Meat slices ('collops') stewed with strongly-flavoured herbs. In older receipts this may be shallots, thyme, mace and parsley. More recently capers and vinegar have been used and the name has come to be applied to the type of thin steak as much as to the dish itself. (Glasse 1747, Raffald 1769, Cassell 1883, British Food Trust, etc)
See also: Oxford John Cakes
Original Receipt from 'The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy' By Hannah Glasse, 1747 (Glasse 1747)
KEEP a leg of mutton till it is stale, cut it into thin collops, and take out all the sinews and fat, season them with pepper and salt, a little beaten mace, and strew among them a little shred parsley, thyme, and three or four shallots; put about a quarter of a pound of butter in a stewpan, and make it hot, put all your collops in, keep them stirring with a wooden spoon till they are three parts done, and then add a pint of gravy, a a little juice of lemon, and thicken it with butter rolled in flour; let them simmer four or five minutes, and they will be enough. Take care you do not let them boil, nor have them ready before you want them, for they will grow hard; fry some bread sippets, and throw over and round them and send them up hot.
Original Receipt from Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery (Cassell 1883)
Oxford John, Mutton.- Cut one pound and a half of very thin collops from a well-kept leg of mutton. Free them entirely from slan and sinew, season them with pepper, salt, and grated nutmeg, and dip them into a mixture composed of two table-spoonfuls of chopped parsley, a tea-spoonful of powdered thyme, and a tea-spoonful of finely-minced shallots. Fry the seasoned collops in three ounces of butter, and when they are lightly browned on both sides, cover them with good brown gravy, and add a piece of butter, rolled thickly in flour, and a tea-spoonful of strained lemon-juice. Let them remain on the fire a few minutes until the sauce is on the point of boiling, then turn them on a hot dish, and serve with sippets. If the collops are allowed to boil they will prove hard. Time, half an hour. Probable cost, Is. 8d. Sufficient for three or four persons.
Oxford John, Mutton (another way).- Melt some butter in a stewpan (say two or three ounces), cut very thin slices from a leg of mutton into round collops, season these with, a mixture of pepper, salt, minced shallot, savoury herbs, and parsley, and a blade of pounded mace. Put the collops into the stewpan, and keep them stirred or moved round in the pan until done, when, add a breakfast-cupful of good meat gravy, the juice of half a small lemon, and an ounce of butter, kneaded into a dessert-spoonful of flour; stir, and simmer five or six minutes, but not longer, or they will become tough. Time, twenty minutes to stew.
Venison, Oxford John of.- Take some slices of equal size, and half an inch thick, from a well-kept leg, loin, or neck of venison. Season these rather highly with powdered spice, and fry in hot fat till they are brown on both sides. Put them in a stewpan, pour over them equal portions of claret and strong brown gravy, enough to cover them, and add a tablespoonful of white wine vinegar, half a teaspoonful of powdered sugar, and a few fried bread-crumbs. Cover the saucepan closely, and heat the sauce gently till it is close upon the point of boiling. Put the slices of venison on a dish, strain the sauce over, and serve very hot. If liked, the slices may be marinaded for an hour or two in the wine, vinegar, and spice, before being fried. Probable cost of venison, very uncertain.
Original Receipt from 'Pot-luck; or, The British home cookery book' by May Byron (Byron 1914)
49. OXFORD JOHN (Eighteenth Century)
Take a stale leg of mutton, cut it in as thin coUops as you possibly can, taking out all the fat sinews. Season them with mace, pepper, and salt, strew among them a little shred parsley, thyme, and two or three shalots. Put a good lump of butter in a stewpan; when it is hot put in all the coUops, keep stirring them with a wooden spoon till they are three parts done, then add half a pint of gravy and a little juice of lemon, thicken it with a little flour and butter, let them simmer four or five minutes and they will be quite done enough. If you let them boil, or have them ready before you want them, they will grow hard. Serve them up hot, with fried bread cut in slices over and around.
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