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Chateaubriand Steak

François-René, Vicomte de Chateaubriand (September 4, 1768 – July 4, 1848) was, in his day, a celebrated author, however his name lives on in the tender beef dish named after him. That he was the inspiration is not in doubt, however, the history of the dish gets muddled from that point on. Was it created by his chef, Montmireil? Was it prepared by the Champeaux restaurant in honor of Chateaubriand’s celebrated 1811 work, Itinéraire de Paris à Jérusalem (Itinerary from Paris to Jerusalem). Still others claim that it derives its name from the famed Chateaubriant beef cattle, raised by the family.

Regardless, this dish, once made from a sirloin, now refers to meat from the tenderest part of a beef tenderloin (the most expensive cut in the whole cow) with a sauce made from broth, butter, shallots, wine and herbs.

Chateaubriand with Bearnaise by FotoosVanRobin from Rotterdam, Netherlands - Chateaubriand with Bearnaise Uploaded by FAEP. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons -
Chateaubriand with Bearnaise @ Urola, San Sebastian. 16 April 2007.

The following recipes, from The Royal Cookery Book (Jules Gouffé, 1869) give some idea of the complexity that goes into preparing this classic French dish.

"The
The basic recipe and it’s “footnote”.
Now for the sauce...
Now for the sauce…
Espagnole Sauce, one of Careme's four "Mother Sauces"
Espagnole Sauce, one of Careme’s four “Mother Sauces”
Maitre d'Hotel Butter
And finally, the Maitre d’Hotel Butter.

 

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Pike with Pudding in the Belly

In his diary (1752-1802) Parson Woodforde recounts, with a gastronome’s delight, the details of many a meal. These peeks into the past give a wonderful feeling of what life must have been like for the Austen family, social as well as historical contemporaries of the parson.

The following entry from June 4, 1777, describes one such meal:

pike

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In his diaries, Woodforde often mentions fishing and Pike were often caught. This large, carnivorous fish is considered particularly good sport among anglers and is still sought after, today. Elizabeth Moxon’s 1764 cookbook, English Housewifry: Exemplified in Above Four Hundred and Fifty Receipts Giving Directions in Most Parts of Cookery … with an Appendix Containing Upwards of Sixty Receipts, offers the following recipe for this dish:

How to roast a Pike with a Pudding in the Belly
Take a large pike, scale and clean it, draw it at the gills. To make a pudding for the Pike, take a large handful of breadcrumbs, as much beef -suet shred fine, two eggs, a little pepper and salt, a little grated nutmeg, a little parsley, sweet marjoram and lemon peel shred fine; so mix it altogether, put it into the belly of your pike, skewer it all around, place it in an earthen dish with a lump of butter over it, a little salt and flour, so set it in the oven. An hour will roast it.

Continue reading Pike with Pudding in the Belly

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Neat’s Tongue

Perhaps one of the most famous recipes in literature begins, “Eye of newt, and toe of frog, Wool of bat, and tongue of dog, Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting, Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing,–“. This is, of course, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, but when I came across the following recipe in Eliza Rundell’s A New System of Domestic Cookery, it seemed as if it might fit right in to the list of inedible ingredients. “Cold Neat’s Tongue”, as it was called, was suggested as an appropriate side dish for a supper party in 1807,

Hot suppers are not much in use where people dine very late. When required, the top and bottom, or either, may be Game. Fowls. Rabbit. Boiled Fish, such as Soles, Mackerel. Oysters stewed or scalloped. French Beans. Cauliflower, or Jerusalem Artichokes, in white Sauce. Brocoli with Eggs. Stewed Spinach and ditto. Sweetbreads. Small Birds. Mushrooms. Potatoes. Scallop, &c. Cutlets. Roast Onions. Salmagundy. Buttered Eggs on Toast. Cold Neat’s Tongue. Ham. Collared things. Hunter’s Beef sliced. Rusks buttered, with Anchovies on. Grated Hung Beef with butter, with or without Rusks. Grated Cheese round, and Butter dressed in the middle of a plate. Radishes ditto. Custards in glasses with Sippets. Oysters cold or pickled. Potted Meals. Fish. Birds. Cheese, &c. Good plain Cake sliced. Pies of Bird, or Fruit. Crabs. Lobster Prawns. Cray-fish. Any of the list of sweet things. Fruits. A Sandwich set with any of the above articles, placed a little distance from each other on the table, looks well, without the tray, if preferred.


