A Plain Family Dinner for February (from the first edition of Beeton's Book of Household Management):
- Roast leg of pork, sage and onions and apple sauce; greens and potatoes.
- Spinach and Poached Eggs instead of pudding. Cheese and water-cresses.
Since Paul and I have to do our own housework (boo), I only made the first course, which ended up being quite enough food. The pork was pretty amazing, if I do say so myself, the apple sauce was yummy (we ate it warm) and the kale was actually pretty good.
P.S. The potatoes are just baked in the oven and served with lots of butter and sour cream and salt and pepper.
Sage and Onion Roast Pork
1/4 cup unhydrogenated lard
1 3-lb boneless pork loin roast
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
a couple sprigs of parsley
a few sprigs of thyme
several sprigs of sage
1/2 cup dry white wine
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Melt the lard over medium-high heat in a large dutch oven. When the fat is nice and hot, sear the roast on all sides then remove to a platter. Turn the heat down to medium and add the onion, parsley, thyme and bay. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Season the pork roast with salt and pepper and return it to the dutch oven (push the onion and herbs to the outer edges of the pan). Cover the top of the roast with sage leaves. Cover the dutch oven and place it in the bottom third of the oven. Roast until a meat thermometer reads 180 degrees, basting two or three times during the cooking process. The roast will need 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Check it early, because there are few things worse than a dried-out pork roast.
When the pork is cooked, remove and cover it to rest for twenty minutes before carving.
To make the gravy, heat the contents of the dutch oven over high heat until boiling. Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan. Reduce, stirring occasionally. Because it doesn't have any added thickeners, the gravy will be more like a thick jus. Strain into a gray boat and serve alongside the pork.
Adapted from "Rôti de porc poêlé" in Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
4 Granny Smith apples (approximately 5 oz. each)
2 teaspoons butter
pinch of salt (if using unsalted butter)
1 1/2 tablespoons turbinado sugar, or to taste
Peel and core the apples then chop them into 1/2" to 3/4" cubes. As you chop, place the apple cubes in a saucepan half-full of cold water. When all the cubes are in the water, place the saucepan on high heat and bring to a boil. Boil 10 minutes, or until apples start falling apart.
Strain out water using a fine-mesh sieve and return the apples to the saucepan and beat with a wooden spoon. Stir in the butter, salt if using and sugar. This can be made several days in advance and reheated, or not.
Makes about 1 pint
Adapted from "Apple Sauce" in Beeton's Book of Household Management.
1 bunch Lacinato kale (also called cavalo negro) or curly kale, cut into strips and washed
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 onion finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Blanch the kale for 5 minutes in boiling, salted water. Drain.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat and sauté the onion until softened and translucent. Add the minced garlic and give the onion and garlic a stir, then stir in the blanched kale. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Adapted from "Spring and Winter Greens" in Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book (New York: Atheneum, 1979), 480-481.
This Victorian feasting was all to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of writer Charles Dickens. I thought it only appropriate to celebrate since Dickens is one of my absolute-favorite writers. I've still got four of his novels to read (Barnaby Rudge, Martin Chuzzlewit, Dombey and Son and Our Mutual Friend), but so far my favorites are David Copperfield and Bleak House.
Illustrations from WikipediaDoesn't Agnes (top left) look just like Bette Davis? Anyway, either David Copperfield or Bleak House would make a great introduction (or reintroduction) to the work of Charles Dickens. Both are typical of his style (long, frequently humorous and filled with numerous seemingly-unrelated characters) and both are set in Victorian London and the English countryside. They go so well with Mrs. Beeton's menus!
Illustrations from Wikipedia
In other Dickens news, I'll be participating in an A Tale of Two Cities read-along sponsored by the Victorian Literature department at the University of Leicester. It starts in April and I'll let you know more as I find out about it.