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Calf's-Head Soup

Soups
Historic

Calves' head meat in broth with herbs, spices and vegetables. Mrs.B, following Acton 1845, thickens the broth with rice flour.


Original Receipt from 'Modern Cookery for Private Families' by Eliza Acton (Acton 1845);

GOOD calf's head SOUP.
(Not expensive)
Boil down from six to seven pounds of the thick part of a shin of beef with a little lean ham or a slice of hung beef trimmed free from the smoky edges, should either of these last be at hand, in five quarts of water till reduced nearly half, with the addition, when it first begins to stew, of an ounce of salt, a large bunch of savoury herbs, one large onion, a head of celery, three carrots, two or three turnips two small blades of mace, eight or ten cloves, and a few white or black peppercorns. Let it boil gently, that it may not be too much reduced, for six or seven hours, then strain it into a clean pan and set it by for use. Take out the bone from half a calf's head with the skin on, the butcher will do this if desired, wash, roll and bind it with a bit of tape or twine and lay it into a stewpot with the bones and tongue, cover the whole with the beef stock and stew it for an hour and a half, then lift it into a deep earthen pan and let it cool in the liquor as this will prevent the edges from being dry or discoloured. Take it out before it is quite cold, strain and skim all the fat carefully from the stock, heat five pints in a large clean saucepan, with the head cut into small thick slices or into inch squares. As quite the whole will not be needed, leave a portion of the fat but add every morsel of the skin to the soup and of the tongue also. Should the first of these not be perfectly tender it must be simmered gently till it is so then stir into the soup from six to eight ounces of fine rice flour mixed with a quarter tea spoonful of cayenne twice as much freshly pounded mace half a wine glassful of mushroom catsup and sufficient cold broth or water to render it of the consistency of batter boil the whole from eight to ten minutes take off the scum and throw in two glasses of sherry dish the soup and slip into the tureen some delicately fried and well dried forcemeat balls made by the receipt of Chapter VI. A small quantity of lemon juice or other acid can be added at pleasure. The wine and forcemeat balls may be omitted and the other seasonings of the soup a little heightened. As much salt as may be required should be added to the stock when the head first begins to boil, in it the cook must regulate also by the taste the exact proportion of cayenne mace and catsup, which will flavour the soup agreeably. The fragments of the head with the bones and the residue of the beef used for stock if stewed down together with some water and a few fresh vegetables will afford some excellent broth, such as would be highly acceptable especially if well thickened with rice to many a poor family during the winter months.




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