The Virginia Housewife: or, Methodical Cook
By Mary Randolph 1762-1828
Baltimore: Plaskitt, Fite, 1838
TO CURE HERRINGS.
THE best method for preserving herrings, and which may be followed with ease, for a small family, is to take the brine left of your winter stock for beef, to the fishing place, and when the seine is hauled, to pick out the largest herrings, and throw them alive into the brine; let them remain twenty-four hours, take them out and lay them on sloping planks, that the brine may drain off; have a tight barrel, put some coarse alum salt at the bottom, then put in a layer of herrings--take care not to bruise them; sprinkle over it alum salt and some saltpetre, then fish, salt, and saltpetre, till the barrel is full; keep a board over it. Should they not make brine enough to cover them in a few weeks, you must add some, for they will be rusty if not kept under brine. The proper time to salt them is when they are quite fat: the scales will adhere closely to a lean herring, but will be loose on a fat one--the former is not fit to be eaten. Do not be sparing of salt when you put them up. When they are to be used, take a few out of brine, soak them an hour or two, scale them nicely, pull off the gills, and the only entrail they have will come with them; wash them clean and hang them up to dry. When to be broiled, take half a sheet of white paper, rub it over with butter, put the herring in, double the edges securely, and broil without burning it. The brine the herrings drink before they die, has a wonderful effect in preserving their juices: when one or two years old, they are equal to anchovies.
TO BAKE STURGEON.
GET a piece of sturgeon with the skin on, the piece next to the tail, scrape it well, cut out the gristle, and boil it about twenty minutes to take out the oil; take it up, pull off the large scales, and when cold, stuff it with forcemeat, made of bread crumbs, butter, chopped parsley, pepper and salt, put it in a Dutch oven just large enough to hold it, with a pint and half of water, a gill of red wine, one of mushroom catsup, some salt and pepper, stew it gently till the gravy is reduced to the quantity necessary to pour over it; take up your sturgeon carefully, thicken the gravy with a spoonful of butter rubbed into a large one of brown flour;--see that it is perfectly smooth when you put it in the dish.
TO MAKE STURGEON CUTLETS.
THE tail piece is the best; skin it and cut off the gristle, cut it into slices about half an inch thick, sprinkle over them pepper and salt, dredge them with flour, and fry them a nice light brown; have ready a pint of good gravy, seasoned with catsup, wine, and a little pounded cloves, and thickened with brown flour and butter; when the cutlets are cold, put them into the gravy and stew them a few minutes; garnish the dish with nice forcemeat balls and parsley fried crisp.
CUT them as for the cutlets, dredge them, and fry them nicely; dish them quickly lest they get cold; pour over melted butter with chopped parsley, and garnish with fried parsley.
TO BOIL STURGEON.
LEAVE the skin on, which must be nicely scraped, take out the gristle, rub it with salt, and let it lie an hour, then put it on in cold water with some salt and a few cloves of garlic; it must be dredged with flour before it is put into the water, skim it carefully, and when dished, pour over it melted butter with chopped parsley, a large spoonful of mushroom catsup, one of lemon pickle, and one of pepper vinegar; send some of it to table in a sauce boat;--the sturgeon being a dry fish, rich sauce is necessary.
TO BAKE A SHAD.
THE shad is a very indifferent fish unless it be large and fat; when you get a good one, prepare it nicely, put some forcemeat inside, and lay it at full length in a pan with a pint of water, a gill of red wine, one of mushroom catsup, a little pepper, vinegar, salt, a few cloves of garlic, and six cloves: stew it gently till the gravy is sufficiently reduced; there should always be a fish-slice with holes to lay the fish on, for the convenience of dishing without breaking it; when the fish is taken up, slip it carefully into the dish; thicken the gravy with butter and brown flour, and pour over it.
TO BOIL A SHAD.
GET a nice fat shad, fresh from the water, that the skin may not crack in boiling, put it in cold water on a slice, in a kettle of proper length, with a wine glass of pale vinegar, salt, a little garlic, and a bundle of parsley; when it is done, drain all the water from the fish, lay it in the dish, and garnish with scraped horse-radish; have a sauce boat of nice melted butter, to mix with the different catsups, as taste shall direct.
TO ROAST A SHAD.
