A pot roast is not an easy thing to eat on a tube platform so we changed the formula a bit for the Groucho Marx stop on The Great Bear Project.

On the day before our Groucho lunch, I jumped off the bus in Tufnell Park and purchased a big lump of brisket from that emporium of deliciousness Meat NW5.

As I have mentioned before, the butchers in there are very pleasing on the eye so it’s never a chore to nip in there. Plus, they were playing ELO which made me very happy indeed.

Image result for elo mr blue sky

On the way back to my place I hopped off at Highgate and presented the brisket to the roundel as is now the tradition. I felt as though my meat was being blessed by the spirit of Highgate so I knew it was going to be good.

Our guest for lunch was Marx Brothers expert Mark Brisenden. Here we are with Greg Swenson’s fab book Recipe for Rebels. We both have a copy and we both love it.

Talk flowed freely (especially after several beers and four bottles of wine between three) and was very much about the Brothers. I got out the book which features Groucho’s pot roast recipe to get Mark’s thoughts on the Jocko Marx mystery.

The book is called Famous Recipes by Famous People and it was published in 1933. There are 9 Marx Brothers recipes in this book, but the way some have been attributed is a mystery. Groucho has two entries. The German Pot Roast and Matzo Balls (which I’ve written about several times, including here where you will also find Groucho’s favourite Date and Pecan Pie recipe).

Harpo Marx contributed a recipe for Patlijan Boereg which is an aubergine dish.

Two recipes have a mysterious line in place of the name of the brother, so the mysterious ________________ Marx is responsible for Salzburger Nockeln and Sourbraten.

Last but not least, Farina Dumplings and Herring Potatoes are attributed to Jocko Marx. This is the biggest mystery, discussed some time ago in this post. There was no Jocko Marx.

After much discussion between the three of us, we came to the conclusion that this was a typo on the part of the book’s compilers. Probably should have been Chico or Zeppo. And the brother just identified with a line? The other of the two maybe? It’s one of life’s great mysteries and a fun one to contemplate as we ate our way through large helpings of Groucho’s delicious Pot Roast. Perhaps whoever sent the recipes into the Cook Printing Co had dreadful handwriting and the compilers gave up trying to work out who was who?

Whatever! If you are a fan of Groucho (and who in their right mind isn’t?) I heartily recommend his pot roast.

So easy to bung together and cook. I made this the day before in my slow cooker – 6 hours on high. I bunged it in the fridge overnight then took all the fat off the top with a slotted spoon (I learned this from Smitten Kitchen when I made her GLORIOUS Holiday Brisket) then reheated it slowly for about an hour as Mr R was doing the roast spuds, carrots and parsnips.

There was a LOT of the lovely sauce left so I used that as the base for some Phyllis Diller’s Garbage Soup.

So here is Groucho’s recipe for those who fancy making it.

Mr Rathbone’s Station Factoids

Imagine taking a train from Highgate station to Muswell Hill, Crouch End, Finsbury Park, Edgware, Alexandra Palace or even Elstree? All this would have been possible had the second world war not intervened and left the Underground’s ambitious ‘Northern Heights’ project unfinished. Indeed, this station would have been an important junction very much like Camden Town is today, if large sections of the project hadn’t been left abandoned.

(note the lines in red would have been part of the Northern Line)

The station was first opened in 1867 on the route from Finsbury Park to Edgware. It was deep in a cutting at the eastern foot of Highgate hill, some distance from the village it was named after. The original station layout can be seen below c.1870s, in a then semi-rural setting. The building top left is the Woodman pub, later rebuilt but still in situ today.

In the 1880s the outer platforms were replaced by a central  platform, seen below as it appears in more recent times…

The station we know today is beneath this original ‘high level’ stop. London Transport extended their Northern Line branch from Archway (then known as ‘Highgate’ just to confuse matters!) right underneath this old station site and then onwards and upwards till it emerged south of East Finchley station and joined the original line from the old Highgate station on what is now known as the ‘High Barnet Branch’.

The branches to Alexandra Palace, Finsbury Park and much of the branch to Edgware (beyond Mill Hill East) never did become part of the Northern Line (even though they appeared on tube maps as ‘under construction’ right up until the early 1950s) and the extension to Bushey was never built. But the ghostly remains of the original Highgate station are still visible to the sharp eyed today, a reminder of what might have been.

THANK-YOU MR RATHBONE, that was most instructive! As I live in Muswell Hill, Highgate is my nearest tube station so it is close to my heart. There is an intention to add “the ghost branch” of Muswell Hill, Cranley Gardens, Crouch End and Alexandra Palace once we’ve ticked all of the other Great Bear Northern Line stations off the list. Only 42 to go! Next up is Sean “You call this archaeology Junior?!” Connery.


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