Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Stewed Beef: A Hint of Cloves Gives This Dish an Historic Taste

Stewed Beef

The following recipe comes from a collection of recipes found in a manuscript journal located in the H. Furlong Baldwin Library at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. The manuscript is attributed to Ann Maria Morris and the date of 1824 is written on the inside cover. The recipe below is one of many from the manuscript that will be included in a book I am writing. The book will contain biographical information about Mrs. Morris, an annotated transcript of the entire manuscript as it was written, and a section of modern recipe adaptations (including this one!).

This recipe is notable for its simplicity, frugality, and great taste. 

  • This a simple dish  because of the relatively meagre ingredients list and the ease at which the stew comes together with minimal effort.  However, it does take a relatively long time to complete (about 3 hours); this might seem anything but simple, particularly in a 21st century society where speed and convenience tend to dominate the culinary scene, but it is worth the wait. So, have a glass of your favorite drink, sit back, and relax while the stew is cooking. You won't be disappointed.
  • This is a frugal dish because the stewing beef required is one of the less expensive cuts of beef available. 
  • Great taste is revealed after the beef has slow-cooked for hours in the aromatic onions, carrots, and tomatoes.  The cloves add that extra flavor so reminiscent of historic British and American cooking.
The cloves make this dish!

Stewed Beef (Mrs. Hollingsworth)
Put your beef in a Dutch oven, and when it is about half done, add Tomatoes carrots, sliced, one onion, 6 cloves & salt stew them together, dust a little flour over, and mix a little water with it to make the gravy – it will require about 3 hours to be in the oven ---

Stewed Beef: Modern Recipe Adaptation
Serves 2-4

  • 3 Teaspoons Salt, Separated
  • 1.5 Teaspoons Ground Black Pepper, Separated
  • 1.5 Pound Stewing Beef (such as a chuck or brisket cut)
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil, Bacon Grease or Lard
  • 1 Large Onion
  • 1 Cup Chopped Carrots
  • 1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 Cups Chopped Tomatoes
  • 6 Whole Cloves
  • 2 Cups Water

1.  Heat the oven to 325ยบ F.
2.  Mix together 1 teaspoon of the salt with 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Rub this mixture on both sides of the beef. Set aside.
3.  In a large Dutch oven, heat the fat (oil, bacon dripping or lard).  Add the beef and brown for about 2-3 minutes per side, until a crust appears. 
4.  Cover the Dutch oven and place in the oven for 90 minutes.
5.  About 60 minutes into the cooking, prepare all of the vegetables and make sure to measure out the flour, cloves, and water. 
6.  After the beef has cooked for 90 minutes, remove it from the oven. Take the beef out and place it on a plate and set aside.
7.  Place the Dutch oven on a burner set to medium high heat. Add the onions and remaining salt and pepper. Stir with a flat-edged spatula to scrape off bits of meat and juices from the bottom of the Dutch oven.  Do this for 2-3 minutes and then add the carrots. Stirring frequently, cook for five more minutes. Then sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir until all the flour is evenly distributed. Cook 2-3 minutes to cook out the flour taste.
8.  Stir in the tomatoes, cloves, and water and stir once again. Then add the beef and any juices that may have leaked onto the plate back into the Dutch oven. Cover and return to the oven. Cook for an additional 90 minutes but check periodically to make sure the gravy is not drying out--add more water, if necessary.
9.  Serve as it with no adornment, or you can serve this over rice, egg noodles, or roasted potatoes. 

Note: You can easily double or triple this recipe!

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