Solomon Grundy

serves approximately 20 (as a side dish)

3 lb roasted white meat of chicken, chilled and julienned
1 lb ham, shredded
2 heads of lettuce
8 hard-cooked eggs, halved
1 bunch parsley
1 lb scallions, chopped
4 oz anchovy fillets, drained
2 cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
1 small jar gherkins, drained
red cabbage, grated
other salad vegetables, according to the season
vinaigrette (about 16 oz worth)

Special equipment

a very large platter, and, optionally, a medium plate placed on an inverted bowl


Strew the lettuce(s) onto the platter. You may want to follow the tradition of either raising a tier or make a dome of ingredients in the center of the platter. Now begin to artfully arrange the rest of your ingredients, in circles or in radii from the center. Traditionally, the dressing is kept to the side in a gravy boat, but you can better control its consumption if you pour the dressing before presenting the dish.


So just what is a Solomon Grundy? An elaborate salad of cold meat, hot or cold vegetables, eggs, anchovies, fruit, almost anything, artistically arranged in circles on a large plate. While the dish was served as early as the fifteenth century, as Ayrton tells us, and Patrick Lambe, chef to the courts of Charles II and Anne, documents the dish in his Royal Cookery (see Hale), the name is muddled, spelled in almost as many ways as the dish can be prepared: Salad Magundy, Salmagundy, Solomon Grundy, Salamagundy. Perhaps the name comes from the French (sal ‘salt’ + condir ‘to season’? Old French salmigondis ‘mixture’?); it has come to be used metaphorically for any hodge-podge or curious mixture.

It's the contrast of the pungency of the pickles with the crispness of the fresh vegetables, the contrast of the meats with the greens, the variety of the colours, the variety of the flavours that makes the dish a success, Grigson feels. It's a clean-out-your-larder recipe, and as such, fell from grace with the class-consciousness of the cuisine of the Victorian era.


Celery, peas, sliced ham or tongue, grapes, pickled cabbage, pickled herring, veal, duck, sorrell, spinach, horseradish, lemon slices, beans: these are just a few of the things mentioned in a few centuries' worth of Salmagundy recipes. To our surprise, the anchovies were quite well received. So many diners sought them out, we ran short.

First served: Imbolc 1995
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Last modified: © February 1995