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The Art of Cookery Continued: Chapter I: Of Roasting, Boiling, &c.

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Cook with a spit

Below is the entire chapter I of Hannah’s definitive work.  Her tone comes through loud and clear – she was writing to the “lower” servants – there was a clear hierarchy even within those ranks of society, and she makes it clear which position she sees herself in.  Some of the things that landed on the 18th century plates of England would turn our stomachs today, such as whole woodchucks and snipes with nothing removed.  Parts of animals that we today view with either disgust, or relegate to the “sausage material” category were served with flair and a side dish of gravy.  I would suggest that you avoid eating while reading these directions…

Chapter I:  Of Roasting, Boiling, &c.


That professed cooks will find fault with touching upon a branch of cookery which they never thought worth their notice, is what I expect:  however, this I know, it is the most necessary part of it; and few servants there are, that know how to roast and boil to perfection.

I do not pretend to teach professed cooks, but my design is to instruct the ignorant and unlearned (which will likewise be of great use in all private families) and in so plain and full a manner, that the most illiterate and ignorant person, who can but read, will know how to do everything in cookery well.

I shall first begin with roast and boiled of all sorts, and must desire the cook to order her fire according to what she is to dress; if anything very little or thin, then a pretty little brisk fire, that it may be done quick and nice; if a very large joint, then be sure a good fire be laid to cake.  Let it be clear at the bottom; and when your meat is half done, move the dripping pan and spit a little from the fire, and stir up a good brisk fire; for according to the goodness of your fire, your meat will be done sooner or later.


If beef, be sure to paper the top, and baste it well all the time it is roasting, and throw a handful of salt on it.  When you see the smoke draw to the fire, it is near enough; then take off the paper, baste it well, and drudge it with a little flour to make a fine froth.  Never salt your roast meat before you lay it to the fire, for that draws out all the gravy.  If you would keep it a few days before you dress it, dry it very well with a clean cloth, then flour it all over, and hang it where the air will come to it; but be sure always to mind that there is no damp place about it, if there is you must dry it well with a cloth.  Take up your meat, and garnish your dish with nothing but horseradish.


As to roasting mutton; the loin, the saddle of mutton (which is the two loins) and the chine (which is the two necks) must be done as the beef above.  But all other sorts of mutton and lamb must be roasted with a quick clear fire, and without paper; baste it when you lay it down, and just before you take it up, drudge it with a little flour; but be sure not to use too much, for that takes away all the fine taste of the meat.  Some chuse to skin a loin of mutton, and roast it brown without paper: but that you may do just as you please, but be sure always to take the skin off a breast of mutton.


As to veal, you must be careful to roast it of a fine brown; if a large joint, a very good fire; if a small joint, a pretty little brisk fire; if a fillet or loin, be sure to paper the fat, that you lose as little of that as possible.  Lay it some distance from the fire till it is soaked, then lay it near the fire.  When you way it down, baste it well with good butter; and when it is near enough, baste it again, and drudge it with a little flour.  The breast you must roast with the caul on till it is enough; and skewer the sweetbread on the backside of the breast.  When it is high enough, take off the caul, baste it, and drudge it with a little flour.


Pork must be well done, or it is apt to surfeit.  When you roast a loin, take a sharp penknife and cut the skin across, to make the crackling eat the better.  The chine you must not cut at all.  The best way to roast a leg, is first to parboil it, then skin it and roast it; baste it with butter, then take a little sage, shred it fine, a little pepper and salt, a little nutmeg, and a few crumbs of bread; throw these over it all the time it is roasting, then have a little drawn gravy to put in the dish with the crumbs that drop from it.  Some love the knuckle fluffed with onion and sage shred small, with a little pepper and salt, gravy and apple-sauce to it.  This they call a mock goose.  The spring, or hand of pork, if very young, roasted like a pig, eats very well, otherwise it is better boiled.  The sparerib should be basted with a little bit of butter, a very little dust of flour, and some sage shred small:  but we never make any sauce to it but apple-sauce.  The best way to dress pork grifkins is to roast them, baste them with a little butter and crumbs of bread, sage, and a little pepper and salt.  Few eat anything with these but mustard.

To roast a pig.

