Thursday, January 14, 2016

Historical Food Fortnightly: Meat & Potatoes


A series of factors led me to chose this recipe from The Cook's Oracle. I'd been called on at the last minute to cook for the Battle of New Orleans reenactment and realized I needed to scroll back the dates of recipes I'd been using. In the bit of last year's challenge I completed, I tended to focus on the Civil War. Finally, I was looking for a recipe that was extremely budget conscious. Extremely.

I was thrilled to find this one. Once I began it, I realized how similar it was to one of my most favorite breakfast recipes, Potato Bacon Scones. Seriously, it's nearly identical. 
 Year/Region: 1817/London

How Did You Make It: I mashed the potatoes with some butter and milk, diced the ham, and added the egg yolks. The resulting mixture was much too soft to form into balls, so I did mix in a bit of flour to stiffen it up a bit before rolling about 2 Tablespoon's worth in flour as called for "in the last receipt."

 I never did make successful balls, as the potato mixture flattened as soon as it hit the hot grease. I fried them until well browned. I was a bit confused by the recipe's call to "brown them in a dutch oven" as the frying process browned them so much. I skipped that step unless the recipe actually meant to do the frying in a dutch oven. 

Time to Complete: I boiled the potatoes for 20 minutes, mashed them and let them cool another 20 minutes. The fry time took maybe a total of 20 minute as I worked in batches. Total time: 1 hour.

Total Cost: I spent $1.38 on two potatoes. The ham had been a great deal before Xmas at 89 cents a lb. and the recipe used 1/4 lb. I used 2 T of butter and splash of milk, so probably another 30 cents. I can't really calculate the cost of a bit of flour. The bacon grease was free. Total: $1.91. 

How Successful Was It?: Moderately successful.  Because I was rushing, I didn't scroll back in the book to see the instructions for how to mash potatoes. 

 Their mashed potatoes use far less butter and milk than we do today, so their mixture would have been firmer. I was unable to shape the mixture into balls. There was no seasoning in the mixture either, so they were a bit bland for the modern palate. I sprinkled them with kosher salt after frying. Those are really picky critiques though; these were delicious. I ate three and LB immediately ate six and later went back for more.

How Accurate Is It?: Very. I used all of the recipe's ingredients as described, all the way down to the "clean drippings."  This is some gorgeous grease:


Isabella said...

Potato cakes! Love it!

Tegan said...

That looks absolutely delicious! I think I love every version of "mashed potatoes with tasty things mixed in" recipe. Colcannon and variants thereof are standard rotation at my house. I think this might get added too :-P