Author Archive for kerewin

Poulet a la Marengo

Poulet a la Marengo

Ever since my stock escapades I looked for a recipe that could utilize the delicious stock yet fit my wheat-free, dairy-free issues. Not so easy with Beeton. Poulet a la Marengo doesn’t quite fit that bill but I decided to take a page from SJ’s arrowroot bechamel and substitute that for flour in this recipe. Since I just got home from work and still had to go to the store and get the ingredients and cook, the easiness of this recipe was very reassuring.

949. Ingredients – 1 large fowl, 4 tablespoons of salad oil, tablespoon of flour, 1 pint of stock No. 105, or water, about 20 mushrooms – buttons, salt and pepper to taste, 1 teaspoonful of powdered sugar, a very small piece of garlic.

I was determined to follow the recipe as close as possible this time out and ran into a snag pretty much, well, right off the bat.

Mode – cut the fowl into 8 or 10 pieces; put them with the oil into the stewpan, and brown them over a moderate fire; dredge in the above proportion of flour; when that is browned, pour in the stock or water; let it simmer very slowly for rather more than 1/2 hour, and skim off the fat as it rises to the top; add the mushrooms; season with salt, pepper, garlic, and sugar; take out the fowl, which arrange pyramidically on the dish, with the inferior joints at the bottom. Reduce the sauce by boiling it quickly over the fire, keeping it stirred until sufficiently thick to adhere to the back of the spoon; pour over the fowl, and serve.

Clearly, I can cut a chicken in pieces. Not pretty ones, mind you. Brown the meat, easy peasy. Now, dredge. Um, dredge the browned meat? Why not dredge it ahead of time? But, ok.

I love the way the arrowroot powder puffed everywhere. It was a pain to clean up later but the picture is cool.

After dredging about half the pieces it finally occurred to me that perhaps you were supposed to put the flour in the pan and let the fat and flour make a roux. Then the next thing – add mushrooms, sugar, salt and pepper. Raw mushrooms, uncut, straight into a dish with the stock? I feel like this was just a lack of proper directions. So, I had the browned chicken sitting to the side and I put the (sliced) mushrooms in the pan and dumped in whatever arrowroot powder was left into the stock pot and allowed the mushrooms and the “flour” to catch all the yummy browned bits on the bottom. THEN I added the stock.

After that is was easy to add the seasonings and the chicken and put a lid on it and let it simmer on low for 30 minutes. After that was done I arranged the chicken and reduced the sauce, and served it over the chicken.

The sauce was amazing, from already silky stock the arrowroot powder added another luxurious mouth feel and the mushrooms added so much in terms of flavor. It was like the fancy version of my whitetrash family’s recipe of chicken with cream of mushroom soup over rice-a-roni. I wanted to spoon that liquid up and eat it right in the kitchen.

However, the dredged flour on the skin that was then boiled made for a gelatinous covering. Not very nice. Who needs skin on a simmered piece of meat, anyway?

Here’s what I am doing the next time I make this, and boy howdy, am I making it soon. I would take off the skin and use it to render some fat for use in browning the chicken. (Yum! Cracklins for an appetizer!) Then skip the whole dredging idea, put the browned chicken to the side, and put the flour in the bottom of the pan, then add the mushrooms. When they have given off some nice moisture add a little bit of white wine to the pan and scrape up all the brown bits then add the stock, chicken and spices. Last, I am definitely going to add some green herb to the sauce when it is reducing, probably tarragon because it is my favorite and a squeeze of lemon to make it a little zippier.

All in all, I feel like this is my first pure success and it yielded a luscious meal. Since my husband is out of town for work this week I have plenty of leftovers.

Making Stock The Beeton Way

Making Stock The Beeton Way

Good stock is the basis for great meals, or so I have heard. I think I make pretty good chicken stock (thank you Zuni Café). Usually I make a double batch and make a demi out of half of it, which I freeze into ice cubes.

My original intention was to make the Beeton Strong Rich Stock and Zuni’s Beef Stock as a comparison. The downside to that is that in order to make the Zuni beef stock you first have to make chicken stock and I just couldn’t see making three stocks on a Saturday. So I stuck to just Beeton.

Now, interestingly, Beeton only has different kinds of meat stock – no chicken, veg or fish stock: Rich Strong Stock, Medium Stock, and Economical Stock. Economical comes closest to chicken stock in that she doesn’t specify a beef joint (although, I would say it is implied). Otherwise the other stocks definitely call for beef. In fact, the Rich Stock calls for beef, veal, ham, and poultry trimmings. A multi-animal broth, if you will.