Spit your pig and lay it to the fire, which must be a very good one at each end, or hang a flat iron in the middle of the grate.  Before you lay your pig down, take a little sage shred small, a piece of butter as big as a walnut, and a little pepper and salt; put them into the pig and sew it up with coarse thread, then flour it all over well, and keep flouring it till the eyes drop out, or you find the crackling hard.  Be sure to save all the gravy that comes out of it, which you must do by setting basons or pans under the pig in the dripping pan, as soon as you find the gravy begins to run.  When the pig is enough, stir the fire up brisk; take a coarse cloth, with about a quarter of a pound of butter in it, and rub the pig all over till the crackling is quite crisp, and then take it up.  Lay it in your dish, and with a sharp knife cut off the head, and then cut the pig in two, before you draw out the spit.  Cut the ears off the head and lay at each end, and cut the under-jaw in two and lay on each side; melt some good butter, take the gravy you saved and put into it, boil it, and pour it into the dish with the brains bruised fine, and the sage mixed all together, and then send it to table.

Different sorts of sauce for a pig.

Now you are to observe there are several ways of making sauce for a pig.  Some don’t love any sage in the pig, only a crust of bread; but then you should have a little dried sage rubbed and mixed with the gravy and butter.  Some love bread-sauce in a bason; made thus:  take a pint of water, put in a good piece of crumb of bread, a blade of mace, and a little whole pepper; boil it for about five or six minutes, and then pour the water off:  take out the spice, and beat up the bread with a good piece of butter.  Some love a few currants boiled in it, a glass of wine, and a little sugar:  but that you must do just as you like it.  Others take half a pint of good beef gravy, and the gravy which comes out of the pig, with a piece of butter rolled in flour, two spoonfuls of catchup, and boil them all together; then take the brains of the pig and bruise them fine, with two eggs boiled hard and chopped; put all these together, with the sage in the pig, and pour into your dish.  It is a very good sauce.  When you have not gravy enough comes out of your pig with the butter for sauce, take about half a pint of veal gravy and add to it:  or stew the petty-toes, and take as much of that liquor as will do for the sauce, mixed with the other.

To roast the hind quarter of pig, lamb-fashion.

At the time of the year when house-lamb is very dear, take the hind quarter of a large pig; take off the skin and roast it, and it will eat like lamb with mint-sauce, or with a salad, or Seville-orange.  Half an hour will roast it.

To bake a pig.

If you should be in a place where you cannot roast a pig, lay it in a dish, flour it all over well, and rub it over with butter, butter the dish you lay it in, and put it into an oven.  When it is enough draw it out of the oven’s mouth, and rub it over with a buttery cloth; then put it into the over again till it is dry, take it out, and lay it in a dish:  cut it up, take a little veal gravy, and take off the fat in a dish it was baked in, and there will be some good gravy at the bottom; put that to it, with a little piece of butter rolled in flour; boil it up, and put it into the dish with the brains and sage in the belly.  Some love a pig brought whole to the table, then you are only to put what sauce you like into the dish.

To melt butter.

In melting of butter you must be very careful; let your saucepan be well tinned, take a spoonful of cold water, a little dust of flour, and your butter cut into pieces:  be sure to keep shaking your pan one way, for fear it should oil; when it is all melted, let it boil, and it will be smooth and fine.  A silver pan is best, if you have one.

To roast geese, turkies, &c.

When you roast a goose, turkey, or fowls of any sort, take care to singe them with a piece of what paper, and baste them with a piece of butter; drudge them with a little flour, and when the smoke begins to draw to the fire, and the look plump, base them again, and drudge them with a little flour, and take them up.

Sauce for a goose.

For a goose make a little good gravy, and put it into a bason by itself, and some apple-sauce in another.

Sauce for a turkey.

For a turkey good gravy in the dish, and either bread or onion-sauce in a bason.

Sauce for fowls.

To fowls you should put good gravy in the dish, and either bread or egg-sauce in a bason.

Sauce for ducks.

For ducks a little gravy in the dish, and onion in a cup, if liked.

Sauce for pheasants and partridges.

Pheasants and partridges should have gravy in the dish, and bread-sauce in a cup.

Sauce for larks.

Larks, roast them, and for sauce have crumbs of bread done thus:  take a saucepan or stew pan and some butter; when melted, have a good piece of crumb of bread, and rub it in a clean cloth to crumbs, then throw it into your pan; keep stirring them about till they are brown, then throw them into a sieve to drain, and lay them round your larks.

To roast woodcocks and snipes.

Put them on a little spit; take a round of a three-penny loaf and toast it brown, then lay it in a dish under the birds, baste them with a little butter, and let the trale drop on the toast.  When they are roasted put the toast in the dish, lay the woodcocks on it, and have about a quarter of a pine of gravy; pour it into the dish, and set it over a lamp or chafing dish for three minutes, and send them to table.  You are to observe we never take anything out of a woodcock or snipe.

To roast a pigeon.

