Archive for the ‘Main Dish’ Category
1 leg of pork
1/2 c. boiling water
Juice of 1 lemon
One [leg] weighing about seven pounds is enough, even for a large family. If the pig is young, the leg will be even smaller. Score the skin in squares, or parallel lines running from side to side, for the convenience of the carver. Put it down to roast with a very little water in the pan below. Heat gradually until the fat begins to ooze from the meat, when quicken the fire to a red, steady glow. Baste only with its own gravy, and do this often, that the skin may not be hard or tough. When done take it up, skim the gravy thoroughly, put in half a cup of boiling water, thicken with brown flour, add pepper, salt, and the juice of a lemon, and serve in a boat.
Common Sense in the Household by Marion Harland, New York, 1871
Comment: Whole legs of pork are rarely found in most supermarkets today, but if you have access to a custom butcher or some other method of obtaining one, this recipe calls for no modification at all. Of course it was intended to be cooked over a wood fire, which can easily be constructed in such a way as to provide higher heat to the larger upper portion of the leg so as to avoid overcooking the skinnier lower parts, but this can be achieved in a modern oven or barbeque grill with the judicious deployment of tinfoil.
1 roast of beef, sirloin or rib
Paste of flour and water (optional)
The best pieces for roasting are the sirloin and rib pieces. The latter are oftenest used by small families. Make your butcher remove most of the bone, and skewer the meat into the shape of a round. If you roast in an oven, it is a good plan to dash a small cup of boiling water over the meat in first putting it down, letting it trickle into the pan. This, for a season, checks the escape of the juices, and allows the meat to get warmed through before the top dries by said escape.
If there is much fat upon the upper surface, cover with a paste of flour and water until it is nearly done. Baste frequently, at first with salt and water, afterward with the drippings. Allow about a quarter of an hour to a pound, if you like your meat rare; more, if you prefer to have it well done. Some, when the meat is almost done, dredge with flour and baste with butter–only once.
Remove the beef, when quite ready, to a heated dish; skim the drippings; add a teacupful of boiling water, boil up once, and send to table in a gravy-boat. Many reject made gravy altogether, and only serve the red liquor that runs from the meat into the dish as it is cut. This is the practice with some–indeed most of our best housekeepers. If you have made gravy in a sauce-boat, give your guest his choice between that and the juice in the dish. Serve with mustard, or scraped horse-radish and vinegar.
From Common Sense in the Household by Marion Harland, New York, 1871
Comment: Note the fact that Mrs. Harland lists “an oven” as a possible device which her readers might be using for beef roasting. This marks her as a very progressive and up-to-date cookbook author, as stoves with ovens suitable for roasting (as opposed to bake ovens) were just coming into widespread use during the Civil War era. (Culinary historian Karen Hess has a rule of thumb that new cooking techniques, recipes, etc., have usually been in fairly widespread use for at least ten years before they are ever mentioned in a published cookbook.)
The default was still the open hearth, with roasting done on a spit before the fire with a pan underneath to catch drippings. This is still regarded by many as the ideal way to roast meats of any sort, considering oven “roasted” meats to be better named as either baked (if an open pan is used) or boiled (if cooked in a lidded vessel.)
1 lb. lean cold boiled ham or tongue
1/4 lb. fat from ham, or 2 oz. butter
Mace or allspice (optional)
Cut a pound of the lean of cold boiled ham or tongue, and pound it in a mortar with a quarter of a pound of the fat, or with fresh butter (in the proportion of about two ounces to a pound), till it is a fine paste (some season it by degrees with a little pounded mace or allspice); put it close down in pots for that purpose, and cover it with clarified butter, a quarter of an inch thick; let it stand one night in a cool place. Send it up in the pot, or cut in thin slices.
From The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner, MD, New York, 1829
Comment: This is a form of preserved meat which over time evolved into that well-known form of ham spelled with an “s” in front of its name, mocked and derided by everyone from World War II soldiers to British comedy troupes to recipients of unwanted commercial email. We would be more explicit about this but do not want to arouse the ire of the wonderful, forgiving folks in the legal department of Hormel Foods.