Ingredients–4 lbs of shin of beef (every butcher I talked to said this was likely beef shank, which looks remarkably like lamb shank but smaller), 4 lbs of knuckle of veal (question by butcher, “Which knuckle? We just have veal bones, will that do?”), 3/4 lb of good lean ham; any poultry trimmings (the Zuni chicken stock uses extra wings for their glycerin content, therefore I looked for wings. My local store was out of chicken wings but had a honkin’ turkey wing, so I used that.); 3 small onions, 3 small carrots, 3 turnips, 1 head of celery (I just realized at this moment that I completely forgot this item – oops), a few chopped mushrooms, 1 tomato (during the winter I chose to use a tomato from some home canned tomatoes), a bunch of savoury herbs, not forgetting parsley; 1 1/2 oz of salt, 12 white peppercorns (I hate white peppercorns and used black), 6 cloves, 3 small blades of mace (everything I could find was ground and so I omitted this item), 4 quarts of water.

Mode–Line a delicately clean stewpan with the ham cut in thin, broad slices, carefully trimming off all its rusty fat; cut up the beef and veal in pieces about 3 inches square (my veal bones had no meat, so I only cut up the beef shank meat), and lay them on the ham, set it on the stove, and draw it down and stir frequently. When the meat is equally browned, put in the beef and veal bones, the poultry trimmings, and pour in the cold water. Skim well, and occasionally add a little cold water, to stop its boiling, until it becomes quite clear.

I am not a good skimmer. I hate it, which is why I tend to like the Zuni stocks because they are anti-skim. So, skimming until the broth is clear pretty much means skimming off the cooked blood until the liquid is golden and not red. A good tip, while the bones and such cook, right before skimming give a good hearty stir to the bones to get any impurities up to the top of the water. Skimming adds an extra 20 or 30 minutes to the recipe but perhaps I am just a crappy skimmer.

Then put in all the other ingredients and simmer very slowly for 5 hours. Do not let it come to a brisk boil, that the stock be not wasted, and that its colour may be preserved.

Strain through a very fine sieve, or tammy (or a regular strainer and cheesecloth), and it will be fit to use.

This is the first beef stock and one of few stocks of any variety that doesn’t call for the browning of the bones before the cooking. That was the hardest thing to resist changing. I had to buck up and really follow the recipe and have faith that all would come out fine. Then the addition of cloves (and mace – next time I will wait to get the un-ground article, it was very clear that it was blades and the ground stuff seemed like it would make too much of a profile so I avoided it) that gave me real room for pause, especially as it was cooking and I could smell the cloves. Plus, turnips? Weird. Now I wish I had double checked on the cabbage. Oh well, still not a perfect Victorian recipe.

Wings of any variety add so much glycerin I was very happy to add turkey wing to the recipe. The more glycerin, the more weight and silk your stock has, therefore the better it is.

As I first cooked it, the stock smelled so strongly of ham, I kept thinking what a mistake it was to have it. As the hours went by the more it smelled of pure beef. I wonder if the ham served as the replacement for vegetable oil, as I used none. Also, that whole non-browning of the bones! Another thing to resist, we are told over and over to brown our bones before making stock. I tasted the stock every hour, or so and at first it was so pale and weak. I was sure I messed it up by not adding that important caramelization (is that a word?). By the end it had that nice black tea color.

After straining, I split it evenly into containers for the fridge. It still came out to 4 quarts – so the 5 hours of slow simmer paid off, all I boiled out was the liquid from the meat, herbs, and veg. One trick I stole from Zuni Café was to swirl a little cold water in the empty pot at the end and then pour over the strained bones to get any last glycerin or good stock.

At the end of the evening, I tasted the stock. It left my mouth feeling coated with silk and there was a definite beefiness to it. In fact, the clove added a subtle, elegant EXTRA to it. I know that I have to add clove to my stock from now on. It doesn’t take over, it adds that undefinable quality. The best thing? The next morning in the fridge, the stock when jiggled acted like jello. A very firm set. I am super excited about what to make with this luxury item. Any ideas?

Braised Leg of Mutton (ie lamb since it is difficult to source Mutton)

Braised Leg of Mutton (ie lamb since it is difficult to source Mutton)

Instructions for Braised Leg of Mut..err…Lamb, are very easy. One of the reasons I chose this lovely recipe, the other is my deep fondness for lamb. Of all varieties.

Mrs. Beeton says:

Ingredients.–1 small leg of mutton, 4 carrots, 3 onions, 1 faggot of savoury herbs, a bunch of parsley, seasonings to taste of pepper and salt, a few slices of bacon, a few veal trimmings, 1/2 pint of gravy or water.
Mode.–Line the bottom of the braising pan with a few slices of bacon, put in the carrots, onions, herbs, parsley, and seasoning, and over these place the mutton. Cover the whole with a few more slices of bacon and veal trimmings, pour in the gravy or water, and stew gently for 4 hours. Strain the gravy, reduce it to a glaze over a sharp fire, glaze the mutton with it, and send it to the table, places on a dish of white haricort beans boiled tender, or garnished with glazed onions.

I did this in my usual unplanned way and ran into a a couple small roadblocks. I decided on Sunday morning to make this dish for Sunday dinner and then went out in search of the appropriate ingredients. So that left real mutton a non-choice. According to the internets, you can special order real mutton from some farm in Ellensburg. I made my trek to A&J Meats on Queen Anne and let them help me. Veal trimmings? Nope, but they had a pound of frozen, ground veal that they thought would add good flavor to the broth and was supposed to melt right into the liquid. Leg of lamb? Sure! Which side did I want, shank or leg? Looking at the whole leg (which I really wanted) I chose the shank side. I still regret not getting the whole leg, but it wouldn’t have fit into any pot I own.