Take some parsley shred fine, a piece of butter as big as a walnut, a little pepper and salt; tie the neck-end tight; tie a string round the legs and rump, and fasten the other end to the top of the chimney-piece.  Baste them with butter, and when they are enough lay them in the dish, and they will swim with gravy.  You may put them on a little spit, and then tie both ends close.

To broil a pigeon.

When you broil them, do them in the same manner, and take care your fire is very clear, and set your gridiron high, that they may not burn, and have a little melted butter in a cup.  You may split them, and broil them with a little pepper and salt:  and you may roast them only with a little parsley and butter in a dish.

Directions for geese and ducks.

As to geese and ducks, you should have some sage shred fine, and a little pepper and salt, and put them into the belly; but never put anything into wild ducks.

To roast a hare.

Take your hare when it is cased, and make a pudding; take a quarter of a pound of sewet (suet), and as much crumbs of bread, a little parsley shred find, and about as much thyme as will like on a sixpence, when shred; an anchovy shred small, a very little pepper and salt, some nutmeg, two eggs, and a little lemon-peel.  Mix all these together, and put it into the hare.  Sew up the belly, spit it, and lay it to the fire, which must be a good one.  Your dripping-pan must be very clean and nice.  Put in two quarts of milk and half a pound of butter into the pan:  keep basting it all the while it is roasting, with the butter and milk, till the whole is used, and your hare will be enough.  You may mix the liver in the pudding, if you like it.  You must first parboil it, and then chop it fine.

Different sorts of sauce for a hare.

Take for sauce, a pint of cream and half a pound of fresh butter; put them in a saucepan, and keep stirring it with a spoon till the butter is melted, and the sauce is thick; then take up the hare, and pour the sauce into the dish.  Another way to make sauce for a hare, is to make good gravy, thickened with a little piece of butter rolled in flour, and pour it into your dish.  You may leave the butter out, if you don’t like it, and have some currant jelly warmed in a cup, or red wine and sugar boiled to a syrup; done thus:  take half a pint of red wine, a quarter of a pound of sugar, and set over a slow fire to simmer for about a quarter of an hour.  You may do half the quantity, and put it into your sauce boat or bason.

To broil steaks.

First have a very clear brisk fire:  let your gridiron be very clean; put it on the fire, and take a chafing-dish with a few hot coals out of the fire.  Put the dish on it which is to lay your steaks on, then take fine rump steaks about half an inch thick; put a little pepper and salt on them, lay them on the gridiron, and (if you like it) take a shallot or two, or a fine onion and cut it fine; put it into your dish.  Don’t turn your steaks till one side is done, then when you turn the other side there will soon be fine gravy lie on the stop of the steak, which you must be careful not to lose.  When the steaks are enough, take them carefully off into your dish, that none of the gravy be lost; then have ready a hot dish and cover, and carry them hot to table, with the cover on.

Directions concerning the sauce for steaks.

If you love pickles or horse-raddish (horseradish) with steaks, never garnish your dish, because both the garnishing will be dry, and the steaks will be cold, but lay those things on little places, and carry to table.  The great nicety is to have them hot and full of gravy.

General directions concerning broiling.

As to mutton and pork steaks, you must keep them turning quick on the gridiron, and have your dish ready over a chafing-dish of hot coals, and carry them to table covered hot.  When you broil fowls or pigeons, always take care your fire is clear; and never baste anything on the gridiron, for it only make it smoked and burnt.

General directions concerning boiling.

As to all sorts of boiled meats, allow a quarter of an hour to every pound; be sure the pot is very clean, and skim it well, for everything will have a scum rise, and if that boils down it makes the meat black.  All sorts of fresh meat you are to put in when the water boils, but salt meat when the water is cold.

To boil a ham.

When you boil a ham, put it into a copper, if you have one; let it be about three or four hours before it boils, and keep it well skimmed all the time; then if it is a small one, one hour and a half will boil it, after the copper begins to boil; and if a large one, two hours will do; for you are to consider the time it has been heating in the water, which softens the ham, and makes it boil the sooner.

To boil a tongue.

A Tongue, if salt, put it in the pot overnight, and don’t let it boil till about three hours before dinner, and then boil all that three hours; if fresh out of the pickle, two hours, and put it in when the water boils.

To boil fowls and house-lamb.

Fowls and house lamb boil in a pot by themselves, in a good deal of water, and if any scum arises take it off.  They will be both sweeter and whiter than if boiled in a cloth.  A little chicken will be done in fifteen minutes, a large chicken in twenty minutes, a good fowl in half an hour, a little turkey or goose in an hour, and a large turkey in an hour and a half.

Sauce for a boiled turkey.