The lighter the things the better they appear, and glass intermixed has the best effect. Jellies, different coloured things, and flowers, add to the beauty of the table. An elegant supper may be served at a small expense by those who know how to make trifles that are in the house form the greatest part of the meal.

The Hereford Bull was undoubtedly a common sight in Austen's Day.
The Hereford Bull was undoubtedly a common sight in Austen’s Day. Exports of this breed began in 1816.

 

I, for one, though, could not imagine what a “Neat” was, let alone how to prepare it’s tongue, hot or cold. Continue reading Neat’s Tongue

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Mr. Darcy’s Favourite Beef-Steak Dinner

Mr Darcy’s Favourite Beef-Steak Dinner

“We sate down to dinner a little after five, and had some beef-steaks and a boiled fowl, but no oyster sauce.”
Jane Austen to Cassandra
October 24, 1798

 

Georgian England was famous for its beef. All parts of the animal were used, from the cheeks to the tail, and these in turn were prepared in any number of way: Soups, pies, puddings, sausages, roasts, ragouts, steaks and more.  Many of the recipes are still familiar to us today. This recipe, with its shallot gravy is a delicious take on traditional steak and as a bonus, cooks up in about ten minutes. This is likely to have been one of Darcy’s favourites.

To Fry Beef-Steaks
Take rump steaks, pepper and salt them, fry them in a little butter very quick and brown; take them out, and put them into a dish, pour the fat out of the frying pan, and then take a half a pint of hot gravy; if no gravy, half a pint of hot water, and put into the pan, and a little butter rolled in flour, a little pepper and salt, and two or three shallots chopped fine: boil them up in your pan for two minutes, then put it over the steaks, and send them to the table.
Hannah Glasse: The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy

  • 2- 454 g / 16 oz /1 Lb Rump Steaks
  • 2tbsp Butter, divided
  • 1 tbsp Flour
  • 240 ml / 8 fl oz /1 cup Beef Broth
  • 3 Shallots, sliced in fine rings
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Melt one tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over a medium to high heat. Add your steaks and salt and pepper them to taste. Fry them 3-5 minutes per side, turning once, until they are completely brown and crispy. Remove them from the pan to your serving plate

Add the broth to the pan and allow it to come to a boil. Roll the remaining tablespoon of butter in the flour and add to the hot broth, stirring well to avoid lumps. Add the shallots, salt and pepper to the gravy and boil them all together for 2 minutes. Pour this sauce over the steaks and serve them immediately.

Serves 4

 


Excerpted from Cooking with Jane Austen and Friends by Laura Boyle.

Laura Boyle is fascinated by all aspects of Jane Austen’s life. She is the proprietor of Austenation: Regency Accessories, creating custom hats, bonnets, reticules and more for customers around the globe. Cooking with Jane Austen and Friends is her first book. Her greatest joy is the time she is able to spend in her home with her family.

 

 

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Picnicking, Box Hill Style

picnicking at Box Hill

Picnicking, Box Hill Style

Two or three more of the chosen only were to be admitted to join them, and it was to be done in a quiet, unpretending, elegant way, infinitely superior to the bustle and preparation, the regular eating and drinking, and picnic parade of the Eltons and the Sucklings.
-Emma

Ah! The picnic- what other meal is so synonmous with summer? Drawing it’s name from the 16th C. French pique-nique which means “to pack a trifle” picnicking began as a kind of pot luck dinner where everyone brought a dish to be shared. The word did not appear in print in English until the early 1800’s. It appears in Jane Austen’s Emma, as the neighborhood plans an outing at Box Hill. Though the word picnic commonly refers to a simple outdoor affair, viewers of A&E’s Emma (1997) can see just how much toil and work was required by cooks and servants to provide for this “fine day.”

Picnicking soon became standard entertainment after organized hunts (a good idea of this can be seen in Gosford Park, 2001) and grew in scale and grandeur. One Victorian writer, Mrs. Beeton, whose Book of Household Management appeared in 24 monthly parts between 1859–1861 lists the following as a

BILL OF FARE
FOR A PICNIC FOR 40 PERSONS

A joint of cold roast beef, a joint of cold boiled beef, 2 ribs of lamb, 2 shoulders of lamb, 4 roast fowls, 2 roast ducks, 1 ham, 1 tongue, 2 veal-and-ham pies, 2 pigeon pies, 6 medium-sized lobsters, 1 piece of collared calf’s head, 18 lettuces, 6 baskets of salad, 6 cucumbers.

