Throw Together a Tradition

Kristi here.

Ask people to list traditional English meals, and you’re very likely to get Shepherd’s Pie in the list right next to Fish and Chips, Bangers and Mash, and Yorkshire pudding.

Slice of shepherd's pie and a tomato
Slice of Cottage Pie. Note the meat and vegetables on the bottom layer and the potatoes on the top.

Shepherd’s Pie is really a particular version of a Cottage Pie. Technically, a Shepherd’s Pie should contain lamb or mutton while a Cottage Pie can contain the meat from pretty much any animal, though it usually contains beef.

Simply put, Cottage Pies are a mix of meat and vegetables topped with a heap of mashed potatoes and baked. My family has a recipe for one and lots of people make particular plans to have Cottage Pies for dinner and go to the grocery store to buy the ingredients to make it.

What I find interesting about that, is that Cottage Pie was originally a thrown together meal used to eat up the leftovers and scraps.

Picture this: The family sits down to eat and the Mom starts dishing up dinner. She says, “Sorry about dinner tonight. I had to sort of throw together whatever I can find. I’ll plan better for tomorrow. I should be able to get to the market in the morning.”

(Yes, I know that is a very modern conversation, but you get the picture.)

Dad and kids tuck in and discover that this is better than the last three meals Mom made. In fact, it’s one of the best! Suddenly the concoction thrown together just so everyone could eat dinner and not be hungry is a family staple.

This happens in our house constantly.

Frequently dinner is a pantry clean-out. Grab a few cans, haul something out of the freezer, throw it together and you have some nourishment. It might be bizarre, but it’ll get the job done.

The other day I did this and ended up trying to remember what I’d done and what all I’d put in it because everyone in the family loved that meal. It is rare that all three of my kids clean their plate, let alone ask for seconds. We devoured this ultra simple meal.

The bonus was that it ended up tasting very similar to a dish my husband loved growing up as a child. His grandparents grew a very distinct type of bean on their farm and it was always served for the bulk of the Sunday afternoon meal.

Just like Cottage Pie, our thrown together meal is now a menu mainstay. It’s purposefully planned and ingredients are bought instead of it being leftovers and forgotten pantry lingerers.

We call it “That turkey and bean dish” right now. Eventually it will get a better name. Want to try it? I’ve included the recipe below.

Have you ever thrown together something at the last minute only to have it be a roaring success?

That Turkey and Bean Dish

Ingredients:

– 1 pound turkey sausage (the kind in the big links, either the horseshoe shape or the two long links.)
– 1 can french cut green beans
– 1 can whole kernel corn
– 1 can black beans
– Spices: Cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper
– butter or margarine

Directions:

– Slice the turkey sausage into bite size pieces. (For me that means half-circles about a half inch thick)
– Brown them in a frying pan
– Sprinkle them with cumin and onion powder

– Drain the green beans and corn
– Drain and rinse the black beans
– Put them in a pot with some butter
– heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally
– Season with cumin, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder

– Once everything has had a chance to simmer and brown, dump the bean and corn mixture in the frying pan with the sausage.
– Cover and let simmer about 5 – 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
– Serve over garlic bread or mashed potatoes

If you give this a try, let me know how it turns out for you. My family loves it!

All photos from WikiCommons.

Regency Cookery

English Housewifery Exemplified
In above Four Hundred and Fifty Receipts Giving Directions
for most Parts of Cookery

Elizabeth Moxon

published in 1764.

This cookbook precedes the regency by about 50 years,but I imagine many of these recipes (or “receipts” as they were called then) were still in use.

Scrolling through this cookbook on Project Gutenberg’s site, I found some interesting dishes including:

 HOW TO JUGG PIGEONS.

I wasn’t sure what ‘jugging’ meant. The dictionary has the verb, to jug, meaning stewing meat in an earthenware jug.

Take six or eight pigeons and truss them, season them with nutmeg, pepper and salt.
To make the Stuffing. Take the livers and shred them with beef-suet, bread-crumbs, parsley, sweet-marjoram, and two eggs, mix all together, then stuff your pigeons sowing (sic) them up at both ends, and put them into your jugg with the breast downwards, with half a pound of butter; stop up the jugg close with a cloth that no steam can get out, then set them in a pot of water to boil; they will take above two hours stewing; mind you keep your pot full of water, and boiling all the time; when they are enough clear from them the gravy, and take the fat clean off; put to your gravy a spoonful of cream, a little lemon-peel, an anchovy shred, a few mushrooms, and a little white wine, thicken it with a little flour and butter, then dish up your pigeons, and pour over them the sauce. Garnish the dish with mushrooms and slices of lemon.

 

This is proper for a side dish.

 

How’s this for a little deception, making a rabbit look like a partridge? The only thing is, I have no idea what they mean by cutting off a rabbit’s wings (cutting off its floppy ears?):

Kitchen Still Life with Hares, Fowl, etc. by Cornelis Jacobsz Delff
Dead Hare and Partridges c.1690 Jan Weenix

 

TO DRESS RABBETS TO LOOK LIKE MOOR-GAME.

 

Take a young rabbet, when it is cased cut off the wings and the head; leave the neck of your rabbet as long as you can; when you case it you must leave on the feet, pull off the skin, leave on the claws, so double your rabbet and skewer it like a fowl; put a skewer at the bottom through the legs and neck, and tie it with a string, it will prevent its flying open; when you dish it up make the same sauce as you would do for partridges.

Three are enough for one dish.

 

And for a little dessert:

AN APPLE PUDDING

Take half a dozen large codlins, or pippens, roast them and take out the pulp; take eight eggs, (leave out six of the whites) half a pound of fine powder sugar, beat your eggs and sugar well together, and put to them the pulp of your apples, half a pound of clarified butter, a little lemon-peel shred fine, a handful of bread crumbs or bisket (sic), four ounces of candid orange or citron, and bake it with a thin paste under it.

 

 

The recipe ends there. Perhaps a thin paste is a pastry shell?

 It would have been interesting to sample some of this fare.