RELISH THE TASTE OF GENTLEMAN'S RELISH
The English seem to love condiments. In fact, when I think of definitively English foods, besides Roast Beef, Yorkshire Pudding, Tea and Scones, I think of English pickles and sauces: Branston Pickle, HP Sauce, Piccalilli, Marmite, Coleman's Mustard, Lea & Perrins, to name a few. It would seem that no other country, except the United States, has a love for a diversity of sauces, relishes, conserves, jams, jellies, pickles, and condiments than England.
My partner, Paul, and I are slowly restoring a lovely 1890s Victorian style home in Connecticut's Northwest Corner. While researching Victorian foods and recipes, I uncovered a unique condiment from British days of yore. A salty blend of anchovies, butter, herbs, and spices, "Patum Peperium," also known as "Gentleman's Relish," whose recipe has remained a closely guarded secret since its creation by John Osborn in 1828.
My intention has always been to search out and preserve traditional canning and pickling recipes; with this sentiment in mind, I offer you an old Victorian favorite, Gentleman's Relish. Traditionally spread on toast, this relish also adds a "kick" to other sauces or gravies or may be used as a sandwich spread. Gentleman's Relish is an essential ingredient for Scotch Woodcock - a Victorian snack served at the end of a meal (recipe below).
Throughout the 1800s, lean meat was preserved by cooking, then grinding it into a paste using a mortar, adding salt and spices, packing the mixture into stoneware containers, then covering with a thick layer of butter or lard. Osborn’s secret recipe was passed from father to son for more than a century until 1971 when the last two brothers sold the company to the jam manufacturers, Elsenham. Elsenham has kept the tradition of secrecy but there are several knock-off recipes for Gentleman's Relish bouncing around the internet. After several experiments, I found French Tart's recipe on Food.com suited my tastes. I've converted the recipe to U.S. measurements.
If you are interested in more information on this condiment, this article, written by Tom Parker Bowles, offers interesting insights on this unique spread.
7.5 ounces anchovies , drained coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh white breadcrumbs
1/3 pound unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 pinch freshly ground nutmeg
1 pinch ground mace
1 pinch ground ginger
1 dash fresh black pepper
Using a food processor blend the anchovies and butter until they resemble a smooth paste.
Incorporate the spices (I first blended them all together first) into the anchovy paste. Spoon the paste into a large ramekin. Cover with clarified butter and chill.
Stores in refrigerator for up to a month.
This savory dish was popular in Victorian and Edwardian days when it was served at the end of a meal. This recipe was published on All British Food.com
2 large slices whole grain bread
Sweet Butter for spreading
4 - 6 tbsp fresh Raw Milk
Dash cayenne pepper
1 can anchovies (1 3/4 oz), drained or fresh White anchovy fillets
1. Melt a knob of butter in a saucepan. Whisk together the milk, eggs, and cayenne pepper, then pour into the pan and stir slowly over a gentle heat until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and stir until creamy.
2. Divide the mixture between the anchovy toasts and top with thin strips of anchovy fillet, arranged in a crisscross pattern.
3.Toast the bread, remove the crusts and spread with butter. Cut in half and spread with Gentleman's Relish.
CHEESE AND MUSHROOM CANAPE
Thoroughly mix cream cheese with Gentleman's Relish, lemon juice, chopped olives and chopped parsley. Cap a raw mushroom and stuff with the mixture.