08 February 2009

Essential Beeton

Isabella Beeton is arguably the first in a long line of domestic superstars. Between 1859 and 1861, Mrs. Beeton published 24 issues of the English Woman’s Domestic Magazine. In 1861 those magazines were compiled into her opus, Beeton’s Household Management. Before the decade ended, 2 million copies of the book had been sold. Her book has been printed and reprinted in dozens of forms. A recent “best of” edition, Essential Beeton was published in 2004

Among her “Golden Rules” for the kitchen:

Leave nothing dirty, clean and clear as you go.

A good cook wastes nothing

Stew boiled is stew spoiled

Boil fish quickly, meat slowly

This winter, my friends and I lamented the fact that we cannot find decent suet for mincemeat or for a lovely suet crust. Suet is the hard fat around the kidneys. I’m sure if you live in New York City or in a small town with a proper butcher you may be able to find just the suet you need. If not, you can only imagine how fine this crust can be.

Suet Crust, for pie or pudding

Ingredients.--To every lb. of flour allow 5 to 6 oz. of beef suet, 1/2 pint of water.

MODE.—Free the suet from the skin and shreds; chop it extremely fine and rub it well into the flour; work the whole to a smooth paste with the above proportion of water; roll it out, and it is ready for use. This crust is quite rich enough for ordinary purposes but when a better one is desired use from 1/2 to 3/4 lbs. of suet to every pound of flour. Some cooks for rich crusts, pound the suet in a mortar, with a small quantity of butter. It should then be laid on the paste in small pieces, the same as for puff-crust and will be exceeding nice for hit tarts. 5oz. of suet to every lb. of flour will make a good crust; and even 1/4 lb. will answer very well for children, or where a crust is wanted very plain.

Isabella Beeton and the "invention" of her book is a wonderful story. There are several biographies of Beeton but this is the best: The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs. Beeton: The First Domestic Goddess by Kathryn Hughes.

If you are thinking of making this crust without the suet --Don't. Lard or any other type of fat is not a acceptable. Alas, there is simply no substitute for suet, so befriend a butcher or no steak and kidney pie for you.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Widget by LinkWithin