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Sirloin of Beef

Meat and Meat Dishes

Legend has it that a King, delighted with the meat he had been served, and presumably well filled with sack or mead, knighted the loin of beef making it Sir Loin "in a fit of good humour", as Samuel Johnson put it. But which king, and where? Jonathan Swift thought it was James I, the 'Cooks Oracle' of 1822 says it was Charles II, and no doubt there are a few others. Where? Well, Friday Hill House in Chingford claims it happened there, while Hoghton Tower in Lancashire will show you the actual feasting-table.

Hoghton Tower

Sirloin, of course, is just 'sur-loin'- above the loin, and the term can be traced back at least to an account book at St. Margaret's of Westminster in 1554. The legend of the kingly knighting seems to have started in Thomas Fuller's 'The Church History of Britain' in 1655, where he relates it as an act of Henry VIII.

Original Receipt from 'The Cook's Oracle' by William Kitchiner (Kitchiner 1830)

Sirloin of Beef.-(No. 19.)
The noble sirloin of about fifteen pounds (if much thicker, the outside will be done too much before the inside is enough), will require to be before the fire about three and a half or four hours; take care to spit it evenly, that it may not be heavier on one side than the other; put a little clean dripping into the dripping-pan, (tie a sheet of paper over it to preserve the fat), baste it well as soon as it is put down, and every quarter of an hour all the time it is roasting, till the last half hour; then take off the paper, and make some gravy for it; stir the fire and make it clear: to brown and froth it, sprinkle a little salt over it, baste it with butter, and dredge it with flour; let it go a few minutes longer, till the froth rises, take it up, put it on the dish, &c.
Garnish it with hillocks of horseradish, scraped as fine as possible with a very sharp knife. A Yorkshire pudding is an excellent accompaniment.
Obs. The inside of the sirloin must never be cut hot, but reserved entire for the hash, or a mock hare.

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