I just can’t help myself. I want a meat and potato kind of meal, and I start thinking, “Well, they probably ate a lot of meat and potatoes back in the day.” So my eyes come to rest upon Three Meals a Day: The Great 20th Century Cook Book by Maud C. Cooke, published in 1902.
There are three things that I love about cooking out of this book:
- Due to its age, I write out the entire recipe on a scrap piece of paper first so that cooking splatter doesn’t occur anywhere near the actual book. Since I actually rewrite everything, I tend not to forget items.
- There were no standards of measurement back in the day, so I get to guess what “butter the size of an egg” means. I mean, how big was that hen? Did you mean chicken or duck? So, globs and globs of butter ensue.
- The author assumes you know how to cook. She doesn’t tell you to cook the beans on high heat first and then simmer. She just says, “Allow eight hours for tenderness.” It’s up to you to decide how to get there.
Anyway, I found a pretty basic roast chicken recipe and a milk potato side dish. (Yeah, it’s going to be as gloppy as you think.)
Prepare and stuff the same as for roast turkey.
See? I told you it was easy. OK, here’s the recipe for roast turkey:
Pick, singe to free from pin feathers, draw, wash and dry. (My chicken came from the store… so, already feather-free. Just a reminder that our processed chickens might laden with salmonella, but at least we no longer have to singe them to remove feathers.) After this dip the turkey 2 seconds into boiling water, and then 2 seconds into ice water; this makes it very plump in appearance. (Again, I think mine was injected with something deadly at the processing facility. So, we’re good on the plumpness.)
Cut the neck off close to the body, leave the skin longer, draw over and tie, skewer the legs close to the sides after removing the first joint. Fasten the wings to the sides in the same manner, first cutting away the pinions (first joints). (Whew, I am sooo glad I live when I do.)
Put the giblets to boil in a quart of water. Allow 1¼ hours to roast a turkey weighing 10 pounds. If at all tough boil an hour or more before roasting. Some cooks parboil even a young turkey before baking. (What? Boil first then roast? Good gravy. Did these women ever leave the kitchen?) A little water will be needed in the pan. Baste with salt and water once, then cover with lumps of butter, and afterward baste with the drippings. Some cooks prefer to lay slices of bacon or fat pork over the fowl, fastening them down with small skewers. When nearly done, dredge with flour and baste with melted butter. Stuff with the following forcemeat:
- 3 pints breadcrumbs
- ¼ lb salt pork, chopped
- Butter size of egg
- Salt, pepper, sweet marjoram, savory, or sage
- 2 eggs, well beaten
A little chopped celery is an improvement; the eggs may be omitted and melted butter used to moisture the dressing (Maud’s use of moisture rather than moisten). Mix thoroughly before using. Sew up.
And that’s it. Oh, wait. What temp are we using in the oven? I don’t know; just put some coals or wood in the stove and start roasting. But for the modern world, you’ll want to preheat the oven to 450°. When you put the chicken in the oven (on a rack in a roasting pan), lower the heat to 350° and roast for20 minutes per pound. Let the chicken rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.
Well, of course, I used the bacon on top. I do live with my husband. Remarkably moist on the inside. Go forcemeat! (It also might be because I might have thought ostrich when I imagined my egg-sized butter.)
Potatoes Baked in Milk—Dutch Style
First, my apologies to the Dutch. I’m not really sure if this is their style at all.
Cut enough potatoes in thick slices to half fill a deep dish or 2 qt pan. Drop in butter the size of an egg cut into bits, a teaspoonful of salt and a tablespoonful of parsley. Fill the pan up with milk and bake 2 hours. The milk remaining in the pan should be thick as cream and the potato a light brown on top.
I’ll admit that I was scared of a two hour bake time and then I realized that my chicken was going to have to cook for an hour and 40 minutes… so, I threw in the potatoes first at the 450° temperature, turned down the heat when I put the chicken in, and finished up the cooking. Everything worked out pretty well and it looked like this… which, interestingly enough is exactly how I expected it would look.
Did it taste like scalloped potatoes? Not really. I thought it should have, but alas… perhaps next time I will use whole milk or half and half to compensate for not having milk fresh out of the cow. Also, please note the huge mess that was made from boiling milk spilling over onto that cookie sheet. Definitely bake this one on a sheet pan or your oven will be a disaster.