Beef Collops for Collop Monday – An easy and delectable historical recipe that would have been served on Collop Monday, in the week preceding Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. Slices of beef are simmered in a rich beef stock and wine sauce before being served with fried bread, a pre-Lenten dish from many years ago.
Sliced Beef Steak in a Rich Beef Stock & Wine Gravy
I find it very sad how many of our traditional food customs have fallen by the wayside in the twenty-first century; the demise of so many wonderful feasts and festivals, whether they be sacred or secular, have been overtaken by national Cup Cake Day or Nutella day……NOT that there is anything wrong with these obviously popular days, but wouldn’t it be nice to remember the old feast days that are linked to our British calendar as well as these modern consumer driven advertisements. Or, I am just plain old-fashioned? One date on my calendar is Collop Monday, and today, February the 12th is Collop Monday this year. Collop Monday used to be just as important and popular as Shrove Tuesday, now known more commonly as Pancake day; it was a day when luxury foods such as meat, eggs and butter were used in special pre-Lenten dishes, it was quite simply the last opportunity for eating meat before Lent. Any fresh meat that was available was sliced into steaks and often salted to preserve it until the end of the period of Lenten fasting. Collops were enjoyed for breakfast on this day along with slices of fried bread, fried in butter of course. The origins of the word collop are not clear, but it is thought that the word comes from the Swedish word “Kalops” or the French word “Escalopes” both words meaning slices of meat or thin cuts of meat. To further confuse the matter, “Scotch Collops” are different again and are little rissoles or patties of minced meat with suet and onions, that are roasted in a gravy similar to “Faggots”
My grandmother, who was from the North East of England, also called slices of bacon collops, and she would serve bacon collops with fried eggs on Collop Monday, old fashioned bacon and eggs then…….and so the plot thickens. Whatever the true meaning of a collop, all I know is that I would love any of them to be served to me as a meaty treat before Lent. And, it is the more traditional beef collops that I have chosen to share with you today, for several reasons; firstly, I had two nice fillet steaks in the freezer that needed using up and secondly I also had a smidgen of red wine left from Sunday lunch, so I decided to combine all of these fabulous ingredients and make a Beef Collop dish.
This historical recipe comes from one of my favourite books of all times, Cattern Cakes and Lace by Julia Jones and Barbara Deere, which is wonderful seasonal record of many of our old feasts and festivals with associated recipes, of which Beef Collops is one. The recipe was easy to make and extremely tasty, the rich beef stock was left over from a Sunday beef joint a few weeks ago, that I popped into the freezer, but you could use a high quality commercial brand if you don’t gave homemade stock to hand. I am now about to shoot off and make MORE pancake batter for tomorrow, and I hope you have enjoyed today’s historical British recipe, and maybe you’ll have the time to try some Beef Collops for yourself this Collop Monday! Enjoy tomorrow, I’ll be on standby for pancake making, armed with my frying pan, free-range eggs and butter, bye for now, Karen.