Friday, January 8, 2016

Historical Food Fortnightly 2016, Challenge No. 1: Meat and Potatoes

The Challenge:
Meat and Potatoes
They’re a staple for the tables in the most rustic cottages as well as the fanciest banquet tables - and it’s also an idiom meaning a staple or the most basic parts of something. Make a historic “meat-and-potatoes” recipe - however you interpret it.

If the fellow foodies will remember, I've set an additional challenge to interpret dishes that are listed as served at the 80th Anniversary Dinner of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. One of the made dishes listed was Irish Stew.
Irish Stew included the "meat and potatoes" of the Irish-American diet. It would have been known (and loved) by the diners and a recognition of Old Country roots. It's inclusion in the menu was natural, though likely sending the chefs for a recipe book with a Gallic "BAF!"
Sheep were the primary meat stock of Ireland. In 1864, the meat from sheep was divided into categories based on the age of sheep at slaughter. Mutton were older sheep, over a year, and the tougher meat would benefit from a boiled and steamed preparation.
Potatoes were essential to the Irish diet and the blights of the potato crops in 1846-1848 brought many desperate emigres to America. One of the primary goals of the Friendly Sons was assistance to these early immigrants.
The rest of the Irish Stew recipe adds flavor with onions, spiced gravy, and ketchup.

So, without further ado, an Irish Stew.

The Recipe:
From: The Complete Cook by J.M.Sanderson, 1849 pub. 1864
345. Mr. Phillips's Irish Stew.
--Take five thick mutton chops, or two pounds off the neck or loin; two pounds of potatoes, peel them, and cut them in halves; six onions, or half a pound of onions, peel and slice them also. First, put a layer of potatoes at the bottom of your stew-pan, then a couple of chops and some of the onions; then again potatoes, and so on, till the pan is quite full; a small spoonful of white pepper, and about one and a half of salt, and three gills of broth or gravy, and two tea-spoonfuls of mushroom catsup; cover all very close in, so as to prevent the steam from getting out, and let them stew for an hour and a half on a very slow fire. A small slice of ham is a great addition to this dish. Great care should be taken not to let it burn.

The Date/Year and Region: 
1849-1870, Mid Atlantic United States

How Did You Make It:
Prepare the potatoes, onions, and meat.
Layer the potatoes.

Layer the meat and onions.

Prepare gravy.
Pour on the gravy, mushroom ketchup and spice.

Cover and bake at 300* for 90- 120 minutes.

Time to Complete: 
About two hours.

Total Cost: 
About $20.00, Lamb is not as cheap as it once was. :-p

How Successful Was It: 
Roomie and I think it tasted wonderful, though if I were making it again I would cook the potatoes a bit before the rest.

How Accurate Was It: 
The obvious modern equipment aside, I followed the directions fairly faithfully. I used a modern prepared gravy and my trusty bottle of Lea & Perrins for the mushroom ketchup... which may have given a more modern spice palette.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge 2016

I couldn't just leave well enough alone in challenging myself.

This year, I dedicate my challenges to a military unit that welcomed me in, despite the times I've had them scratching their heads in confusion.
"Buck up Cupcake!"
"Well... actually "cup cake" IS period."

The 28th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, Co. B was a member of the Irish Brigade. They were composed predominately of formerly Irish immigrants and by the end of the American Civil War were turning their recent publicity to fraternal endeavors to help fellow Irish in need. Many predominantly Irish communities founded their branches of the fraternal organization, The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, based on the organization started in Philadelphia.
  The Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick for the Relief of Emigrants from Ireland

As I was perusing a worthy transcription project, What's On the Menu, I came across a menu for the 80th anniversary dinner of the organization, given in March of 1864 at Delmonico of New York city.

This year I am using this menu for many of the challenges of the Historical Food Fortnightly. Step one was translating the French. Looks like some fun food here!

Potage (soup)
Brunoise Aux Quenelles (Brown Soup with Dumplings)

Hors D'oeuvres
Variés (A Variety)
Bouchées De Gibier ( Bites of Game)

Poisson (Fish)
Aloses Grillées, Au Vin Blanc ( Grilled Shad in White Sauce)

Releves (Removes)
Filet De Bœuf, à La Jardinière ( Filet of Beef  à La Jardinière)
Chapons, à La Reine, Aux Champignons (Capons a La Queen, with Mushrooms)

Entrees (Made Dishes)
Cailles, Sauce Périgneux (Quail with Périgneux Sauce)
Irish Stew

Rot (Roast)

Countreflancs (On the table countering the Roast)
Galantine De Dinde Aux Truffes (Jellied Turkey with Truffles)
Salade à La Russe  (Salad in the Russian Style)
Jambon De Westphalie (Westphalia Ham)
Pâté De Gibier (Game Pate)

Entremets (Sides)
Petits Pois (New Peas)
Epinards à La Crème ( Creamed Spinach)
Haricot Verts (Green Beans)
Pommes Parisienne (Apples in the Parisian Style)

Sucres (Sweets)
Creme Au Fraises ( Strawberries and Cream)
Pouding Aux Amandes (Pudding with Almonds)
Gelee Madere (Madeira Jelly)
Macedoine De Fruits (Macedonian Fruits)
Glaces Gateaux (Ice Cream Cakes)
Pièces Montées (Confectionery Showpieces)

Fruits and Dessert