Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

chop as a concept noun in the context of meat cookery, emerged in the 17th century. Slices of meat the size of individual portions, they were in their way forerunners of hamburgers, served up to busy city dwellers in the London chophouses that proliferated from the 1690s onwards. Right from the start chop seems usually to have been applied to cuts containing a bone and chopped from the loin, shoulder, or particularly ribs. It did, though, take a little time to bed down as a solo term: at first people spoke of ‘a chop of mutton’, for instance, rather than simply ‘a chop’ (on 9 July 1663 Samuel Pepys recorded ‘Had a chop of veal’). In modern usage, chop is applied to cuts of lamb or pork, but not beef (a corresponding section of which would be too big to form a single portion that could fit onto the average plate).