Nottingham jar goes to Chicago

I wonder if I will every be wandering round a charity shop, or “antiques” market, or junk shop and come across an actual Nottingham jar? They seem to have been widely used across the world, as I’ve found recipes using them in Australia and the USA. I came across an explanation of what on is in a forum talking about slow-cookers… “In a way, its back to a Nottingham Jar which I feel sure you know of. However for those who don’t I would explain that it was a clay pot with a lid and you put into it your meat (whole rabbit, pheasant or whatever) and kept turning it in front of an open fire”.

I found an article from the Chicago Tribune of 1927, in a column entitled The tribune Cookbook by Jane Eddington. A reader had enquired about cooking oxtail and particularly a recipe called ‘oxtail joints jardiniere’, and since it was August Ms Eddington seemed almost sniffy in her reply:

‘The summer isn’t the season for buying oxtails in my part of the cookery world. They are used more in winter time. In buying them my advice has always been not to let the butcher cut them up  with a cleaver because little pieces of bone breaking off as they are cooked may get into the eater’s throat – dangerous!’

After that practical advice, Ms Eddington continues:

‘The business of cooking them with vegetables may be compared to good pot roasting. That is what to cook them jardinière means… the cookery definition … is this: ” A prepara­tion of vegetates stewed in a sauce with savory herbs, etc.; also a containing a variety of vegetables cut fine.”

Then having put the reader in her place, Ms E, shares a recipe:

  • 1 oxtail
  •  1 cup of diced turnips
  • 2 onions sliced
  • 2 two carrots sliced
  • ½ a cup of diced celery
  • seasoned flour
  • butter for roasting
  1. . roll the ox­tails in seasoned flour  on all sides
  2. fry the vegetables in the roasting kettle in which they are to be cooked
  3. add sufficient stock either for a stew or for a soup,  for a stew, 2 cups ,for a soup up to 6 cups

She does not give a cooking time, I guess until they are done, and I would guess it would be difficult to overcook but she adds: “to describe all the niceties of cook­ing this humble perquisite of the ex­pert cook would take much more space than we have here…” which I don’t quite understand, but take to mean ‘work it out for yourself!’

In the last paragraph, the Nottingham jar makes an appearance:

In an old cook book there is a rather charming description of this viand. It says we are indebted to the Huguenot refugees who went to England after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, for finding out the virtues of the tail, head and feet of animals. In the poorer parts of Europe, prob­ably, these parts have always been used, while In Italy every part of a little kid, even the intestines and the hoofs are used, and also the spinal cord of the ox. The description given in the book for coo­king an oxtail stew is interesting and tells that it must be cooked in a Nottingham jar, covered with water and stewed in the oven slowly for three hours. Slow stewing ac­counts for part of the excellence of dishes made with this seasoning.


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