The Virginia Housewife: or, Methodical Cook
By Mary Randolph 1762-1828
Baltimore: Plaskitt, Fite, 1838
DIRECTIONS FOR CURING BEEF.
PREPARE your brine in the middle of October, after the following manner: get a thirty gallon cask, take out one head, drive in the bung, and put some pitch on it, to prevent leaking. See that the cask is quite tight and clean. Put into it one pound of saltpetre powdered, fifteen quarts of salt, and fifteen gallons of cold water; stir it frequently, until dissolved, throw over the cask a thick cloth, to keep out the dust; look at it often and take off the scum. These proportions have been accurately ascertained- fifteen gallons of cold water will exactly hold, in solution, fifteen quarts of good clean Liverpool salt, and one pound of saltpetre: this brine will be strong enough to bear up an egg: if more salt be added, it will fall to the bottom without strengthening the brine, the water being already saturated. This brine will cure all the beef which a private family can use in the course of the winter, and requires nothing more to be done to it except occasionally skimming the dross that rises. It must be kept in a cool, dry place. For salting your beef, get a molasses hogshead and saw it in two, that the beef may have space to lie on; bore some holes in the bottom of these tubs, and raise them on one side about an inch, that the bloody brine may run off.
Be sure that your beef is newly killer- rub each piece very well with good Liverpool salt- a vast deal depends upon rubbing the salt into every part- it is unnecessary to put saltpetre on it; sprinkle a good deal of salt on the bottom of the tub. When the beef is well salted, lay it in the tub, and be sure you put the fleshy side downward. Put a great deal of salt on your beef after it is packed in the tub; this protects it from animals who might eat, if they could smell it, and does not waste the salt, for the beef can only dissolve a certain portion. You must let the beef lie in salt ten days, then take it out, brush off the salt, and wipe it with a damp cloth; put it in the brine with a bit of board and weight to keep it under. In about ten days it will look red and be fit for the table, but it will be red much sooner when the brine becomes older. The best time to begin to salt beef is the latter end of October, if the weather be cool, and from that time have it in succession. When your beef is taken out of the tub, stir the salt about to dry, that it may be ready for the next pieces. Tongues are cured in the same manner.
TO DRY BEEF FOR SUMMER USE.
THE best pieces for this purpose are the thin briskets, or that part of the plate which is farthest from the shoulder of the animal, the round and rib pieces which are commonly used for roasting. These should not be cut with long ribs and the back-bones must be sawed off as close as possible, that the piece may lay flat in the dish. About the middle of February, select your beef from an animal well fatted with corn, and which, when killed, will weigh one hundred and fifty per quarter- larger oxen are always coarse. Salt the pieces as directed, let them lie one fortnight, then put them in brine, where they must remain three weeks: take them out at the end of the time, wipe them quite dry, rub them over with bran, and hang them in a cool, dry, and, if possible, dark place, that the flies may not get to them: they must be suspended, and not allowed to touch any thing. It will be necessary, in the course of the summer, to look them over occasionally, and after a long wet season, to lay them in the sun a few hours. Your tongues may be dried in the same manner. Make a little hole in the root, run a twine through it, and suspend it. These dried meats must be put in a good quantity of water, to
soak, the night before they are to be used. In boiling, it is absolutely necessary to have a large quantity of water to put the beef in while the water is cold, to boil steadily, skimming the pot, until the bones are ready to fall out; and, if a tongue, till the skin peels off with perfect ease: the skin must also be taken from the beef. The housekeeper who will buy good ox beef, and follow these directions exactly, may be assured of always having delicious beef on her table. Ancient prejudice has established a notion, that meat killed in the decrease of the moon, will draw up when cooked. The true cause of this shrinking, may be found in the old age of the animal, or in its diseased state, at the time of killing. The best age is from three to five years.
Few persons are aware of the injury they sustain, by eating the flesh of diseased animals. None but the Jewish butchers, who are paid exclusively for it, attend to this important circumstance. The best rule for judging that I have been able to discover, is the colour of the fat. When the fat of beef is a high shade of yellow, I reject it. If the fat of veal, mutton, lamb or pork, have the slightest tinge of yellow. I avoid it as diseased. The same rule holds good when applied to poultry.
TO CORN BEEF IN HOT WEATHER.
TAKE a piece of thin brisket or plate, cut out the ribs nicely, rub it on both sides well with two large spoonsful of pounded saltpetre; pour on it a gill of molasses and a quart of salt; rub them both in; put it in a vessel just large enough to hold it, but not tight, for the bloody brine must run off as it makes, or the meat will spoil. Let it be well covered, top, bottom and sides, with the molasses and salt. In four days you may boil it, tied up in a cloth with the salt, &c. about it: when done, take the skin off nicely, and serve it up. If you have an ice-house or refrigerator, it will be best to keep it there. A fillet or breast of veal, and a leg or rack of mutton, are excellent done in the same way.
ROASTING, BOILING, FRYING, &C.
