Norfolk Pottage

A very good dinner-party dish complete with all its vegetables, this pottage comes from an anonymous cookery book which dates from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The recipe, intended for a feast day, would serve about 40 people. It calls for a whole leg of beef, a large piece of veal, half a pound of bacon, four ox palates, four sweetbreads, two dozen cockscombs, several fowls, 24 pints of water and various herbs and spices.

Translated into reasonable quantities and replacing the palates and cockscombs with kidneys, it remains a most excellent, strong and subtly flavoured stew, with an inimitable, rich, thick gravy. It is often served with dumplings.

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken, about lb ( kg)
  • 2 lb (1 kg) good stewing steak, cut in thin slices, all fat and gristle removed
  • ½ lb (240 g) veal fillet, cut in thin slices
  • 2 bacon slices, finely chopped
  • 1 veal sweetbread, washed, skinned and sliced (optional)
  • 3 lamb kidneys or ¾ lb (360 g) ox kidney, skinned, cored and sliced
  • 2 onions, cut in rings
  • 1 lb (½ kg) carrots, scraped and diced
  • 2 blades of mace
  • A little thyme, dried or fresh lemons
  • ¾ lb (360 g) mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 large artichoke hearts, cut in quarters
  • 1 lb (½ kg) shelled peas
  • 2 lb (1 kg) new potatoes, scrubbed
  • 7 tablespoons (105 g) butter
  • ½ cup (60 g) flour
  • Salt and pepper

Method

You will require 2 large, heavy saucepans. In the bottom of each put half the onion rings and half the carrots. In 1 saucepan place the whole chicken and just cover with water, adding 1 teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of pepper, 1 blade of mace, a little thyme and the juice of half a lemon. In the second pan put all the other meats in layers, cover with water and repeat the seasoning. Stew very gently, closely covered, for 1½ hours, adding, after 1 hour, half the mushrooms to each saucepan.

Meanwhile, prepare and cook the remaining vegetables: fry the artichoke hearts in 3 tablespoons (45 g) of the butter for 3 minutes on each side. Boil the peas and potatoes separately. Drain all the vegetables and keep hot until the meat is dished up.

Remove both the saucepans from the heat. Lift out the chicken and take all the flesh from the bones, keeping the pieces as large as possible. Lift out all the meat from the other saucepan and arrange with the chicken on a very large flat dish. Keep hot while you thicken the gravy.

Combine the stocks from the two saucepans. Make a roux in another saucepan with the remaining butter and the flour. Stir in a little of the stock and bring to the boil. Gradually add more stock until you have about 5 cups (1.2 litres) of gravy the consistency of thin cream. Check the seasoning, adding the juice of half a lemon and some freshly ground black pepper. Pour the gravy over the meats on the dish and serve at once with the potatoes, peas and artichokes arranged as a border.

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