The Good Housewife’s Jewel page 24
Dawson, Thomas. The Good Houswife’s Jewel. 2002. Lewes, East Sussex: Southover, 1996. Print. 1870962125take a pint of white wine and a small quantity of water and small raisins and whole mace. Boil them together in a lttle verjuice, yolks of eggs mingled with them, and a peice of sweet butter. So serve them upon bread, sliced.
While there are no instructions for the actual cooking of the feet in question, I have my preferred methods (slow braise, a lid, no salt or acid until the meat is tender, as it can be toughened by either). Then again, I have no feet right now. I do have an oxtail, which is something of a scarce item in our freezer. Though the tail cannot be sliced for an elegant service as the meat of a foot could, it has similar enough textural qualities as to be a fine substitution.
I set the tail to simmering on the lowest heat, and in a smaller pot, made the sauce separately.
While the meat was somewhat unappealing to look upon, the longer it cooked, the more unctuous it got. It smells lovely.
When the meat was completely cooked and soft, I removed it from the bone and minced it, knowing I could not get elegant slices.
I then placed it on the toasts to wait for the sauce and held it in a warming oven.
The only quantity given for this recipe is that pint of white wine. This leads to all of the other decisions for balance.
Recipe: To Boil Calve’s Feet
- 1 calf’s foot or oxtail, simmered in water til tender, and sliced or otherwise prepared for service
- slices of bread on which to serve the meat and sauce
- 1 pint white wine
- ½ cup water
- 2 oz raisins
- 1 teaspoon whole blade mace, intact (to be removed later)
- up to ½ cup of verjus (taste as you go, it can go too sharp quickly)
- allow to cool, then in a pan, blend
- 3 egg yolks and 3 oz warmed butter
- salt to taste
- when the butter and egg yolks are gently warmed, stir in the wine mixture, off the heat. Be gentle, or the eggs will curdle.
- Folding the butter and eggs into the liquid creates an oily mass, and cooling the liquid then slowly beating the yolk in then adding the butter does similarly.
- Use your best judgement.
– a less well regarded food
– the sauce is unlikely to work in bulk, and is challenging even in small quantities
– the acid balance can be difficult, wine depending
+ sumptuous without being greasy
+ deep flavor
+ gives a side product of a lovely beef broth
+ Sophisticated enough for a nice appetiser.
Remember this is not a hollandaise… but all of the requirements for a hollandaise are there. The techniques required to make the creamy velvety sauce were not delineated until much later. There’s a fair amount of history available online and in books for emulsified sauces should you wish to find more information.
Because I did not wish to have a grease slick, I did stir the wine blend in to the butter, rather than pouring the butter overtop of the wine. I then folded in the egg yolks and warmed the sauce while stirring, It sure looks like a hollandaise.
This also permitted me to taste the sauce as I built it to prevent adding too much acid and damaging the balance of flavors.
Now I had to decide whether I was going to follow the implication in the instructions and simmer the meat in the blended sauce, or read it the other way as an overlaid sauce.
Being that the meat I chose is quite unctuous and tender, and that the bread is rather stiff, I opted to pour the completed sauce overtop and serve the dish as sops.
It cannot be stressed enough that the success of this dish relies on a lower acid white wine, as too much acid will unbalance the dish. A highly gelatinous meat is also helpful to the quality and enjoyment of it, as fatty meat would lend a greasiness which cannot balance the egg-yolk sauce.
If you don’t wish to fuss about with wine specifics, go easy on the verjus and taste critically as you add the eggs and butter to the sauce, in order to bring the flavors into a bright, creamy balance.