Posts Tagged ‘beef’
Whole sirloin, circa 15 lb.
Grated horseradish root
Yorkshire pudding (optional)
The noble sirloin of about fifteen pounds (if much thicker, the outside will be done too much before the inside is enough), will require to be before the fire about three and a half or four hours; take care to spit it evenly, that it may not be heavier on one side than the other; put a little clean dripping into the dripping-pan (tie a sheet of paper over it to preserve the fat), baste it well as soon as it is put down, and every quarter of an hour all the time it is roasting, till the last half hour; then take off the paper, and make some gravy for it; stir the fire and make it clear; to butter and froth it, sprinkle a little salt over it, baste it with butter, and dredge [sprinkle] it with flour; let it go a few minutes longer, till the froth rises; take it up and put it on the dish &c.
Garnish it with hillocks of horseradish, scraped as fine as possible with a very sharp knife. A Yorkshire pudding is an excellent accompaniment.
From The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner, MD, New York, 1829
Comment: To make this dish requires a kitchen equipped like a typical one of the early 19th century: a massive cooking hearth, which probably doubled as the heating source for the home; cast iron spits and rotisseries, gridirons, dripping-pans and related utensils; and a good supply of well seasoned hardwoods to make the sort of fire required. And, of course, a large enough household or circle of friends to need a 15 pound piece of cow as a centerpiece for a meal!
Even the charmingly described “hillocks of horseradish” will be somewhat difficult to achieve unless you have access to fresh horseradish root. As far as the Yorkshire pudding goes, we ourselves would sooner eat roasted library paste but perhaps we have just never managed to make the dish properly.
1 or more cow’s feet, hoof removed
Fat for frying
In the hands of a skilful cook, cow-heel will furnish several good meals; when boiled tender, cut it into handsome pieces, egg and bread-crumb them, and fry them a light brown; lay them round a dish, and put in the middle of it sliced onions fried, or the accompaniments ordered for tripe.
The liquor they were boiled in will make soups.
The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner, MD, New York, 1829
Comment: Dr. Kitchiner’s book has a fascinating split personality. While the majority of the work is directed towards gourmands of the most exquisite sensitivity, for whom he provides intricate sauces of exotic and expensive ingredients, he has other large sections of the work directed at “the poor.” In practical terms the same people–the cook and other household servants–were probably cooking from both portions of the book. The high-toned stuff for her employers and the above-noted castoffs of the butcher shop for herself, her co-workers, and their families.
Wise employers simply accepted the fact that a servant who spent all day cooking for the master had no time to go home and repeat the process, and turned a blind eye so long as the service was adequate and the theft was not blatant.
Round, brisket or other solid piece of beef
Coarse or kosher salt
Saltpeter (optional, and probably not available anyway)
Rub each piece of beef well with salt mixed with one tenth part of saltpetre, until the salt lies dry upon the surface. Put aside in a cold place for twenty-four hours, and repeat the process, rubbing in the mixture very thoroughly. Put away again until the next day, by which time the pickle should be ready.
5 gallons of water
1 gallon of salt
4 ounces saltpetre
1 and 1/2 lb. brown sugar
Boil this brine ten minutes; let it get perfectly cold; then pour over the beef, having wiped the latter entirely dry. Examine the pickle from time to time to see if it keeps well; if not, take out the meat without delay, wipe it, and rub in dry salt, covering it well until you can prepare new and stronger brine.
From Common Sense in the Household by Marion Harland, New York, 1871
Comment: Mrs. Harland is not too clear in the matter of the amount of salt called for here, but what matters is the proportion: ten parts salt to one of saltpeter. The latter has in recent decades been criticized as a possible carcinogen, and so has fallen out of favor and may be hard to obtain. Even more recent research suggests the previous research was flawed and the stuff may be harmless. The march of scientific progress is not always a smooth one. While the substance has been used for centuries as a meat preservative, suggesting that it certainly didn’t knock people over dead on the spot, it is worth remembering that most people managed to die of one thing or another by their forties in those times anyway. You decide.
The term “corning” in regards to meat is a frequent source of puzzlement since, clearly, no corn is used at any point in the process. Additionally, the term can be found in use in English sources long predating Columbus’ trip to the New World, which is where corn comes from. How did they come up with a term for a product they didn’t know existed yet? [Cue "Twilight Zone" music.]
The problem involves linguistics, not time travel. “Corn” was originally the word for any sort of grain used for food. If one wished to be more specific one said oats, or wheat, or barley or whatever. The “corning” process required coarse salt, but salt came in a great number of sizes, from the teeny crystals we know today to rocks of any mass desired. The size desired for meat preservation was a crystal about the size of a single grain of wheat, or barley, or oats, thus, “corn.”
