remedy that doeth ease quickly
Causing mens stark points to recure,
It doeth sinews again restore to life.
Black sheeps wool, with fresh oil of olive,
The men at armes, with charms, they prove it good
And at straight need, they can well staunch blood.
If you use mutton fat for cake-making (and it makes farmhouse gingerbread, apple cake and the homelier kinds of cake very well), beat it to a cream with the lemon juice, or a spoonful of cider, till it whips like snow.
Food in England,
Dorothy Hartley (p64)
To view our full list of Mutton Mutterings, click here.
View our full listings of Mutton Renaissance events
8th March 2012
OPEN EVENT DEMONSTRATES QUALITY OF RENAISSANCE MUTTON
8th August 2011
RESEARCH PROJECT INVESTIGATES MUTTON QUALITY
21st January 2011
WESTMINSTER STUDENT WINS THE 'MUTTON RENAISSANCE STUDENT CHEF CHALLENGE 2010'