FILL the cavity with good forcemeat, sew it up, and tie it on a board of proper size, cover it with bread crumbs, with some salt and pepper, set it before the fire to roast; when done on one side, turn it, tie it again, and when sufficiently done, pull out the thread, and serve it up with butter and parsley poured over it.
TO BROIL A SHAD.
SEPARATE one side from the back-bone, so that it will lie open without being split in two; wash it clean, dry it with a cloth, sprinkle some salt and pepper on it, and let it stand till you are ready to broil it; have the gridiron hot and well greased, broil it nicely, and pour over it melted butter.
TO BOIL ROCK FISH.
THE best part of the rock is the head and shoulders--clean it nicely, put it into the fish kettle with cold water and salt, boil it gently and skim it well; when done, drain off the water, lay it in the dish, and garnish with scraped horse-radish; have two boats of butter nicely melted with chopped parsley, or for a change, you may have anchovy butter; the roe and liver should be fried and served in separate dishes. If any of the rock be left, it will make a delicious dish next day;--pick it in small pieces, put it in a stew pan with a gill of water, a good lump of butter, some salt, a large spoonful of lemon pickle, and one of pepper vinegar--shake it over the fire till perfectly hot, and serve it up. It is almost equal to stewed crab.
TO FRY PERCH.
CLEAN the fish nicely, but do not take out the roes; dry them on a cloth, sprinkle some salt, and dredge them with flour, lay them separately on a board; when one side is dry, turn them, sprinkle salt and dredge the other side; be sure the lard boils when you put the fish in, and fry them with great care; they should be a yellowish brown when done. Send melted butter or anchovy sauce in a boat.
TO PICKLE OYSTERS.
SELECT the largest oysters, drain off their liquor, and wash them in clean water; pick out the pieces of shells that may be left, put them in a stew pan with water proportioned to the number of oysters, some salt, blades of mace, and whole black pepper; stew them a few minutes, then put them in a pot, and when cold, add as much pale vinegar as will give the liquor an agreeable acid.
TO MAKE A CURRY OF CATFISH.
TAKE the white channel catfish, cut off their heads, skin and clean them, cut them in pieces four inches long, put as many as will be sufficient for a dish into a stew pan with a quart of water, two onions, and chopped parsley; let them stew gently till the water is reduced to half a pint, take the fish out and lay them on a dish, cover them to keep them hot, rub a spoonful of butter into one of flour, add a large tea-spoonful of curry powder, thicken the gravy with it, shake it over the fire a few minutes, and pour it over the fish; be careful to have the gravy smooth.
TO DRESS A COD'S HEAD AND SHOULDERS.
TAKE out the gills and the blood from the bone, wash the head very clean, rub over it a little salt, then lay it on your fish plate; throw in the water a good handful of salt, with a glass of vinegar, then put in the fish, and let it boil gently half an hour; if it is a large one, three quarters; take it up very carefully, strip the skin nicely off, set it before a brisk fire, dredge it all over with flour, and baste it well with butter; when the froth begins to rise, throw over it some very fine white bread crumbs; you must keep basting it all the time to make it froth well; when it is a fine light brown, dish it up, and garnish it with a lemon cut in slices, scraped horse-radish, barberries, a few small fish fried and laid around it, or fried oysters--cut the roe and liver in slices, and lay over it a little of the lobster out of the sauce in lumps, and then serve it up.
TO MAKE SAUCE FOR THE COD'S HEAD.
TAKE a lobster, if it be alive, stick a skewer in the vent of the tail, (to keep the water out,) throw a handful of salt in the water; when it boils, put in the lobster, and boil it half an hour; if it has spawn on it, pick them off, and pound them exceedingly fine in a marble mortar, and put them into half a pound of good melted butter, then take the meat out of the lobster, pull it in bits, and put it in your butter, with a meat spoonful of lemon pickle, and the same of walnut catsup, a slice of lemon, one or two slices of horse-radish, a little beaten mace, salt and cayenne to your taste; boil them one minute, then take out the horse-radish and lemon, and serve it up in your sauce boat.
N. B. If you cannot get lobsters, you may make shrimp, cockle, or muscle sauce, the same way; if there can be no shell fish got, you then may add two anchovies cut small, a spoonful of walnut liquor, a large onion stuck with cloves--strain and put it in the sauce boat.
TO DRESS A SALT COD.
