Posts Tagged ‘beef’
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.)
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”.
1 roast (beef, ham or poultry)
1/2 pint flour
1/2 pint water
Salt as desired
Most people put a half a pint of flour and water into their tin-kitchen, when they set meat down to roast. This does very well; but gravy is better flavored, and looks darker, to shake flour and salt upon the meat; let it brown thoroughly, put flour and salt on again, and then baste the meat with about half a pint of hot water (or more, according to the [amount of] gravy you want.) When the meat is about done, pour these drippings into a skillet, and let it boil. If it is not thick enough, shake in a little flour; but be sure to let it boil, and be well stirred, after the flour is in. If you fear it will be too greasy, take off a cupful of the fat before you boil. The fat of beef, pork, turkeys and geese is as good for shortening as lard. Salt gravy to your taste. If you are very particular about dark gravies, keep your dredging-box full of scorched flour for that purpose.
From The American Frugal Housewife by Mrs. [Lydia] Child, 1833
Comment: “Scorched flour” does not sound like a very attractive item, but under its more common name of browned flour is well regarded even today for gravy-making. It is made by simply putting common flour–either white or whole wheat–into a dry frying pan and cooking it over low to medium heat, stirring continually, until it looks cooked. (White flour will become brown, and since whole wheat is browner to begin with it will simply become more so.) More important than the greater darkness of the resulting gravy is the fact that the scorching process cooks the flour in advance of its actual addition to the sauce. Many failures in gravy-making can be traced to the flour or other thickening agent being insufficiently cooked in the pan, resulting in a pasty consistency and unpleasant taste.
3 lb. lean beef
2 lb. beef suet
1 tbs. salt
6 lb. apples
4 lb. raisins
2 lb. currants
1 tsp. cinnamon, ground
1 tbs. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 lb. brown sugar
1 qt. Madeira wine
1/2 lb. citron, cut up
Boil three pounds of lean beef till tender, and when cold chop it fine. Chop two pounds of clear beef suet and mix the meat, sprinkling in a tablespoonful of salt. Pare, core and chop fine six pounds of good apples; stone four pounds of raisins and chop them; wash and dry two pounds of currants; and mix them all well with the meat. Season with powdered cinnamon one spoonful, a powdered nutmeg, a little mace and a few cloves pounded, and one pound of brown sugar–add a quart of Madeira wine and half a pound of citron cut into small bits. This mixture, put down in a stone jar and closely covered, will keep several weeks. It makes a rich pie for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
From The Good Housekeeper by Sarah Josepha Hale, 1841
Comment: As might be expected from a receipt calling for more than 20 pounds of ingredients, this is not a recipe for a single pie. Mince recipes–of which there are a huge number of variants–were made up in one marathon cooking session and then packed into jars for use over the next several weeks, months or seasons. This particular one of Mrs. Hale’s was, as she notes, not one of the longer-storing versions since it includes a mere quart of alcohol, which served as a preservative. Most minces intended to last over the whole winter were preserved with brandy–a large amount to start with, and a recommendation that each time some of the mix was taken out for use in an actual pie, that the volume removed be replaced with an equal quantity of yet more brandy or fortified wine. One imagines that the last couple of pies from each jar would have rendered the eaters into a good state of pickled preservation themselves.
1 rump roast
1 pint red wine
1 head celery
Salt and pepper
Stuffing (“forcemeat”) to taste
Take out as much of the bone as can be done with a saw, that it may lie flat on the dish, stuff it with forcemeat made as before directed, lay it in a pot with two quarts of water, a pint of red wine, some carrots and turnips cut in small pieces and strewed over it, a head of cellery cut up, a few cloves of garlic, some pounded cloves, pepper and salt, stew it gently till sufficiently done, skim the fat off, thicken the gravy, and serve it up; garnish with little bits of puff paste nicely baked, and scraped horse-radish.
From The Virginia Housewife, or, Methodical Cook, by Mary Randolph, 1860 edition of 1831 book.
Comment: Mrs. Randolph does not tell us how big a rump she wants us to cook, but from the quantity of water we would guess it is a fairly large one. The days of mechanized meat cutting and the packaging of ever-smaller cuts in individualized plastic trays lay far in the future. And that’s not a typo in the recipe; that was how Ms. Randolph spelled “celery.” Standardized spelling lay in the future as well.
1 roast of beef
The general rules are, to have a brisk hot fire, to be placed on a spit, to baste with salt and water, and [roast] one quarter of an hour to every pound of beef. Tho’ tender beef will require less, while old tough beef will require more roasting. Pricking with a fork will determine you whether done or not; rare done is the healthiest, and the taste of this Age.
From American Cookery or, The Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry and Vegetables Adapted to This Country and All Grades of Life, by Amelia Simmons, 1796
Comment: This recipe may seem, of all things, too old to appear in a Civil War cookbook. Ms. Simmons is famous as the author of “the first American cookbook” to be published after the Revolution and independence. Her occupation, if you will, was listed as “an American orphan,” which tells an interesting story in itself. Women of the period, to put it bluntly, were not expected to be writing books. A female was expected to be under the protection, and to some extent the property, of her father until she married, and her husband until his death. Amelia in fact spends almost as much time in her Introduction apologizing for being unprotected in the world and therefore obliged to come up with some means of supporting herself, than she does discussing the food.
Whatever its origins, this book was popular for much of the first half of the 19th century, and in any case the technique she describes was hardly anything new or radical. The process was probably used on haunches of mastodon in an earlier age, and will continue to be the best way to roast beef as long as it continues to be eaten.