Stewed fruit well sweetened, and put into glass bottles well corked; 3 or 4 dozen plain pastry biscuits to eat with the stewed fruit, 2 dozen fruit turnovers, 4 dozen cheesecakes, 2 cold cabinet puddings in moulds, 2 blancmanges in moulds, a few jam puffs, 1 large cold plum-pudding (this must be good), a few baskets of fresh fruit, 3 dozen plain biscuits, a piece of cheese, 6 lbs. of butter (this, of course, includes the butter for tea), 4 quartern loaves of household broad, 3 dozen rolls, 6 loaves of tin bread (for tea), 2 plain plum cakes, 2 pound cakes, 2 sponge cakes, a tin of mixed biscuits, 1/2 lb, of tea. Coffee is not suitable for a picnic, being difficult to make.

Things not to be forgotten at a Picnic
A stick of horseradish, a bottle of mint-sauce well corked, a bottle of salad dressing, a bottle of vinegar, made mustard, pepper, salt, good oil, and pounded sugar. If it can be managed, take a little ice. It is scarcely necessary to say that plates, tumblers, wine-glasses, knives, forks, and spoons, must not be forgotten; as also teacups and saucers, 3 or 4 teapots, some lump sugar, and milk, if this last-named article cannot be obtained in the neighbourhood. Take 3 corkscrews.

Beverages
3 dozen quart bottles of ale, packed in hampers; ginger-beer, soda-water, and lemonade, of each 2 dozen bottles; 6 bottles of sherry, 6 bottles of claret, champagne à discrétion, and any other light wine that may be preferred, and 2 bottles of brandy. Water can usually be obtained so it is useless to take it.

You can imagine the work required for such a event! By 1900 picnics had become smaller, portable feasts, such as we are used to today. No matter what the size, or occasion though, picnics remain a favorite way to spend a summertime meal, so grab a blanket and sandwich and let’s go!

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Brawn: A favorite Christmas treat

On one side was a table occupied by some chattering girls, cutting up silk and gold paper; and on the other were tressels and trays, bending under the weight of brawn and cold pies, where riotous boys were holding high revel; the whole completed by a roaring Christmas fire, which seemed determined to be heard, in spite of all the noise of the others.
Persuasion

Christmas celebrations wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t pull out all those favorite recipes year after year. For some people it’s cookies and cakes, for others a particular bread or main dish. The Georgians were no exception and their celebrations called for many party foods- traditional favorites that could be made ahead and brought out to tempt company. Whether it was the Austen’s “Black Butter”, White Soup or the famed Christmas Pudding. Another favorite dish was Brawn or, served cold, Souse. This dish, now commonly called Headcheese, was made from pork and bones spiced, boiled and set to cool in molds. The result, turned out on a board, was similar to today’s Jell-O and was served with mustard.

Brawn
To a pig’s head weighing 6 lbs. allow 1 1/2 lb. lean beef, 2 tablespoonfuls of salt, 2 teaspoonfuls of pepper, a little cayenne, 6 pounded cloves. Mode-Cut off the cheeks and salt them, unless the head be small, when all may be used. After carefully cleaning the head, put it on in sufficient cold water to cover it, with the beef, and skim it just before it boils. A head weighing 6 lbs. will require boiling from 2 to 3 hours. When sufficiently boiled to come off the bones easily, put it into a hot pan, remove the bones, and chop the meat with a sharp knife before the fire, together with the beef. It is necessary to do this as quickly as possible to prevent the fat settling in it. Sprinkle in the seasoning, which should have been previously mixed. Stir it well and put it quickly into a brawn-tin if you have one; if not, a cake-tin or mould will answer the purpose, if the meat is well pressed with weights, which must not be removed for several hours. When quite cold, dip the tin into boiling water for a minute or two, and the preparation will turn out and be fit for use. Time- from 2 to 12 hours. Average cost, for a pig’s head, 4 1/2 d. per lb. Seasonable from September to March.

Note-The liquor in which the head was boiled will make good pea soup, and the fat, if skimmed off and boiled in water, and afterwards poured into cold water, answers the purpose of lard.