STEEP your salt fish in water all night, with a glass of vinegar; it will take out the salt, and make it taste like fresh fish; the next day boil it; when it is enough take off the skin, pull it in fleaks into your dish, then pour egg sauce over it, or parsnips boiled and beat fine, with butter and cream; send it to the table on a water plate, for it will soon grow cold.
MATELOTE OF ANY KIND OF FIRM FISH.
CUT the fish in pieces six inches long, put it in a pot with onion, parsley, thyme, mushrooms, a little spice, pepper and salt--add red wine and water enough for gravy, set it on a quick fire and reduce it one-third, thicken with a spoonful of butter and two of flour; put it in a dish with bits of bread fried in butter, and pour the gravy over it.
CHOWDER, A SEA DISH.
TAKE any kind of firm fish, cut it in pieces six inches long, sprinkle salt and pepper over each piece, cover the bottom of a small Dutch oven with slices of salt pork about half boiled, lay in the fish, strewing a little chopped onion between; cover with crackers that have been soaked soft in milk, pour over it two gills of white wine, and two of water; put on the top of the oven, and stew it gently about an hour; take it out carefully, and lay it in a deep dish; thicken the gravy with a little flour and a spoonful of butter, add some chopped parsley, boil it a few minutes, and pour it over the fish--serve it up hot.
TO PICKLE STURGEON.
THE best sturgeons are the small ones, about four feet long without the head, and the best part is the one near the tail. After the sturgeon is split through the back bone, take a piece with the skin on, which is essential to its appearance and goodness, cut off the gristle, scrape the skin well, wash it, and salt it--let it lie twenty-four hours, wipe off the salt, roll it, and tie it around with twine, put it on in a good deal of cold water, let it boil till you can run a straw easily into the skin, take it up, pull off the large scales, and when cold, put it in a pot, and cover it with one part vinegar, and two of salt and water; keep it closely stopped, and when served, garnish with green fennel.
TO CAVEACH FISH.
CUT the fish in pieces the thickness of your hand, wash it and dry it in a cloth, sprinkle on some pepper and salt, dredge it with flour, and fry it a nice brown; when it gets cold, put it in a pot with a little chopped onion between the layers, take as much vinegar and water as will cover it, mix with it some oil, pounded mace, and whole black pepper, pour it on, and stop the pot closely. This is a very convenient article, as it makes an excellent and ready addition to a dinner or supper. When served up, it should be garnished with green fennel, or parsley.
TO DRESS COD FISH.
BOIL the fish tender, pick it from the bones, take an equal quantity of Irish potatos, or parsnips boiled and chopped, and the same of onions well boiled; add a sufficiency of melted butter, some grated nutmeg, pepper, and salt, with a little brandy or wine; rub them in a mortar till well mixed; if too stiff, liquify it with cream or thickened milk, put paste in the bottom of a dish, pour in the fish, and bake it. For change, it may be baked in the form of patties.
COD FISH PIE.
SOAK the fish, boil it and take off the skin, pick the meat from the bones, and mince it very fine; take double the quantity of your fish, of stale bread grated; pour over it as much new milk, boiling hot, as will wet it completely, add minced parsley, nutmeg, pepper, and made mustard, with as much melted butter as will make it sufficiently rich; the quantity must be determined by that of the other ingredients--beat these together very well, add the minced fish, mix it all, cover the bottom of the dish with good paste, pour the fish in, put on a lid and bake it.
TO DRESS ANY KIND OF SALTED FISH.
TAKE the quantity necessary for the dish, wash them, and lay them in fresh water for a night; then put them on the tin plate with holes, and place it in the fish kettle--sprinkle over it pounded cloves and pepper, with four cloves of garlic; put in a bundle of sweet herbs and parsley, a large spoonful of tarragon, and two of common vinegar, with a pint of wine; roll one quarter of a pound of butter in two spoonsful of flour, cut it in small pieces, and put it over the fish--cover it closely, and simmer it over a slow fire half an hour; take the fish out carefully, and lay it in the dish, set it over hot water, and cover it till the gravy has boiled a little longer--take out the garlic and herbs, pour it over the fish, and serve it up. It is very good when eaten cold with salad, garnished with parsley.
TO FRICASSEE COD SOUNDS AND TONGUES.
