Roll over the diagram to see dinner recipes from 1773
Dinner recipes from 1773
First published in 1727, Eliza Smith's cookbook Complete Housewife, or, Accomplished Gentlewoman's Companion was popular in England and America throughout the 18th century. This diagram from the 1773 edition shows a two-course winter dinner of ten dishes. Preparing and serving such a meal-presented midday-would have required extensive effort and carefully coordinated timing. View content as list
To make a gravy soup such as the one described here, cooks needed to have many different food supplies on hand, each of which required intensive labor to produce beforehand of veal, as much grated bread, half a pound of suet cut.
To make soup
Take twelve pounds of beef, a scrag of mutton, and knuckle of veal; it must be neck-beef, and the sticking-piece, put your beef in a saucepan, and half fry it with a bit of butter; then put all in a pot, with nine quarts of water, a good handful of salt, a piece of bacon, boil and skim it, then season it with three onions stuck with cloves, whole pepper, Jamaica pepper, and a bunch of sweet-herbs; let it boil five or six hours close covered; then strain it out, and put it in your dish, with stewed herbs and toasted bread.
Chicken and BaconEnlarge
In this recipe four cucumbers, sliced in two, were stuffed and then fried to accompany two roasted chickens. The cucumbers had to be soaked in salted water for two or three hours ahead of time.
To make chickens roasted with forcemeat and cucumbers
Take two chickens, dress them very neatly, break the breast-bone and make the forcemeat thus: take the flesh of a fowl and of two pigeons, with some slices of ham or bacon, chop them all well together, take the crumb of a penny loaf soaked in milk and bread, then set it to cool; when it is cool mix it all together, season it with beaten mace, nutmeg, pepper, and a little salt, a very little thyme, some parsley, and a little lemon peel, with the yolks of two eggs; then fill your fowls, spit them and tie them at both ends, after you have papered the breast, take four cucumbers, cut them in two, and lay them in salt water two or three hours before, then dry them and fill them with some of the forcemeat (which you must take care to save) and tie them with a packthread, flour them and fry them a little brown; when your chickens are enough, lay them in the dish and untie your cucumbers, but take care the meat does not come out; then lay them round the chickens with the fat side downwards, and the narrow end upwards; you must have some rich fried gravy, and pour into the dish; then garnish with lemon. Note: one large fowl done this way, with the cucumbers laid round it, looks very pretty, and is a very good dish.
Collops were slices of meat, which in this recipe were hacked (cut) with shallow incisions before cooking–a method known as scotching. "Stones" were testicles, and "sweetbreads" were the thymus or pancreas of a calf or lamb.
Cut your collops off a fillet of veal; cut them thin, hack them and fry them in fresh butter; then take them out and brown your pan with butter and flour, as you do for soup. Do not make it too thick; put in your collops and some bacon cut thin and fried, some mushrooms, oysters, artichoke-bottoms diced, lemon and sweet-breads, or lamb-stones'; some strong broth, gravy, and thick butter; toss up all together. Garnish the dish with sliced lemon.
A Giblet PieEnlarge
Savory pies could be fashioned from meat, fish, fowl, or vegetables, and were served as both a first-course and second-course dish. This pie called for a rump steak at the bottom along with livers and seasonings.
To make a giblet pie
Take two pair of giblets nicely cleaned, put all but the livers into a sauce-pan, with two quarts of water, twenty corns of whole pepper, three blades of mace, a bundle of suet-herbs, and a large onion; cover the close, and let them stew very softly till they are quite tender; then have a good cruft ready, cover your dish, lay a fine rump steak atthe bottom, seasoned with pepper and salt; then lay in your giblets with the livers, and strain the liquor they were stewed in. Season it all with salt, and pour it into your pie; put on the lid, and bake it an hour and a half.
Puddings are characteristic of English cuisine. In the 18th century puddings were either savory (meat-based) or sweet (flour, nuts, and sugar), and were boiled in pudding bags for three to four hours on open kitchen fires.
A good boiled pudding
Take a pound and a quarter of beef-suet, after it is skinned and shred it very fine; then stone three quarters of a pound of raisins, and mix with it, and a grated nutmeg, a quarter of a pound of sugar, a little salt, a little sack, four eggs, four spoonful's of cream, and about half pound of fine flour; mix these well together, stiff: tie it with a cloth, and let it boil four hours. Melt butter for sauce.
Large joints of meat roasted over an open fire were a mainstay of meals in 18th-century England and America. Cleaning the spit, preparing the meat for roasting, and judging when the meat was done required hard work and skill.
