Archive for the ‘Main Dish’ Category
Kidneys, cut lengthwise
Cut them through the long way, score them, sprinkle a little pepper and salt on them, and run a wire skewer through them to keep them from curling on the gridiron, so that they may be evenly broiled.
Broil them over a very clear fire, turning them often till they are done, they will take about ten or twelve minutes, if the fire is brisk; or fry them in butter, and make gravy by putting in a tea-spoonful of flour; as soon as it looks brown, put in as much water as will make gravy; they will take five minutes more to fry than to boil.
Obs– Some cooks chop a few parsley leaves very fine, and mix them with a bit of fresh butter and a little pepper and salt, and put a little of this mixture on each kidney.
From The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner, MD, New York, 1829
Comment: Again the English origins of Dr. Kitchiner’s book show through. There, dishes such as “steak and kidney pie” are popular and unremarkable. While nobody in the US even today bats an eye at a menu listing “liver and onions” or the like, the eating of kidneys has been rare except when they are discreetly hidden under another name like “giblets.” It is still possible to find kidneys, particularly pork ones, for sale in stores, particularly in the South. Otherwise one interested in trying this dish will have to make the acquaintance of a butcher.
1 knuckle of veal [foot with hoof removed]
Boil a knuckle of veal, and serve it up with a sauce made with the usual proportion of butter, flour, water, and salt, and parsley, which, in order to extract its flavor, must be chopped very fine.
From The Carolina Housewife by Sarah Rutledge, 1847
Comment: For your skeptical friends who do not believe just how very bare-bones recipes were in the 1800′s, we invite you to display this one which we print here in its entirety. A similar receipt today would specify quantities of ingredients down to the fractional portions of an eighth of a teaspoon while here you can almost see Mrs. Rutledge’s sniff of disapproval of anyone who did not simply know from experience what “the usual proportion” of these items should be.
Beef, raw, minced fine
This is a favorite Scotch dish; few families are without it; it keeps well, and is always ready to make an extra dish.
Take beef, and chop and mince it very small; to which add some salt and pepper. Put this, in its raw state, into small jars, and pour on the top some clarified butter. When intended for use, put the clarified butter into a frying-pan, and slice some onions into the pan, and fry them. Add a little water to it, and then put in the minced meat. Stew it well, and in a few minutes it will be fit to serve up.
The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner, MD, New York, 1829
Comment: Kitchiner notes this as being originally from a work called Seaman’s Guide by The Hon. John Cochrane, 1797, p. 42. There is nothing dishonorable about one cookbook author using material from another (particularly if the other is so old as to be presumed dead) but it is pleasant to see the earlier source given credit.
The use of the term “collop” for a small circular piece of meat is evidently peculiar to Scotland and the far north of England. The origin of this word is rather obscure, except for hints that it may be related to Swedish kalops “beef stew” and German Klops “meatball”.
Leg of lamb, cut into steaks
Have the leg cut into steaks at the market, or by the butcher. If this has not been done, you can do it yourself with a sharp knife. Cut through the largest part first; have the slices about the thickness of your finger; separate them from the bone neatly. Broil exactly like beef steak. The bone and fragments which are left will make a good broth.
The Young Housekeeper’s Friend by Mrs. [M. H.] Cornelius, Boston, 1863
Comment: Lamb is rarely eaten in the US these days, outside of certain ethnic communities and times of year surrounding some major religious holidays. The even stronger flavored mutton, from the grown sheep, is even less likely to be encountered in your average supermarket meat case. A whole leg, if obtained, is more likely to be roasted in that form than to be cut up for steaks. We entirely agree with Mrs. Cornelius, though, that if you prefer it in the form of steaks that you have it cut beforehand. The process of cutting all the way around the leg, then sticking the knife down between the meat and bone to free it from the limb, tends to produce a very raggedy looking steak, so professional assistance (and professional quality meatcutting machines) should not be scorned.
1 chicken, cut up
1/2 lb. salt pork
1 cup milk, or half milk, half cream
1 tbs. flour
1 tbs. butter
Cut up half a pound of fat salt pork in a frying-pan, and fry until the grease is extracted, but not until it browns. Wash and cut up a young chicken (broiling size), soak in salt and water for half an hour; wipe dry, season with pepper and dredge with flour; then fry in the hot fat until each piece is a rich brown on both sides. Take up, drain, and set aside in a hot covered dish.
Pour into the gravy left in the frying-pan a cup of milk–half cream is better; thicken with a spoonful of flour and a table-spoonful of butter; add some chopped parsley, boil up, and pour over the hot chicken. This is a standard dish in the Old Dominion, and tastes nowhere else as it does when eaten on Virginia soil. The cream-gravy is often omitted, and the chicken served up dry, with bunches of fried parsley dropped upon it.
Common Sense in the Household by Marion Harland, New York, 1871
Half a pound of lard (which is essentially what salt pork is, you are just doing the “rendering” process in miniature in the frying pan) would probably horrify a modern dietician, but it is unquestionably the way to produce the world’s best fried chicken. Let your conscience, your waistline, and (sigh) your most recent cholesterol readings be your guide as to how often you wish to partake of this delight. The gravy, of course, is where the true wickedness comes from, but once again, you will never taste better in your life. If you wish to feel virtuous, you may omit the step of frying the parsley and strew it over the chicken in its fresh green state.
2 small (“spring” or fryer sized) chickens, cut up
Lard or oil for frying
Sprigs of parsley
Clean, wash and cut to pieces a couple of Spring chickens. Have ready in a frying-pan enough boiling lard or dripping to cover them well. Dip each piece in beaten egg when you have salted it, then in cracker-crumbs, and fry until brown. If the chicken is large, steam it before frying. When you have taken out the meat, throw into the hot fat a dozen sprigs of parsley, and let them remain a minute–just long enough to crisp, but not dry them. Garnish the chicken by strewing these over it.
From Common Sense in the Household by Marion Harland, New York, 1871
Comment: We see here two interesting 19th century frying practices, both now pretty well obsolete. The first is frying in “drippings,” the fat left over from an earlier cut of meat which was roasted or baked. Such fats were in the past always saved after being strained of burnable bits of meat and used in either future frying or the production of pastries and pie crusts.
The second is the practice of deep-frying fresh parsley for use as a garnish. Why a perfectly attractive and harmless herb was thought to be improved by this practice is entirely unclear and we cannot count its demise as a setback to culinary progress.