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Friday Food: Isabella Beeton’s Recipe for Baked Beef, 1861

beeton1_lgAs the oldest girl in a family of twenty-one children, Isabella Mayson (1836–1865) had ample practice in the domestic arts by the time she married Samuel Beeton at the age of 20.  Samuel was an innovative editor and publisher, and Isabella participated fully in his publishing business, putting her domestic skills to work as editor of the English Woman's Domestic Magazine. The year after her marriage, Isabella also began work on the monumental compendium of domestic science that is The Book of Household Management.  The book was first published it in 1861, when Isabella was only 25, and it was an immediate success due to her attention to accuracy, economy, and taste.

Isabella died of childbed fever only a few years later, at the age of 28.  After her death, Samuel sold the rights to her book to the publisher Ward, Lock, and Tyler, whose intense marketing created the Victorian domestic icon that Mrs. Beeton later became.

Baked Beef (Cold Meat Cookery)beeton2_lg

Ingredients.—About 2 lbs. of cold roast beef, 2 small onions, 1 large carrot or two small ones, 1 turnip, a small bunch of savoury herbs, salt and pepper to taste, 4 tablespoonfuls of gravy, 3 tablespoonfuls of ale, crust or mashed potatoes.
Mode.— Cut the beef in slices, allowing a small amount of fat to each slice; place a layer of this in the bottom of a pie-dish, with a portion of the onions, carrots, and turnips, which must be sliced; mince the herbs, strew them over the meat, and season with pepper and salt. Then put another layer of meat, vegetables, and seasoning; and proceed in this manner until all the ingredients are used. Pour in the gravy and ale (water may be substituted for the former, but it is not so nice), cover with a crust or mashed potatoes, and bake for ½ hour, or rather longer.
Time.—Rather more than ½ hour.
Average cost, exclusive of the meat, 6d.
Sufficient for 5 or 6 persons.
Seasonable at any time.
Note.—It is as well to parboil the carrots and turnips before adding them to the meat, and to use some of the liquor in which they were boiled as a substitute for gravy ; that is to say, when there is no gravy at hand. Be particular to cut the onions in very thin slices.

See the full text at the Hathi Trust or Find the 1899 edition in Special Collections

Don't miss Food Sense, the 2012 Life Sciences and Society Symposium, March 16-18.  SCARaB will be participating with an exhibition of books on science and nutrition.


Kelli Hansen

Kelli Hansen is head of the Special Collections and Rare Books department.

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