IN roasting butcher's meat, be careful not to run the spit through the nice parts: let the piece lie in water one hour, then wash it out, wipe it perfectly dry, and put it on the spit. Set it before a clear, steady fire: sprinkle some salt on it, and when it becomes hot, baste it for a time with salt and water: then put a good spoonful of nice lard into the dripping-pan, and when melted, continue to baste with it. When your meat, of whatever kind, has been down some time, but before it begins to look brown, cover it with paper and baste on it; when it is nearly done, take off the peper, dredge it with flour, turn the spit for some minutes very quick, and baste all the time to raise a froth- after which, serve it up. When mutton is roasted, after you take off the paper, loosen the skin and peel it off carefully, then dredge and froth it up. Beef and mutton must not be roasted as much as veal, lamb, or pork; the two last must be skinned in the manner directed for mutton. You may pour a little melted butter in the dish with veal, but all the others must be served without sauce, and garnished with horse-radish, nicely scraped. Be careful not to let a particle of dry flour be seen on the meat- it has a very ill appearance. Beef may look brown, but the whiter the other meats are, the more genteel are they, and if properly roasted, they may be perfectly done, and quite white. A loin of veal, and hind quarter of lamb, should be dished with the kidneys uppermost; and be sure to joint every thing that is to be separated at table, or it will be impossible to carve neatly. For those who must have gravy with these meats, let it be made in any way they like, and served in a boat. No meat can be well roasted except on a spit turned by a jack, and before a steady clear fire- other methods are no better than baking. Many cooks are in the habit of half boiling the meats to plump them as they turn it, before they are spitted, but it destroys their fine flavour. Whatever is to be boiled, must be put into cold water with a little salt, which will cook them regularly. When they are put in boiling water, the outer side is done too much, before the inside gets heated. Nice lard is much better than butter for basting roasted meats, or for frying. To choose butchers' meat, you must see that the fat is not yellow, and that the lean parts are of a fine close grain, a lively colour, and will feel tender when pinched. Poultry should be well covered with white fat; if the bottom of the breast bone be gristly, it is young, but if it be a hard bone, it is an old one. Fish are judged by the liveliness of their eyes, and bright red of their gills. Dredge every thing with flour before it is put on to boil, and be sure to add salt to the water.
Fish, and all other articles for frying, after being nicely prepared, should be laid on a board and dredged with flour or meal mixed with salt: when it becomes dry on one side, turn it, and dredge the other. For broiling, have very clear coals, sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the pieces, and when done, dish them, and pour over some melted butter and chopped parsley- this is for broiled veal,wild fowl, birds or poultry: beef-steaks and mutton chops require only a table-spoonful of hot water to be poured over. Slice an onion in the dish before you put in the steaks or chops, and garnish both with rasped horse-radish. To have viands served in perfection, the dishes should be made hot, either by setting them over hot water, or by putting some in them, and the instant the meats are laid in and garnished, put on a pewter dish cover. A dinner looks very enticing, when the steam rises from each dish on removing the covers, and if it be judiciously ordered, will have a double relish. Profusion is not elegance- a dinner justly calculated for the company, and consisting for the greater part of small articles, correctly prepared, and neatly served up, will make a much more pleasing appearance to the sight, and give a far greater gratification to the appetite, than a table loaded with food, and from the multiplicity of dishes, unavoidably neglected in the preparation, and served up cold.
There should always be a supply of brown flour kept in readiness to thicken brown gravies, which must be prepared in the following manner: put a pint of flour in a Dutch oven, with some coals under it; keep constantly stirring it until it is uniformly of a dark brown, but none of it burnt, which would look like dirt in the gravy. All kitchens should be provided with a saw for trimming meat, and also with larding needles.
TAKE the bone from a round of beef, fill the space with a forcemeat made of the crumbs of a stale loaf, four ounces of marrow, two heads of garlic chopped with thyme and parsley, some nutmeg,cloves,pepper and salt, mix it to a paste with the yelks of four eggs beaten, stuff the lean part of the round with it, and make balls of the remainder; sew a fillet of strong linen wide enough to keep it round and compact, put it in a vessel just sufficiently large to hold it, add a pint of red wine, cover it with sheets of tin or iron, set it in a brick oven properly heated, and bake it three hours; when done, skim the fat from the gravy, thicken it with brown flour, add some mushroom and walnut catsup, and serve it up garnished with forcemeat balls fried. It is still better when eaten cold with sallad.
BRISKET OF BEEF BAKED.
BONE a brisket of beef, and make holes in it with a sharp knife about an inch apart, fill them alternately with fat bacon,parsley and oysters, all chopped small and seasoned with pounded cloves and nutmeg,pepper and salt, dredge it well with flour, lay it in a pan with a pint of red wine and a large spoonful of lemon pickle; bake it three hours, take the fat from the gravy and strain it; serve it up garnished with green pickles.
