Have you seen the Mock Turtle yet?”
“No” said Alice. “I don’t even know what a Mock Turtle is”
“It’s the thing a Mock Turtle Soup is made from” said the Queen
Soup was an essential part of the Victorian Meal, and the Victorians tended to eat most things.
Mock Turtle Soup was a standard for the rather well to do but having to remove the brain from a calf’s skull just doesn’t do it for me but I don’t think Victorians were that squeamish
So what do we need?
Well according to the world-renowned Mrs Beeton we need:
*1/2 a calf’s head
1/4 lb. of butter
1/4 lb. of lean ham
2 tablespoonfuls of minced parsley
a little minced lemon thyme
a few chopped mushrooms
2 tablespoonfuls of flour
1/4 bottle of Madeira or sherry
salt and mace to taste
the juice of 1 lemon and 1 Seville orange
1 dessert-spoonful of pounded sugar
*3 quarts of best stock, No. 104.
*The calf’s head you may be able to get from a good local butcher but I doubt if you are likely to get it in Tesco or Waitrose!
*Force-meat balls I always took to be stuffing but they are really more like falafel. Here’s a recipe from Michael Willis from his 1831 publication Cookery made easy: being a complete system of domestic management, uniting Elegance with Economy.
*Best Stock 104.
4 lbs. of shin of beef
4 lbs. of knuckle of veal
3/4 lb. of good lean ham
any poultry trimmings
3 small onions
3 small carrots
3 turnips (the latter should be omitted in summer, lest they ferment),
1 head of celery
a few chopped mushrooms
a bunch of savoury herbs, not forgetting parsley;
1–1/2 oz. of salt, 12 white peppercorns,
3 small blades of mace,
4 quarts of water.
I have made this in a slightly different form and cooked it for only 2 hours and the result was a really wonderful tasting stock or it can be used as a table gravy.
Best Stock 104 instruction – Line a delicately clean stewpan with the ham cut in thin broad slices, carefully trimming off all its rusty fat; cut up the beef and veal in pieces about 3 inches square, and lay them on the ham; set it on the stove, and draw it down, and stir frequently. When the meat is equally browned, put in the beef and veal bones, the poultry trimmings, and pour in the cold water. Skim well, and occasionally add a little cold water, to stop its boiling, until it becomes quite clear; then put in all the other ingredients, and simmer very slowly for 5 hours. Do not let it come to a brisk boil, that the stock be not wasted, and that its colour may be preserved. Strain through a very fine hair sieve, or tammy, and it will be fit for use.
Mock Turtle Soup instruction — Scald the head with the skin on, remove the brain, tie the head up in a cloth, and let it boil for 1 hour. Then take the meat from the bones, cut it into small square pieces, and throw them into cold water. Now take the meat, put it into a stewpan, and cover with stock; let it boil gently for an hour, or rather more, if not quite tender, and set it on one side. Melt the butter in another stewpan, and add the ham, cut small, with the herbs, parsley, onions, shallots, mushrooms, and nearly a pint of stock; let these simmer slowly for 2 hours, and then dredge in as much flour as will dry up the butter. Fill up with the remainder of the stock, add the wine, let it stew gently for 10 minutes, rub it through a *tammy, and put it to the calf’s head; season with cayenne, and, if required, a little salt; add the juice of the orange and lemon; and when liked, 1/4 teaspoonful of pounded mace, and the sugar. Put in the force-meat balls, simmer 5 minutes, and serve very hot.
Time.—4–1/2 hours. Average cost, Seasonable in winter. Sufficient for 10 persons.
Note.—The bones of the head should be well stewed in the liquor it was first boiled in, and will make good white stock, flavoured with vegetables, etc.
*A tammy cloth is a fabric kitchen tool that is used to strain sauces and stocks. In most cases, the cloth is made out of a woolen material that has a rough texture. In most cases, a tammy cloth will strain sauces, stocks, and soups more slowly than strainers made of metal or plastic. This is because the cloth has a naturally absorbent property that is not found in these harder materials. This creates a different kind of straining effect that is sometimes desired by chefs.