SOAK them all night in fresh water, take off the skins, cut them in two pieces, and boil them in milk and water till quite tender, drain them in a colander, and season with nutmeg, pepper, and a little salt--take as much new milk as will make sauce for it, roll a good lump of butter in flour, melt it in the milk, put the fish in, set it over the fire, and stir it till thick enough, and serve it up.
AN EXCELLENT WAY TO DRESS FISH.
DREDGE the fish well with flour, sprinkle salt and pepper on them, and fry them a nice brown; set them by to get cold; put a quarter of a pound of butter in a frying pan; when it boils, fry tomatos with the skins taken off, parsley nicely picked, and a very little chopped onion; when done, add as much water as will make sauce for the fish--season it with pepper, salt, and pounded cloves; add some wine and mushroom catsup, put the fish in, and when thoroughly heated, serve it up.
BOIL as many large white perch as will be sufficient for the dish; do not take off their heads, and be careful not to break their skins; when cold, place them in the dish, and cover them with savoury jelly broken.
A nice piece of rock-fish is excellent done in the same way.
FISH IN JELLY.
FILL a deep glass dish half full of jelly--have as many small fish-moulds as will lie conveniently in it, fill them with blanc mange; when they are cold, and the jelly set, lay them on it, as if going in different directions; put in a little more jelly, and let it get cold, to keep the fish in their places--then fill the dish so as to cover them. The jelly should be made of hog's feet, very light coloured, and perfectly transparent.
TO MAKE EGG SAUCE FOR A SALT COD.
BOIL four eggs hard, first half chop the white, then put in the yelks, and chop them both together, but not very small; put them into half a pound of good melted butter, and let it boil up--then pour it on the fish.
TO DRESS COD SOUNDS.
STEEP your sounds as you do the salt cod, and boil them in a large quantity of milk and water; when they are very tender and white, take them up, and drain the water out and skin them; then pour the egg sauce boiling hot over them, and serve them up.
TO STEW CARP.
GUT and scale your fish, wash and dry them well with a clean cloth, dredge them with flour, fry them in lard until they are a light brown, and then put them in a stew pan with half a pint of water, and half a pint of red wine, a meat spoonful of lemon pickle, the same of walnut catsup, a little mushroom powder and cayenne to your taste, a large onion stuck with cloves, and a stick of horse-radish; cover your pan close up to keep in the steam; let them stew gently over a stove fire, till the gravy is reduced to just enough to cover your fish in the dish; then take the fish out, and put them on the dish you intend for the table; set the gravy on the fire, and thicken it with flour, and a large lump of butter; boil it a little, and strain it over your fish; garnish them with pickled mushrooms and scraped horse-radish, and send them to the table.
TO BOIL EELS.
CLEAN the eels, and cut off their heads, dry them, and turn them round on your fish plate, boil them in salt and water, and make parsley sauce for them.
TO PITCHCOCK EELS.
SKIN and wash your eels, then dry them with a cloth, sprinkle them with pepper, salt, and a little dried sage, turn them backward and forward, and skewer them; rub a gridiron with beef suet, broil them a nice brown, put them on a dish with good melted butter, and lay around fried parsley.
TO BROIL EELS.
WHEN you have skinned and cleansed your eels as before, rub them with the yelk of an egg, strew over them bread crumbs, chopped parsley, sage, pepper, and salt; baste them well with butter, and set them in a dripping pan; serve them up with parsley and butter for sauce.
TO SCOLLOP OYSTERS.
WHEN the oysters are opened, put them in a bowl, and wash them out of their own liquor; put some in the scollop shells, strew over them a few bread crumbs, and lay a slice of butter on them, then more oysters, bread crumbs, and a slice of butter on the top; put them into a Dutch oven to brown, and serve them up in the shells.
TO FRY OYSTERS.
TAKE a quarter of a hundred of large oysters, wash them and roll them in grated bread, with pepper and salt, and fry them a light brown; if you choose, you may add a little parsley, shred fine. They are a proper garnish for calves' head, or most made dishes.
TO MAKE OYSTER LOAVES.
TAKE little round loaves, cut off the tops, scrape out all the crumbs, then put the oysters into a stew pan with the crumbs that came out of the loaves, a little water, and a good lump of butter; stew them together ten or fifteen minutes, then put in a spoonful of good cream, fill your loaves, lay the bit of crust carefully on again, set them in the oven to crisp. Three are enough for a side dish.