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.

1 comment:

  1. What is mushroom catsup? Is it just rendered mushrooms?