From Mrs. Beeton’s Every Day Cookery and Housekeeping Book; 1865

A Modern Interpretation of Brawn

1 Pig’s or Calf’s head
1 Large Onion, Quartered
4 Whole Cloves
6 Celery Tops
4 Sprigs Parsley
1 Carrot
1 Bay Leaf
12 Peppercorns
Cayenne Pepper
Sage
Nutmeg (optional)

  • Clean head, removing snout and reserving tongue and brains. Scrub well and palce in a large kettle. Cover with water; add onion, stuck with cloves, and tongue. Tie celery, parsley, carrot, bay leaf, and peppercorns in cheesecloth and drop in kettle. Add salt.
  • Bring to boil, skim carefully and simmer slowly about 4 hours, or until meat is tender and falls easily from the bones. Remove tongue from water after it has cooked 1 1/2 hours.
  • Lift head onto large platter. Strain and reserve liquid in kettle. Remove all rind from head; cut the meat and the tongue, skin removed and excess tissue from root end, trimmed, into tiny pieces. (Some women like to put the meat through a food chopper.) Place in large bowl.
  • Drop brains into a little of the cookin liquid; simmer, covered, 15 minutes. Remove, drain and add to meat and tongue. Season lightly with cayenne, sage and nutmeg. Toss to mix well.
  • Pack mixture inot 9x5x3″ laof pan or mold, pressing firmly. Pour 1/2 c. cooking liquid, cooled until lukewarm, over mixture. Cover pan or mold and put weight on it. Chill at least 48 hours before using. Slice to serve. Makes 18 1/2″ slices or 8 servings.

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A Ragout of Beef

Miss Bingley was engrossed by Mr Darcy, her sister scarcely less so; and as for Mr Hurst, by whom Elizabeth sat, he was an indolent man, who lived only to eat, drink, and play at cards, who, when he found her prefer a plain dish to a ragout, had nothing to say to her.
Pride and Prejudice

By Georgian times, Roast Beef* had become the staple of the Englishman’s diet. The subject of song and legend, this particular dish was credited with everything from Englishmen’s courage and stout hearts to their victories over France. A traveler of the 1700’s observed:

“Roast meat is the Englishman’s delice and principal dish. The English roasts are particularly remarkable for two things. 1. All English meat, whether it is of ox, calf, sheep, or swine, has a fatness and delicious taste, either because of the excellent pasture…or for some other reason. 2. The English men understand almost better than any other people the art of properly roasting a joint, which also is not to be wondered at; because the art of cooking as practiced by most Englishmen does not extend much beyond roast beef and plum pudding.”

During the Regency, however, British cooking had changed. French recipes became the rage. Indeed, Mrs. Bennet supposed Mr. Darcy to keep “…two or three French cooks at least.” With this change came a desire for more “exotic” dishes. Fricassees and Ragoo (ragout) began to appear on English tables. Though merely stewed meat and vegetables, they were certainly a change from the boiled or roasted beef that had been the meal of choice for over 1,000 years. Still, though it shows a bit of country naivety on her part, who can blame poor Elizabeth Bennet, who, when put on the spot by Mr. Hurst, admits to preferring the food of her youth– a “plain dish”, to all these strange new recipes. She may not be on the the cutting edge of society’s gastronomic delights, but then again, isn’t this same innocent lack of pretension the reason Mr. Darcy– and readers of the last 200 years have fallen in love with her?


Beef and Roasted Vegetable Ragout

    The Vegetables:

  • olive oil
  • 2 to 3 medium red potatoes, peeled if desired, cut in 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 small carrots, quartered lengthwise and cut in 1-inch slices
  • 1 small turnip, cut in 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 red bell pepper or a combination of red, yellow, orange, cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 3 small zucchini and/or yellow summer squash, sliced about 1/4-inch (remove seeds if larger squash are used)
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 fresh pepper, seeded and cut in 1/2-inch pieces (optional)
  • 3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • coarsely ground black pepper and kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • dash of fines herbs (optional)
  • sprig of fresh rosemary (optional)
    The Beef:

  • olive oil
  • 1 1/2 to 2 lbs London Broil steak, cut in thin slices then diced in 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup beef broth (if commercial is used, cut back on salt)
  • coarsely ground pepper and kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 small bay leaf, fresh, or two dry bay leaves

Divide sliced and diced vegetables into 2 plastic bags. In one, the root vegetables: potatoes, turnip, and carrots. Put the remaining vegetables in the other bag. Pour 1 to 2 tablespoons of good olive oil in each bag, then divide seasonings to each bag. Shake them all. Place the root vegetables on a large baking sheet (with sides) or wide baking dish. Bake at 375 ° for about 20 minutes before adding the remaining vegetables. Roast another 20 minutes, or until vegetables are browned and tender. Find the 3 garlic cloves and squeeze the garlic out of the skins; refrigerate the roasted vegetables. This can be done the night before.

