Gubbins Sauce

The other day, for some strange reason, I thought about Nathaniel Gubbins. I'd read some of his musings many years ago but it was obviously time for a return visit. Nathaniel Gubbins was an alias of Edward Spencer who was writing about food around the end of the 19th century. After a quick search I came up with probably his best known book 'Cakes and Ale'.

For this month's Random Recipe challenge Dom of Belleau Kitchen has asked us to select the first or last recipe in a randomly chosen book. It occurred to me that you can't get a much more randomly chosen book than this, so I thought I'd give it a go. 'Cakes and Ale' isn't really a recipe book - it's described by the author as a 'dissertation on banquets interspersed with various recipes'. Sure enough in chapter two I came across the first "real" recipe: 'Gubbins Sauce'

This is probably one of the best-known British devilled sauces and I've seen it revived a number of times with or without variations. What I hadn't realised was that Mr Spencer intended this sauce to accompany 'legs and wings of fowl' at breakfast time. That’s a little early in the day for me, so I'd recommend serving it with grilled or simply-roasted chicken, turkey or pork for dinner. This time I used it with roasted pork fillet. Mr Spencer describes the sauce as 'invaluable, especially for the sluggard' – well, that’ll be me, then.

This is not exactly the original recipe but it’s only slightly adapted. The amount given here should make enough sauce for 4 reasonably restrained people or 2 greedy lovers of devilled sauce. It’s pretty simple to put together but it’s best to not make it too far ahead of time.
Gubbins Sauce
40 g butter
3 tbsp English mustard
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1½ tbsp tarragon vinegar
4 tbsp double cream
Salt, white pepper and cayenne pepper

You’ll need a double boiler or a bowl suspended over barely simmering water. Melt the butter gently in the heated bowl. Stir in the mustard followed by the two vinegars. Once these are thoroughly combined, stir in the double cream. Season with salt, pepper and a little cayenne. Keep the sauce warm (but don’t let it get too hot) and pour over your chosen meat immediately before serving.

Deeply old-fashioned and deeply delicious.


  1. I do love an old-fashioned recipe especially if it comes from a chap who uses the word sluggard! I've just picked up a copy of William Sitwells new book A History of Food in 100 Recipes and it's chocked full of recipes like this. Lovely sauce. Live the mustard and double vinegar. Fab stuff and thanks for entering such entertaining posts!

  2. This sounds just the sort of sauce we would love, I have never heard of it before! Take care Diane

  3. Hey this is interesting Phil. I should try it soon. I don't do many sauces and really like the look of this. Ciao!

  4. Old fashioned and delicious sounds great to me! Love the colour of the mustard!

  5. Hi Phil,
    I liked the look and the simplicity of this sauce, would love to have it a go, thank you.
    I just did a blogpost, and again showered you with some lovely awards!! Any excuse for recognition, many thanks for all the wonderful recipes. Here is the link, if you'd like to check out:

  6. Wow, this is a really "out there" colour. Bet it tasted special.

  7. Thanks for the comment on my blog. I am also fascinated by old English cooking. I wonder why it gained the reputation of being bland? Probably Franco Anglo rivalry during the war! I have been researching English breakfasts for my blog and can easily see how legs and wings of fowl could be served with a rich sauce such as this. I mean they used to eat curry for breakfast!!!! Pigs trotters even!!
    Which brand of English mustard do you use? I can only get Coleman's here.

    1. Well, there are a number of fine brands of mustard around but there's definitely nothing wrong with Colman's. In fact, it's probably the standard by which all others are judged. It's also been established so long that I wouldn't mind betting that it's the brand that Mr Gubbins reached for himself when preparing his sauce.

  8. What a vibrant colour from the mustard! Certainly brightens up a plate of pork with a splash of summer.

  9. Hi Phil,
    It's a great recipe!
    Don't you know that you can store and share your recipe with more than 13,000 foodies around the world?
    We have an online cookbook and community, and surely we're always looking for more creative recipes to add to our database.


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