All sorts of meats, seafoods and vegetables were preserved in potted form. The common factors were the extremely fine mincing to which the potted items were subjected, the tight packing of the resultant paste, and the use of melted butter over the top to exclude air and ensure, or at least encourage, preservation.
1 lb. potatoes
3/4 oz. onion
2 oz. butter
2 layers of pie crust
4 egg yolks, hard boiled (optional)
1 tbs. mushroom catsup (optional)
Tiny onions rolled in curry powder (optional)
Peel and slice your potatoes very thin into a pie-dish; between each layer of potatoes put a little chopped onion (three-quarters of an ounce of onion is sufficient for a pound of potatoes); between each layer sprinkle a little pepper and salt; put in a little water, and cut about two ounces of fresh butter into little bits, and lay them on the top: cover it close with puff paste. It will take about an hour and a half to bake it.
N.B.: The yelks of four eggs (boiled hard) may be added; and when baked, a table-spoonful of good mushroom catchup poured in through a funnel.
Obs.–Cauliflowers divided into mouthfulls, and button onions, seasoned with curry powder, make a favorite vegetable pie.
From The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner MD, New York, 1829
Comment: This is a fairly unusual vegetable pie in that it does not call for any layers of meat products at all. Most that we have seen in books of the time have either complete layers or at least random bits, usually of leftover meat from the previous day, added as flavoring if not a prime ingredient. The final “Obs[ervation]” is somewhat unclear, as we are not sure if Dr. Kitchiner is recommending the cauliflower and/or curried onions as an addition to the potato recipe or as a separate pie of their own. The former seems more probable to us, because if there was a chance to list “Cauliflower and Curried Onion Pie” as a separate entry Dr. K would have almost certainly taken it. He was a somewhat wordy chap.
Egg sauce (optional)
Pudding for stuffing (optional)
Wash it well, and put it on to boil, as directed for Boiled Cod. A haddock of three pounds will take about ten minutes after the kettle boils.
Haddocks, salted a day or two, are eaten with egg sauce. Or, if small, very well broiled, or baked, with a pudding in their belly, and some good gravy.
Obs.–A piscivorous epicure protests that “Haddock is the poorest fish that swims, and has neither the delicacy of the whiting, nor the juiciness of the cod.” Our experience goes to substantiate the same point.
The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner, MD, New York, 1829
Comment: Haddock nowadays is more the subject of slapstick comedy routines and rude jokes than it is an article of food. The “Obs.” suggests that it might in fact have been just as disfavored in the early 19th century. One wonders if they may have been eaten primarily by the poor, or by residents of fishing communities where the higher-quality fish were sent off to markets where they brought a better rate of return.
1 c. cold boiled hominy (small)
1 tbs. butter, melted
1 c. milk
1 tsp. sugar, white
1 egg, beaten
1 egg, beaten (for dipping)
To a cupful of cold boiled hominy (small-grained), add a tablespoonful melted butter and stir hard, moistening, by degrees, with a cupful of milk, beating to a soft light paste. Put in a teaspoonful of white sugar, and lastly, a well-beaten egg. Roll into oval balls with floured hands, dip in beaten egg, then cracker-crumbs, and fry in hot lard.
From Common Sense in the Household by Marion Harland, New York, 1871
Comment: Mrs. Harland devotes several paragraphs in her book to the distinction between “small” and “large” hominy, which can be pretty safely ignored nowadays when finding hominy of any sort or dimensions is difficult enough. Hominy is simply whole-kernel corn (as opposed to cracked or ground forms of the vegetable) which has been preserved by a lengthy process that in the 19th century home version including soaking in lye. As this custom is no longer followed, hominy today is usually found in canned form. This is a whole-kernel form of hush puppy.
A croquette is a small patty or cylinder, usually made of grain and some sort of binder to allow it to be formed, and then deep fried. It is not to be confused with croquet, a yard game involving the knocking of large wooden balls through metal hoops with a large wooden mallet. Attempting to play croquet with croquettes would be interesting if sufficient quantities of Ardent Spirits were involved, but somewhat messy.