CUT slices from a fat rump of beef six inches long and half an inch thick, beat them well with a pestle; make a forcemeat of bread crumbs,fat bacon chopped, parsley, a little onion, some shred suet, pounded mace,pepper and salt; mix it up with the yelks of eggs, and spread a thin layer over each slice of beef, roll it up tight, and secure the rolls with skewers, set them before the fire, and turn them till they are a nice brown; have ready a pint of good gravy, thickened with brown flour and a spoonful of butter, a gill of red wine, with two spoonsful of mushroom catsup, lay the rolls in it, and stew them till tender; garnish with forcemeat balls.
TO STEW A RUMP OF BEEF.
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 stewed 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.
A FRICANDO OF BEEF.
CUT a few slices of beef six inches long, two or three wide, and one thick, lard them with bacon, dredge them well, and make them a nice brown before a brisk fire; stew them half an hour in a well seasoned gravy, put some stewed sorrel or spinage in the dish, lay on the beef, and pour over a sufficient quantity of gravy; garnish with fried balls.
AN EXCELLENT METHOD OF DRESSING BEEF.
TAKE a rib roasting piece that has been hanging ten days or a fortnight, bone it neatly, rub some salt over it and roll it tight, binding it around with twine, put the spit through the inner fold without sticking it in the flesh, skewer it well and roast it nicely; when nearly done, dredge and froth it; garnish with scraped horse-radish.
TO COLLAR A FLANK OF BEEF.
GET a nice flank of beef, rub it well with a large portion of saltpetre and common salt, let it remain ten days, then wash it clean, take off the outer and inner skin with the gristle, spread it on a board, and cover the inside with the following mixture: parsley,sage,thyme chopped fine, pepper,salt and pounded cloves; roll it up, sew a cloth over it, and bandage that with tape, boil it gently five or six hours, when cold, lay it on a board without undoing it, put another board on the top, with a heavy weight on it; let it remain twenty-four hours, take off the bandages, cut a thin slice from each end, serve it up garnished with green pickle and sprigs of parsley.
TO MAKE HUNTER'S BEEF.
SELECT a fine fat round weighing about twenty-five pounds, take three ounces saltpetre, one ounce of cloves, half an ounce of alspice, a large nutmeg, and a quart of salt; pound them all together very fine, take the bone out, rub it well with this mixture on both sides, put some of it at the bottom of a tub just large enough to hold the beef, lay it in and strew the remainder on the top, rub it well every day for two weeks, and spread the mixture over it; at the end of this time, wash the beef, bind it with tape, to keep it round and compact, filling the hole where the bone was with a piece of fat, lay it in a pan of convenient size, strew a little suet over the top, and pour on it a pint of water, cover the pan with a coarse crust and a thick paper over that, it will take five hours baking; when cold take off the tape. It is a delicious relish at twelve o'clock, or for supper, eaten with vinegar,mustard,oil, or sallad. Skim the grease from the gravy and bottle it; it makes an excellent seasoning for any made dish.
A NICE LITTLE DISH OF BEEF.
MINCE cold roast beef, fat and lean, very fine, add chopped onion,pepper,salt, and a little good gravy, fill scollop shells two parts full, and fill them up with potatos mashed smooth with cream, put a bit of butter on the top, and set them in an oven to brown.
THE best part of the beef for steaks, is the seventh and eighth ribs, the fat and lean are better mixed, and it is more tender than the rump if it be kept long enough; cut the steaks half an inch thick, beat them a little, have fine clear coals, rub the bars of the gridiron with a cloth dipped in lard before you put it over the coals, that none may drip to cause a bad smell, put no salt on till you dish them, broil them quick, turning them frequently; the dish must be very hot, put some slices of onion in it, lay in the steaks, sprinkle a little salt, and pour over them a spoonful of water and one of mushroom catsup, both made boiling hot, garnish with scraped horse-radish, and put on a hot dish cover. Every thing must be in readiness, for the great excellence of a beef steak lies in having it immediately from the gridiron.
TO HASH BEEF.
Cut slices of raw beef, put them in a stew pan with a little water, some catsup, a clove of garlic,pepper and salt, stew them till done, thicken the gravy with a lump of butter rubbed into brown flour. A hash may be made of any kind of meat that has been cooked, but it is not so good, and it is necessary to have a gravy prepared and seasoned, and keep the hash over the fire only a few minutes to make it hot.
BEEF STEAK PIE.
CUT nice steaks, and stew them till half done, put a puff paste in the dish, lay in the steaks with a few slices of boiled ham, season the gravy very high, pour it in the dish, put on a lid of paste and bake it.
GET a round of beef,lard it well, and put it in a Dutch oven; cut the meat from a shin of beef, or any coarse piece in thin slices, put round the sides and over the top some slices of bacon,salt,pepper,onion,thyme,parsley,cellery tops, or seed pounded, and some carrots cut small, strew the pieces of beef over, cover it with water, let it stew very gently till perfectly done, take out the round, strain the gravy, let it stand to be cold, take off the grease carefully, beat the whites of four eggs, mix a little water with them, put them to the gravy, let it boil till it looks clear, strain it, and when cold, put it over the beef.