Mrs Beeton’s (Hot – But Not Spicy) Tomato Sauce


This was the hesitant response mumbled at me by my boyfriend when I asked him what he thought about the latest Mrs Beeton recipe I’d put together.

“So, is that a no or yes?” I clarified warily.

“N… yeah.”

Despite this – how to put it politely – not exactly eloquent critique, I’d be lying if I said my reaction was any different.  It really was rather n…yeah.



INGREDIENTS – 6 tomatoes, 2 shalots, 1 clove, 1 blade of mace, salt and cayenne to taste, 1/4 pint of gravy, No. 436, or stock No. 104.


The problem is – the base flavour of the recipe entirely depends on the use of a specific gravy or stock blend.  Now, I can’t imagine that every Victorian housewife would have always had these precise blends to hand when flicking through Mrs Beeton, would she?  Undoubtedly, they’d have concocted something of their own devising and gone from there.


Such was my reasoning, anyway, as I prepared this sauce for use with my boyfriend’s pork cutlets tonight (and my vegetarian equivalent).


I really don’t know where I went wrong (well, besides not using the stated stock or gravy).   As so often with Mrs Beeton, this sauce wasn’t complicated to throw together.  Halve the tomatoes, squeeze out the juice and seeds, and pop them into a saucepan with the rest of the ingredients (maybe I should have used mace, instead of nutmeg.  And cayenne instead of paprika.  shalots instead of baby onions.  Hmmm…).



OK, so the sauce wasn’t so very bad.  It really wasn’t.  But what it definitely was, was too salty (my fault) and rather bland (my fault?).


It looked nice on the cutlets, I’ll give it that.

But still.  N…yeah.


Hot Tomato Sauce (Recipe 529):


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