To roast beef
If the rib, sprinkle it with salt for half an hour, dry and flour it; then butter a piece of paper very thick, fasten it on the beef, with the buttered side next it. If a rump or a sirloin, do not salt it, but lay it a good distance from the fire; baste it once or twice with salt and water, then with butter, flour it, and keep it basting with salt and water, then with butter, flour it, and keep it basting with what drops from it. Take three spoonfuls of sugar, a pint of water, an eschalot, a small piece of horse-radish, two spoonfuls of catchup, and one glass of claret; baste it with this once or twice, then strain it and put it under your beef; garnish it with horse-radish and red cabbage.
A Turkey RoastedEnlarge
In this recipe for roast turkey the cook deboned the bird and then filled it with forcemeat stuffing. Forcemeat was a mixture of finely chopped and seasoned foods, usually containing egg white, meat or fish, and fat.
To roast a turkey the genteel way
First cut it down the back, and with a sharp penknife bone it, then make your force-meat thus: Take a large fowl, or a pound of veal, as much grated bread, half a pound of suet cut and beat very fine, a little beaten mace, two cloves, half a nutmeg grated, about a large tea-spoonful of lemon peel, and the yolks of two eggs; mix it all together, with a little pepper and salt, fill up the places where the bones came out, and fill the body, that it may look just as it did before, few up the back, and roast it. You may haveoyster-sauce, celery sauce, or just as you please; but good gravy in the dish, and garnish it with lemon, is as good as any thing. Be sure to leave the pinions on.
Woodcocks with ToastsEnlarge
Wild game and fowl provided variety and subsistence for 18th-century diners in England and America. Knowing how to catch and prepare such foods was an important part of kitchen skills.
To roast woodcocks and snipes
Put them on the spit without taking anything out of them; bathe them with butter, and when the tail begins to drop, put into the dish to receive it a round of a three penny loaf toasted brown. When they are done put the toast into the dish with about a quarter of a pint of good gravy; put the woodcocks on it, and Set it over a lamp or chasing-dish of coals for about three minutes, and send them to table.
A Tansy Garnished with OrangeEnlarge
A tansey was an omelet-like pudding flavored with tansey, a bitter aromatic herb (Tanacetum vulgare). The dish used, among other ingredients, Naples biscuits flavored with rose water.
To make a tansy to bake
Take twenty eggs, but eight whites, beat the eggs very well, and strain them into a quart of thick cream, one nutmeg, and three Naples-biscuits grate, as much juice of spinach, with a sprig or two of tansy, as will make it green as grass; sweeten it to your taste; then butter your dish very well, and set it into an oven, no hotter than for custards; watch it, and soon as it's done, take it out of the oven, and turn it on a pie-plate; scrape sugar, and squeeze orange upon it. Garnish the dish with orange and lemon, and serve it up.
A Roasted HareEnlarge
Knowing how to choose, butcher, and prepare a variety of meats, fowl, and wild game was essential to cooking a meal in the 18th century.
To roast a hare
Take crumbs of bread, and suet cut small, of each half a pound; some parsley and thyme shred small; some salt, pepper, cloves, mace, and nutmeg pounded; three dried mushrooms cuts small; two eggs, a glass of claret, two spoonfuls of catchup; mix all these together, and sew it up in the belly of the hare; lay it down to a very slow fire, baste it with milk till it becomes very thick; then make a brisk fire, roast if for half an hour, baste it with butter, and dredge it with a little flour.
An Apple PieEnlarge
In colonial America the wealthy established orchards for a variety of fruits, while the poorer classes made do with less variety, smaller plantings, and the gathering of wild fruits.
To make an apple and a pear Pie
Make a good puff paste crust, lay some round the sides of the dish, pare and quarter your apples, take out the cores, lay a row of apples thick, throw in half the sugar you design for your pie, mince a little lemon-peel fine, throw over and squeeze a little lemon over them, then a few cloves, here and there one, then the rest of your apples and the rest of your sugar. You must sweeten to your palate, and squeeze a little more lemon. Boil the peelings of the apples and the cores in some fair water, with a blade of mace, till it is very good; strain it and boil the syrup with a little sugar, till there is but very little and good, pour it into your pie, put on your upper cruft and bake it. You may put in a little quince or marmalade if you please.
Thus make a pear pie, but don't put in any quince. You may butter them when they come out of the oven; or beat up the yolks of two eggs and half a pint of cream, with a little nutmeg, sweetened with sugar, take off the lid and pour in the cream. Cut the crust in little three corner pieces, stick about the pie and send it to table.