In a large skillet, heat about 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Add the diced meat; stir until well browned. Sprinkle with scallions and flour; stir and cook for another minute. Transfer meat mixture to the crockpot; add bay leaf, pepper, and salt. Add beef broth to the pan the meat was cooked in; bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Scrape up browned bits from the bottom of the pan; pour hot broth over meat in the crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Add roasted vegetables; cook an additional hour on high, or until mixture is hot. Serve with hot rolls or biscuits.

*For a full history of Britain’s Beef, visit Jim Comer’s fascinating page.

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Cottage Pie

“Dinner to day, Cottage-Pye and rost Beef.”
Reverend James Woodford, 29 August 1791
Diary of a Country Parson

Cottage pie and shepherd’s pie are traditional methods for using leftover roasted meat, either beef or mutton, with mashed potato as a convenient pie crust. In early recipes, the pie dish was lined with mashed potato as well as having a mashed potato crust on top. The use of previously uncooked meat is a recent adaptation, suited to the techniques of commercial food processing companies.

Early cookery writers did not use the terms “cottage pie” and “shepherd’s pie” and the terms did not appear in recipe books until the late part of the 19th century. From that time, the terms have been used interchangeably, although there is a popular tendency for “shepherd’s pie” to be used when the meat is mutton or lamb. The first mention of Cottage Pie was in 1791, when the Rev. James Woodford mentions eating it with “rost beef” for dinner.

Cottage Pie
Required: a pound and a half of cooked potatoes, half a pound to three-quarters of cold meat, seasoning and gravy as below. Cost, about 9d. The potatoes must be nicely cooked and mashed while hot…The should be seasoned, and beaten until light with a wooden spoon. A pie dish should then be greased, and the potatoes put at the bottom, to form a layer from half to an inch in thickness. The meat should be made into a thick mince of the usual kind with stock or gravy…or it may be mixed with Onion Sauce, or any other which may be sent to table with meat. The nicer the mince, the nice, of course, will be the pie. The meat doest next, and should be put in the centre of the bottom payer, leaving a little space all around. The crop the remainder of the potatoes on the top, beginning at the sides–this prevents the boiling out of the gravy when the meat begins to cook–go on until all the used, making the pie highest in the middle. Take a fork, and rough the surface all over, because it will brown better than if left smooth. For a plain dish, bake it for fifteen to twenty minutes. Or it may be just sprinkled with melted dripping (a brush is used for this), or it may be coated with beaten egg, part of which may then be used in the mashed potatoes. As soon as the pie is hot through and brown, it should be served. There are many recipes for this pie, or variation of it, and in some, directions are given for putting the meat in the dish first, and all the potatoes on the top. The plan above detailed will be found the better, because the meat being enveloped entirely in potatoes runs no risk of becoming hard, as it wold do it exposed to the direct heat of the oven. Any other cooked vegetables may be added to the above, but they should be placed between the meat and potatoes, both top and bottom. If a very savoury pie is desired, make the mince very moist, and allow longer time for baking. The potatoes will absorb some of the gravy, and found tasty. In this case, the heat must not be fierce at starting, only at the end for the pie to brown well. For a richer pie, allow a larger proportion of meat. For a very cheap one, half a pound of meat will do for two pounds of potatoes.
—Cassell’s New Universal Cookery Book
, Lizzie Heritage, 1894


  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 onions finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes chopped or one small can of peeled, diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup beef stock or bouillon
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 5 medium potatoes (boiled and mashed)
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tablespoon butter or bacon fat
  • salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Brown the beef in oil.

Remove from pan and set aside.

Drain most of the accumulated fat from the pan. Sauté onions until tender, and then add chopped tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add broth and stir in herbs and seasonings.

Return brown meat to skillet and continue cooking for 5 minutes.

Transfer all ingredients to an ovenproof casserole.

Top with mashed potatoes (scoring them with a fork.) Dot with butter and bake uncovered in 375-degree oven for 30-40 minutes.

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