20 January 2009

Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery

Since we are inaugurating a new president, I thought I would give you a recipe from our “first” First Lady, Martha Washington. Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery is actually a collection of recipes from two older cookbooks, A Booke of Cookery and A Booke of Sweetmeats. This exhaustive study of the recipes used by Washington was researched by historian Karen Hess.

This year, I butchered my first deer, so I have been looking at venison recipes throughout history.
In the 16th century, venison was reserved for nobility and thought to be the most prized of meats. Beef was often sliced and seasoned to resemble deer. Deer was a “nose to tail” eating endeavor. The innards were known as the unbles and were chopped and baked into a crust. The expression "Humble pie" is believed to have come from this reference.

The earliest cookery books rarely bothered with such modern necessities as measurements or cooking times. For Martha Washington, there were some things one just knew and therefore didn’t need to be mentioned in a recipe. A meat that is boiled, then baked is “baked” in a crust.

Here then is Martha Washington’s recipe:

Bake Venison Red Deere or any Great Meat

You must first perboyle yR meat or however; press it all night in a press very dry, & season it according to yE meate baked, & you must clarify yE butter you put into it.

I am not sure that taking my “great meat” and boiling it, pressing it and the baking it will make a tasty meal.

I took my venison tenderloin, sliced it into medallions and wrapped it in bacon. A quick sauté in a touch of olive oil was really all it needed.

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