It’s Tasty Tuesday time again! One of the basic ingredients for many of the meat and made-dish receipts, or recipes, Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy is a broth to use as a base for soup or gravy. This proved to be one of my first real challenges to adapt because the ingredients needed to be interpreted and then located. Or at least find something that was a close approximation so I could make something with a similar taste and consistency.
Here’s what Mrs. Glasse tells the 18th-century cooks to do:
To make strong Broth for Soup and Gravy
Take a shin of beef, a knuckle of veal, and a scrag of mutton, put them in five gallons of water; then let it boil up, skim it clean, and season it with six large onions, four good leaks, four heads of celery, two carrots, two turnips, a bundle of sweet herbs, six cloves, a dozen corns of all-spice, and some salt; skim it very clean, and let it stew gently for six hours; then strain it off, and put it by for use.
So the first thing I had to do was understand what a “shin,” a “knuckle” and a “scrag” meant. Also what constitutes a “head” of celery. Thank goodness for the internet! A shin is the same thing as a shank today. A knuckle refers to the lower inside back leg (who knew?). The scrag is the lean end of the neck. A head of celery is the entire thing with all its stalks.
Last week I talked here about the assumed knowledge Mrs. Glasse expected of her cooks. This recipe is a good example of that belief in her reader. The specific terms for these cuts of meat have changed since the 1800s. Or at least, I had never heard of them. She also gives little direction as to what to do with the vegetables before adding them to the pot. Leave them whole or cut them up? I suppose that since she was making 5 gallons of broth, she likely was using one of the big kettles so you wouldn’t need to cut up the vegetables to add them. But of course, I was not going to make 5 gallons of broth. First, I don’t have a pot that big. Second, what would I do with so much broth? Especially in the spring when we don’t consume as much soup.
It became quite apparent that I’d need to reduce the quantities and adjust the amount of each ingredient. So let’s take a look at what I ended up with.
A shank of beef at my local grocery store weighed probably 8 pounds or more. I asked the butcher to give me about one pound. I figured I’d never find a neck of a sheep, lean or not, so I bought one shank of lamb to serve the purpose of flavoring the broth. They did not sell veal, so I had to go to a Whole Foods store to pick up organic, pasture-raised veal slices that weighed less than half a pound and cost ten dollars. I decided I needed to find some way to use the meats after they flavored my broth; I wasn’t going to waste them. More on what I did later.
For the quantity of water, I added enough to the pot to about an inch below the top, which ended up being 12 cups total.
I roughly reduced the quantity of vegetables to about one-third to one-fourth. Note that I didn’t use nearly as much onion because my hubby isn’t a huge fan of it, and I want to add onion and garlic to the recipes I make with the broth. You can adjust to suit your taste when you try this adaptation.
I forgot to add in any carrots or the herbs! Something I realized as I’m writing this post. I should have put in half a whole carrot, or four baby carrots. I’ll be sure to add them and other herbs when I make soup or stews with the broth. I’ll include it in the ingredients here so you don’t forget to put them in yours…
The 6 cloves became 2; the 12 corns of allspice was a little trickier to figure out. 5 whole corns equals 1 tsp ground allspice. So 12 corns would be about 2½ tsp, so I used ½ tsp.
See what you think…
Betty’s Strong Broth for Soup and Gravy
~1 pound beef shank
~½ pound (I used .4) veal slices
1 lamb shank
12 cups water
1 large yellow onion, cut into large pieces
1 leek, cut into pieces, green leaves discarded
1 head of celery, cut into large pieces
½ whole carrot, or 4 baby carrots
2 whole cloves
Herbs to taste
½ tsp ground allspice (or 3 whole corns)
Place the meats in a large pot. Add water and bring to a boil.
When the meat is cooked through, remove it from the pot and skim the water. I used a handheld tea strainer to swish gently through the water and remove the bits and pieces that came off the meats.
Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2½ hours.
Remove the vegetables and skim the broth again to remove any stray bits and pieces.
Pour broth into a container and refrigerate until needed.
Note: If you’re not going to use the broth for a while, you can do like I did. I divided it into 1-quart Ziploc bags, 2 cups per bag, and stood them up in the freezer to keep until needed. Once frozen, then you can lay them flat for more compact storage.
The resulting broth really smelled yummy! I couldn’t wait to use it to make something like soup or gravy for one of the upcoming recipes I’ll share with you. What I ended up doing is taking four cups of the broth, adding in some garlic and carrots (right?!) and some of the stewed savory veggies. I let that simmer while I diced the lamb, beef, and veal and set it aside. Then I peeled and diced two baking potatoes and added them to the stew. Tossed in a bay leaf or two, some Italian herb seasoning and let it all simmer for about 45 minutes. So very good! Hubby and I both enjoyed dinner that night. And I had enough to spoon into two quart-sized Ziploc bags to freeze for later.
Now that I have the basic broth to use, next week’s recipe is something I’m curious to try: oyster sauce. I may even have it with grilled steak. Sound good to you?
I think if I make the broth again, I will leave out the veal because it is very expensive. What do you think might be a good substitute for the sweet flavor of the veal? A bit of pork chop perhaps? Or increase the amount of beef shank to keep the flavor in the same family of meats?
Thanks for swinging in and helping me figure out these new ways of cooking. I’m having a blast and I hope you’re enjoying the results as well.
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!
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The third story in the A More Perfect Union historical romance series reveals what Samantha has been keeping from her friends and the world at large.
Midwife and healer, Samantha McAlester returns from the front lines to find Charles Town under British siege and the town’s new doctor at war with its citizens.
Dr. Trent Cunningham intends to build a hospital staffed solely with educated doctors. What he doesn’t need is a raven-haired charlatan spooning out herbs and false promises to his patients, while tempting him at every turn.
Then a mutual friend develops a mysterious infection. Trenton is stumped. Samantha suspects the cure but knows treatment will expose her long-guarded secret, risking all she holds dear… including Trenton.