The best sauce to a boiled turkey is this:  take a little water or mutton gravy, if you have it, a blade of mace, an onion, a little bit of thyme, a little bit of lemon-peel, and an anchovy;  boil all these together, strain them through a sieve, melt some butter and add to them, fry a few sausages and lay round the dish.  Garnish your dish with lemon.

Sauce for a boiled goose.

Sauce for a boiled goose must be either onions or cabbage, first boiled, and then stewed in butter for five minutes.

Sauce for boiled ducks or rabbits.

To boiled ducks or rabbits, you must pour boiled onions over them, which do thus:  take the onions, peel them, and boil them in a great deal of water; shift your water, then let them boil about two hours, take them up and throw them into a cullender to drain, then with a knife chop them on a board; put them into a sauce pan, just shake a little flour over them, put in a little milk or cream, with a good piece of butter; set them over the fire, and when the butter is melted they are enough.  But if you would have onions sauce in half an hour, take your onions, peel them, and cut them into this slices, put them into milk and water, and when the water boils they will be done in twenty minutes, then throw them into a cullender to drain, and chop them and put them into a saucepan; shake in a little flour, with a little cream if you have it, and a good piece of butter; stir all together over the fire till the butter is melted, and they will be very fine.  This sauce is very good with roast mutton, and it is the best way of boiling onions.

To roast venison.

Take a haunch of venison, and spit it.  Take four sheets of white paper, butter them well, and roll about your venison, then tie your paper on with a small string, and baste it very well all the time it is roasting.  If your fire is very good and brisk, two hours will do it; and, if a small haunch, an hour and a half.  The neck and shoulder must be done in the same manner, which will take an hour and a half, and when it is enough to take off the paper, and drudge it with a little flour just to make a froth; but you must be very quick, for fear the fat should melt.  You must not put any sauce in the dish but what comes out of the meat, but have some very good gravy and put into your sauce-boat or bason.  You must always have sweet sauce with your venison in another bason.  If it is a large haunch, it will take two hours and a half.

Different sorts of sauce for venison.

You may take either of these sauces for venison.  Currant jelly warmed; or half a pint of red wine, with a quarter of a pound of sugar, simmered over a clear fire for five or six minutes; or half a pint of vinegar, and a quarter of a pound of sugar, simmered till it is a syrup.

To roast mutton, venison fashion.

Take a hind-quarter of fat mutton, and cut the leg like a haunch; lay it in a pan with the backside of it down, pour a bottle of red wine over it, and let it lie twenty-four hours, then spit it, and baste it with the same liquor and butter all the time it is roasting at a good quick fire, and an hour and a half will do it.  Have a little good gravy in a cup, and sweet sauce in another.  A good fat neck of mutton eats finely done thus.

To keep venison or hares sweet, or to make them fresh when they stink.

If your venison is very sweet, only dry it with a cloth, and hang it where the air comes.  If you would keep it any time, dry it very well with clean cloths, rub it all over with beaten ginger, and hang it in any airy place, and it will keep a great while.  If it stinks, or is musty, take some lukewarm water, and wash it clean:  then take fresh milk and water lukewarm, and wash it again; then dry it in clean cloths very well, and rub it all over with beaten ginger, and hang it in an airy place.  When you roast it, you need only wipe it with a clean cloth, and paper it, as before-mentioned.  Never do anything else to venison, for all other things spoil your venison, and take away the fine flavour, and this preserved it better than anything you can do.  A hare you may manage just the same way.

To roast a tongue or udder.

Parboil it first, then roast it, stick eight or ten cloves about it; baste it with butter, and have some gravy and sweet sauce.  An udder eats very well done the same way.

To roast rabbits.

Baste them with good butter, and drudge them with a little flour.  Half an hour will do them, at a very quick clear fire, and, if they are very small, twenty minutes will do them.  Take the liver, with a little bunch of parsley, and boil them, and then chop them very fine together.  Melt some good butter, and put half the liver and parsley into the butter; pour it into the dish, and garnish the dish with the other half.  Let your rabbits be done of a fine light brown.

To roast a rabbit hare fashion.

Lard a rabbit with bacon; roast it as you do a hare, and it eats very well.  But then you must make gravy-sauce; but if you don’t lard it, white sauce.

Turkies, pheasants, &c. may be larded.

You may lard a turkey or pheasant, or any thing, just as you like it.

To roast a fowl pheasant fashion.

If you should have but one pheasant, and want two in a dish, take a large full-grown fowl, keep the head on, and truss it just as you do a pheasant; lard it with bacon, but don’t lard the pheasant, and nobody will know it.

About Trinity

A melancholic pragmatist with a wide streak of mischief and an active imagination that turns into novels.

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