Updated: Aug 21, 2021
In an earlier post (Daily Meals in Tudor England) mention was made of 'Collop Monday', the day before Shrove Tuesday, in connection with the origins of breakfast. More recently we produced 'Scotch Collops' for English Heritage's 'Elizabethan Pageant' at Kenilworth Castle. With little idea of what the term 'collop' meant, some quick web-based research revealed a surprising answer.
Like Easter, Collop Monday is evidently another moveable date in the Christian calendar. Regardless on what date it actually falls, however, it is always the Monday before Shrove Tuesday (pancake day in Britain). Precisely when Collop Monday came into being is not clear, but it was most likely established in the Mediæval period.
Also known as Shrove Monday, traditionally this was the last day to cook and eat meat before the prohibitions of Lent. Without refrigeration, it is likely that the only meat available at that time of year would have been smoked or salted - usually bacon or ham. In fact, in Tudor England the name collops referred specifically to thick slices of bacon.
It soon became the custom that the bacon would be fried and served with eggs, usually for breakfast, on Collop Monday. In one way this could be considered the forerunner of today's full English Breakfast. Nevertheless, the leftover bacon fat would be used the following day, Shrove Tuesday, to make pancakes.
The traditional Scottish dish known as 'Scotch Collops' uses either mince or thin slices of either beef, lamb or venison. The meat is combined with onion, salt, pepper and suet, then stewed, baked or roasted with optional flavourings according to the meat used. Today Scotch Collops are often served garnished with thin toast and mashed potato.