With Storm Ciara howling about our ears and snow forecast for the start of the coming week, what better time than this to prepare a hearty, comforting dish that all your friends and family will enjoy? Except non-meat eaters. 

The delicious recipe reproduced below is the fourth in our series drawn from Mrs Williamson’s 1854 classic The Practice of Cookery and Pastry, Adapted to the Business of Every Day Life. 

For more on this Dundas Street stalwart, see Barclay Price’s article in Issue 289.


Take a head with skin upon it, scald and take off the hair clean. Wash it and the pluck* well. Put both into a stew-pan, cover them with boiling water, and let them boil for half an hour.
Take out the head and pluck, and let all the water in which they were boiled remain upon the fire until reduced to one English pint.
Divide the head into two. Take the lights** and heart and lay the liver aside. Then trim the head and neck neatly, mince the heart and lights very fine. Brown a bit of butter and flour in a stew-pan, put in the mince, and one onion minced. Skim your stock and put it also into your mince.
Draw it to the side of the fire and keep hot till wanted. Take the brains out of the head and make brain cakes.
Brush the head over with a beat egg. Have a little parsley minced, some thyme, one onion, pepper and salt, and bread crumbs; mix them together, cover the head and neck with them, put them into the oven or before the fire to brown. When browning, keep basting with butter kept hot till wanted.
Slice the liver, trim it nicely, brush over with egg, and fry it.
The mince should now be tender and thick. Season with pepper and salt.
Dish the mince, lay the head over it, and garnish with brain cakes and liver.***


* pluck: viscera

** lights: lungs

*** Mrs Williamson does not specify any vegetable accompaniment, but the Icelandic variant on her recipe shown top-right is served with suede and mashed potatoes. Image: Wikimedia, creative commons.


35 Dundas Street