I admit now to being at a real disadvantage to not reading more of BOHM before starting this recipe. Gravy in a braised dish? Faggot of herb? Only 1/2 cup of liquid for 4 pounds of meat? Huh?

So I kinda punted a little on this dish. Faggot of herb I assumed was some sort of bouquet garni so I went with my standard empty tea bag and herbs that go with red meat (thyme, rosemary, marjoram). I get those empty tea bags from Uwajimaya and they are great for loose leaf teas AND stocks and soups – amazing for infusing flavor with no flecks of herbs in soup.

As for the gravy, I used a reduced, un-thickened stock from a different beef braise. Still 1/2 a pint is only 1 cup, or if you use the British pint it is still only 10 ounces. Most braises have the meat immersed in liquid. So, I also added a cup of red wine and a cup of beef stock (still not very much liquid for that much food).

Another thing I have never done, line the pan with bacon. Crazy! So I did all that, covered the lamb with bacon and ground veal (which did NOT melt into the sauce as the man at A&J Meats said it would) and added vegetables, liquids, herbs, parsley and covered.

That is one seriously ugly dish

Alright, cook gently for 4 hours? I don’t cook next to a fire, so I used my usual braising temperature of 325 degrees. (Perfect temperature)

Still not very pretty.

After cooking, I took the lamb out, strained the sauce, de-greased, and reduced by more than half. Meanwhile I did a quick roast of the meat to get a nice carmelization and served with broccoli tossed in butter and leeks (not white haricot unfortunately, but butter and leeks cover a lot of mistakes).

Much prettier.

The meat was very tender, close to fork tender and the sauce was divine. It was a perfect Sunday evening meal. We both had seconds. I used the sauce and leftover meat the next day to make a quick soup (hi, lamb soup is so much more flavorful than beef soup). The fat didn’t render on either the lamb or the bacon so the sauce didn’t have that much grease to skim off. I think that kept the meat nice and tender throughout the cooking process. Although, I like when all the fat renders, biting into soft, fatty pieces isn’t that much fun. Perhaps a nice browning of the meat beforehand?

Covering the meat with bacon kept everything moist so perhaps I didn’t need to add the extra broth – I didn’t have the courage to follow the recipe to the letter in case it turned into dust. We really enjoyed it and it was a good early foray. I am considering making stock this next weekend but it depends on my ability to source beef shin and veal knuckle.


I have a penchant for starting tasks at the last minute. I also made this cake on Sunday, with just about as much forethought.

A Very Good Place To Start

A Very Good Place To Start

Where to start? I suppose the English would start with a good cup of tea. Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management is very clear.

There is very little art in making good tea; if the water is boiling, and there is no sparing of the fragrant leaf, the beverage will almost invariably be good. The old-fashioned plan of allowing a teaspoonful to each person and one over, is still practised. Warm the teapot with boiling water; let it remain for two or three minutes for the vessel to become thoroughly hot, then pour it away. Put in the tea, pour in from 1/2 to 3/4 pint of boiling water, close the lid, and let it stand for the tea to draw from 5 to 10 minutes; then fill up the pot with water.

My favorite part of this “recipe” is the next line:

The tea will be quite spoiled unless made with water that is actually boiling, as the leaves will not open, and the flavour not be extracted from them; the beverage will consequently be colourless and tasteless, –in fact, nothing but tepid water.

I just started reading The English American by Alison Larkin in which the protagonist is an English girl who discovers her birth parents are from America. There is a part where she explains how to make proper tea.

First, you warm a teapot. Then you put in tea leaves – Earl Grey, Lapsang, or Darjeeling, ideally. One teaspoon for each person, and one for the pot. Then you pour in water that has been boiled.

The same directions from a book that was published in parts between 1859 and 1861 and a book published in 2008. I guess when you find perfection, you don’t mess with it.

So, I made my tea with a British brand of breakfast tea, warmed my pot, used one teaspoon per person plus one for the pot, used boiling water, and let it steep for 5 minutes. I was also very careful to add the milk and sugar to the (pre-heated) tea cups before pouring in the tea.

One for me with coconut milk and one for my husband with the real stuff. It was dark and delicious. Had a slight bitter edge that the sugar evened out. I could drink this everyday. Note: I don’t usually use china for sipping on tea, this just seemed to be a very auspicious occasion, plus I figured the Victorian era didn’t use cups the size of giant fists like we do now.

While making the tea, I chanced to look at the side of the Fortnum & Mason tea box. Directions: Warm the teapot before adding one teaspoonful for each person and “one for the pot”. Bring fresh water to the boil and pour in immediately. Allow the tea to brew for 5 minutes, then stir and serve.

My god, those Brits have repetition DOWN.