When English-speaking people came to the Americas and found the inhabitants dining on a kind of grain which they had never seen before, they said “Whuzzat stuff?” Getting a variety of responses depending on what tribe was involved in the conversation, they fell back on one they knew–it was clearly a food grain, so it was “a corn.” English-speaking people who stayed home decided that was dumb and called the stuff “maize.” Thus do we remain two peoples divided by a common language.
1/2 c. chopped corned beef
2 c. chopped boiled potatoes
1 tbs. butter
4 tbs. water
Salt if needed
Pepper to taste
The best hash is made from boiled corned beef. It should be boiled very tender, and chopped fine when entirely cold. The potatoes for hash made of corned beef are the better for being boiled in the pot liquor [liquid the corned beef was boiled in.] When taken from the pot, remove the skins from the potatoes, and when entirely cold chop them fine. To a coffee-cup of chopped meat allow four of chopped potatoes, stir the potatoes gradually into the meat, until the whole is mixed. Do this at evening and, if warm, set the hash in a cool place. In the morning put the spider on the fire with a lump of butter as large as the bowl of a table-spoon, add a dust of pepper, and if not sufficiently salt, add a little; usually none is needed. When the butter has melted, put the hash in the spider, add four table-spoons of water, and stir the whole together. After it has become really hot, stir it from the bottom, cover a plate over it, and set the spider where it will merely stew. This is a moist hash, and preferred by some to a dry or browned hash.
From The Housekeeper’s Encyclopedia by Mrs. E.F. Haskell.
Comment: As is often the case the amounts given in the ingredients list at the top of this recipe–written by us to modern measurements–should be taken only as approximations. Cookbooks of the 19th century described quantities in terms either of weight–no kitchen was without a scale–or measures of volume which lacked the sort of consistency we expect today. Did a teacup hold more or less than a coffee cup? How did either compare to a modern standard eight-ounce measuring cup? How big was Mrs. Haskell’s tablespoon–would it hold “a piece of butter the size of a hen’s egg” or “a walnut”, to use two of her other favorite terms?
We are saved here because corned beef hash is a very forgiving item. Like most dishes which originated as “peasant food” it is expected that one will adapt any given making to what ingredients are on hand and how many people are to be fed.
Oh, and for anyone disconcerted by the direction to “put the spider on the fire” or feel that would be inhumane to arachnids….a spider is a cast-iron large frying pan or Dutch oven with three our four little legs on the bottom to hold it up out of direct contact with the fire. Users of modern cooking stoves are free to use regular frying pans and deal with spiders as your views on the sanctity of all life dictates.
1-2 lb. beef steak
2-3 lb. veal
Scraps of poultry
2 bay leaves
2 cloves, whole
2 champignon mushrooms
Take a pound or two of steaks, two or three pounds of veal, some pickings of fowl, carrots and onions, put all these into a saucepan with a glass of water, and set it on a brisk fire; when scarcely any moisture remains, put it on a slow fire, that the jelly may take color without burning; and as soon as it is brown, moisten it with stock (or water), add a bunch of parsley and green onions, two bay-leaves, two cloves, and some champignons, salt it well, and set it on the fire for three hours, then strain; dilute a little roux with your liquor, and boil it an hour over a gentle fire, take off all the fat, and run it through a bolting [strain through fine cloth].
From “The Cook’s Own Book: Being a Complete Culinary Encyclopedia” by “A Boston Housekeeper” [Mrs. N. K. M. Lee], published Boston, 1832
Comment: The brown sauce is the most important recipe in a proper cook’s repertoire, the basis of a vast array of more elaborate saucings as well as a huge number of soups. While Mrs. Lee calls for a “brisk fire” while the majority of the liquid is evaporated away, it is advisable to take care to turn the heat down so as not to let it get so far reduced as to burn to the bottom of the pan. This is of no use for anything and will stink up the kitchen at the very least, and result in the attentions of the fire department at worst. While “steaks” are called for here, the best sauces are traditionally made from the worst and cheapest cuts of meat, or even scraps and leftovers from more elegant cuts.
1 pig’s head, 6 lbs.
1 lb. lean beef
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper (black or white)
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. mace
Pinch of cloves
Small onion, minced very fine
Clean and wash the head, and stew with the beef in enough cold water to cover. When the bones will slip out easily, remove them, after draining off the liquor. Chop the meat finely while it is hot, season, and pour all into a mould, wet inside with cold water. If you can have a tin mould made in the shape of a boar’s head, your brawn will look well at a Christmas feast.
From Common Sense for the Household by Marion Harland, New York, 1871
Comment: This is pretty much the same thing as souse, somewhat more heavily spiced than is usual for that dish, and clearly intended for a fall (harvest or meat-slaughtering season) or Solstice holiday feast. The word “brawn” can be traced back as early as the 12th century when it meant both “strong muscles” and “side of pork.” Books of etymology claim it is related to the German words “brat” and “brato” meaning “meat without bones or fat.” You will probably never be able to use a certain brand of paper towel again now that you know these things.