Tasty Tuesday: Making Brown Gravy & Force-meat Balls #colonial #recipe #howtomake #gravy #meatballs

I’ve starting to really get into some interesting historical “receipts” to convert for Tasty Tuesday! Today we’ll look at how we can use the broth I shared here to make brown gravy and force-meat balls to use in other “made dishes” I’ll talk about in upcoming weeks. Ready?

The next step is to make the brown gravy. First, you need to realize that in my house my hubby has always made the gravy. So that’s my first challenge with this recipe. Second, I needed to translate the original recipe into something not only understandable but also to a manageable quantity. Let’s look at Mrs. Hannah Glasse’s 1802 recipe:

Art of CookeryWhen you want very strong gravy, take a slice of bacon, lay it in a stew-pan; take a pound of beef, cut it thin, lay it on the bacon, slice a good peace of carrot in, an onion sliced, a good crust of bread, a few sweet herbs, a little mace, cloves, nutmeg, and whole pepper, an anchovy; cover it, and set it on a slow fire five or six minutes, and pour in a quart of the above gravy; cover it close and let it boil softly till half is wasted. This will be a rich, high brown sauce for fish, fowl, or ragoo.

Her instructions are actually the second half of the broth recipe. Since I reduced the quantity of broth, I also reduced the quantity of gravy by using smaller quantities of meat. Instead of a pound of beef, I used several pieces of stew beef that I sliced thinner. I used four baby carrots whole, and added basil and thyme as my sweet herbs. I did not use any anchovy, and used 2 cups of broth (“above gravy”) instead of one quart. For some reason, I forgot to take pictures but it was a simple simmering of ingredients and then removing the bits and pieces. My pups were happy with their treat, too!

Betty’s Brown Gravy


1 slice bacon

¼ lb. stew beef, cut thin

4 baby carrots

1 small onion, sliced

1 bread crust (end slice)

Basil, to taste

Thyme, to taste

Mace, to taste

Nutmeg, to taste

Cloves, to taste

2 cups soup broth


In a large saucepan, lay the bacon on the bottom. Layer the beef, carrots, onion, bread, and herbs and spices.

Cook on medium heat until the bacon sizzles and the beef begins to brown.

Add broth. Cover and simmer until cooked down by half.

Remove the meat, bread, and vegetables.

Store gravy tightly covered in the refrigerator or divide into containers to freeze.

Now I have brown gravy to use to make the other dishes I’ll be adapting. See, there is an order to the progression of the recipes I’ve chosen!

Another ingredient I needed to make to have on hand for the made dishes is force-meat balls. Essentially, these are small meatballs used as filler and seasoning in dishes that are similar to what we call casseroles and pot pies.

Here’s what Mrs. Glasse would have me do:

To make Force-meat Balls.

Now you are to observe, that force-meat balls are a great addition to all made dishes; made thus: take half a pound of veal, and half a pound of suet, cut fine, and beat in a marble mortar or wooden bowl; have a few sweet herbs shred fine, a little mace dried and beat fine, a small nutmeg grated, or half a large one, a little lemon-peel cut very fine, a little pepper and salt, and the yolks of two eggs; mix all these well together, then roll them in little round balls, and some in little long balls; roll them in flour, and fry them brown. If they are for any thing of white sauce, put a little water in a sauce-pan, and when the water boils put them in, and let them boil for a few minutes, but never fry them for white sauce.

Ground TurkeySo the first thing I’ll say is that I didn’t want to use veal due to the expense. Instead, I chose another lean meat, ground turkey. I think it most likely has a similar consistency as ground veal. Note that when she says “cut fine” that would end up being very similar I would think to ground meats today. At least, I think it’s close enough.

Shaved butterLast year I made Martha Washington’s sausage and in doing so had done research as to a proper substitute for suet, which is difficult to find in my area. The result proved interesting. Frozen stick butter that you grate/shred and blend in. So that’s what I used in this recipe as well. However, there are other substitutes you may prefer to use.

All IngredientsMy intent with these adaptations is to make new doable recipes from the historic ones. Therefore, when she calls for sweet herbs I’m choosing from what I have in my spices and seasonings collection. So this time I thought Italian seasoning would taste good with the turkey and other ingredients. Other possibilities that come to mind are thyme, basil, dill weed, and rosemary.

Mace, cloves, and nutmeg are strong spices, so I used only a sprinkle of each. (We’ve determined that mace is a bit overpowering for us, so less is definitely more.) For lemon peel, I used lemon zest (grated lemon rind). I omitted the pepper and salt, but feel free to use them if you’d like.

For egg yolks, I put one in and then decided to use two to have the proper consistency. If you make these, then you can decide whether you want to use both or just one, depending on the quantity you’re making.

Betty’s Force-meat Balls


1 lb. ground turkey

1 stick unsalted butter, frozen then shredded

½ T Italian seasoning

Sprinkle of mace and nutmeg

½ tsp lemon zest

2 egg yolks

Rolled into BallsInstructions

Mix all the ingredients thoroughly, breaking up any lumps of butter to evenly spread it in the mixture.

Roll the meat mixture into balls. I placed them on waxed paper for easy handling. (See note below)

Note: Uncooked balls can be divided into containers (I used quart-sized freezer bags) and frozen until needed.

I’ll talk about how I cooked these for use when I share the recipes I used them in. I kept out 17 to use in the Scotch Collops recipe for next week’s post but froze the rest in 3 batches of 12.

Take a moment to consider the large amount of food the 18th-century cook must have been making. Then think about how long it would take to fix just one meal. I imagine she was pretty relieved that the evening meal was usually cold meats and lighter fare. Keep in mind the cook would not have ready-made seasoning to sprinkle on like I did, nor already ground meat to use. I know how long it took me to figure out the recipe, let alone prepare it for use. Of course, she might have some things ready to use from making different foods, but still, I think it was quite a feat to send dinner to the table.

Next week I’ll share how to put together a made dish using these ingredients and many others! Until next time!


P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

I thought I’d share a little about Elizabeth’s Hope, so you know what the serialized novella is all about. And remember, it’s not on sale yet, only available for my newsletter subscribers. In each newsletter, I also include a link to the novella as released up until that point, so you won’t miss out on any of the previous chapters. Enjoy!


Joining the revolutionary army was the honorable thing to do—but Jedediah Thomson hadn’t realized how long he’d be away from the lovely, spirited Miss Elizabeth Sullivan. They’d only begun their courtship when the occupation of Charles Town, South Carolina, trapped her in the city, making it dangerous to get to her.

Elizabeth Sullivan feared for her brothers, fighting for American freedom; for her father, pretending to be a loyalist; for family and friends, caught between beliefs; and most of all for Jedediah, the man she loves, who was doing his duty. She cherished every moment they had together, knowing how swiftly it could be taken away.

And that made her willing to risk everything to claim a piece of him forever….

One thought on “Tasty Tuesday: Making Brown Gravy & Force-meat Balls #colonial #recipe #howtomake #gravy #meatballs

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.