Tom Kitchin: Dishes inspired by the 1860s

Tom Kitchin. Picture: Contributed
Tom Kitchin. Picture: Contributed
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WHEN we opened The Scran & Scallie, chef Dominic Jack and I really wanted to bring back some classic Scottish dishes to our menu. We spent a lot of time at the National Library of Scotland, looking at and drawing ideas from old recipes and images we found there.

So when I was asked by retailer John Lewis to help them create a heritage menu to celebrate their 150th anniversary, I jumped at the chance to look back in their rich archives too, and create some dishes inspired by the dining tables of the 1860s. I found a wonderful quote from the founder John Spedan Lewis: “For most people eating is one of the chief pleasures of life, immensely important to good temper and liveliness of mind.”

I was also lucky enough to see the menu book his wife Beatrice kept which documented recipes for the family, as well as for the staff.

In creating a celebratory menu, I wanted to combine my findings from the National Library of Scotland – which bring rich Scottish flavour – with John Spedan Lewis’s passionate attitude to food. As a result, the menu features Sheep’s Heid Scotch Broth – a fun take on a Scottish classic, but served in the way in which it would have been served in the 1860s, using leftovers and cuts that are today often discarded or forgotten. I found lots of sketches from fishmongers at the library and an incredible watercolour of a fishwife in Edinburgh which really inspired me to combine lots of fantastic Scottish seafood together in a pie. I was also inspired by Beatrice Lewis’s gooseberry fool, but wanted to give it a seasonal Scottish twist, so a strawberry fool seemed to fit perfectly.

Hopefully you’ll enjoy these dishes as John Spedan Lewis himself would have intended – as one of the chief pleasures of life.


For the stock

• 6kg roast lamb bones

• 10 carrots

• 1 celery

• 2 onions

• 6 sheep’s heids – roasted (or use equivalent in lamb neck or shoulder)

• 100g tomato paste

• 10 litres water

• 1 clove garlic

Fry the carrots until lightly coloured. Add the onions, garlic and celery and sweat for a few minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook out; add the sheep’s heids and lamb bones and cover with the water. Bring to the boil, skim and simmer very gently for 4-5 hours, skimming any excess fat.

Strain/pass the stock through a fine sieve and reserve the sheep’s heids. When cooler, pick the meat from the bones and remove all sinew.

For the soup

• 1kg picked mutton heid or neck

• 1 large chopped onion

• 1 large chopped leek

• 100g broth mix

• 3 carrots peeled and diced

• 1 medium swede (rutabaga) peeled and diced

• 2 sticks celery

• 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped

• 1 tbsp chopped parsley

• bouquet garni

• salt and pepper

Sweat the carrots, swede, onions, leek, celery and garlic. Add the broth mix and cover with warm lamb stock. Add the bouquet garni and cook for 45 minutes. Skim off any fat or scum. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper; finish with the picked sheep/lamb meat and parsley. Garnish with parsley and serve while hot.

STARGAZY FISH PIE Serves four to six

• 2 litres milk

• 600g firm fish fillets (salmon/hake/cod) diced into 2cm cubes

• 200g smoked fish fillet (smoked haddock)

• 4-6 prawns

• 2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and quartered

• 1kg Maris Piper potatoes

• 2 tbsp butter

• salt and pepper

• 1 beaten egg

• cleaned langoustine heads to decorate finished pie

For the béchamel sauce

• 500ml milk

• 60g butter

• 50g flour

• 2 tbsp grain mustard

To make the béchamel sauce: First bring the milk up to a simmer in a small pot and set aside. Next, in another pan, melt the butter gently over medium heat, then add the flour and stir until the mixture is smooth. Now begin adding the milk a little at a time to avoid lumps. Keep adding the milk and stirring, until you have a rich creamy sauce.

Allow to cook slowly for 5 minutes and then add the grain mustard. Set aside.

Cooking the fish: Gently heat the 2 litres of milk, taking care that it does not boil over. Add the raw fish fillets and poach in the milk for 3-4 minutes. Add the smoked fish and prawns and poach for a further 3-4 minutes. Remove the fish and set aside.

To make the mashed potato: Pre-heat the oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6. Place the potatoes on a tray and bake in the oven until crispy and soft. While hot, scoop out the flesh, discard the skins and pass through a drum sieve to remove any lumps. Heat the milk used for poaching the fish, add the butter and fold through the potato mixture. Season to taste.

To make the pie: Pre-heat the oven to 190C/Gas Mark 5. Butter a baking dish and spread a small amount of béchamel on the dish bottom. Next spread the poached fish and quartered eggs, then spread with the remaining béchamel. Top with the mashed potatoes, place the langoustine heads in the potato, and brush with an egg wash. Place the baking dish on a tray and put into a preheated oven at 190C/Gas Mark 5 for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling.


For the strawberry compote

• 500g ripe, fresh Scottish strawberries

• 2 tbsp lemon juice (to taste)

• 4 tbsp caster sugar

• few drops of balsamic vinegar (to taste)

For the custard

• 150ml double cream

• 150ml milk

• 2 egg yolks

• 30g caster sugar


For the compote: Cut the strawberries in half, or in quarters if large, and put in a pan with the sugar and lemon juice. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves, then bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook the strawberries for 3 minutes or until dark red and syrupy. Cool, then add the vinegar.

To make the custard: In a heavy-bottomed pan, bring the double cream and milk to the boil. Whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar in a bowl, then add the hot milk and cream. Return all the ingredients back into the pan, and, gently heating, stir constantly. When the mixture starts to thicken enough to coat the back of the spoon, it’s ready. Strain into a clean bowl and set aside to cool.

To serve: Spoon the compote into individual glasses. Layer the custard on top and serve with almond biscuits or shortbread.

• Tom Kitchin’s 150th Heritage Menu is available from The Place to Eat, John Lewis, Edinburgh, until 29 June.