Hacks of mackerel

My sister Bridget gave me a second hand cookery book for Christmas, Seven Hundred Years of English Cooking by Maxime McKendry and edited by Arabella Boxer. There is a recipe in it from 1730 for Mackerel with Fennel and Mint which is worth repeating.

The common Way for Mackerel, is after boil’d to make a Sauce with thick Butter, Mint, Fennel and Parsley boil’d and minc’d, and drawn up with the Butter; If you broil them whole, hack them, and season them with Pepper, Salt and Nutmeg, some Mint and Fennel minc’d, and grated Bread, and wash them over with Butter, and dredge them over, and fill the Hacks full of that Seasoning, and broil them over a gentle Fire, and sauce them with thick Butter drawn up with an Anchovy, and garnish with Lemon.

The recipe is attributed to a Charles Carter and begs the question as to what exactly a Hack is.

There is another recipe for mackerel with mint in the book going back to the thirteenth century. There is some mint in the garden round the back of the Cottage so it will be something to try next summer.

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