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Cooks in the 19th century share a common dilemma with modern cooks… what to do with the leftovers! This recipe was likely intended as a way to serve leftover beef as a second meal, in a new form.

Curried Beef appears in “Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management”, published in 1861. Isabella Mayson Beeton spent several years writing the book, giving advice on all manner of subjects related to running a Victorian English Household, from tipping the servants to the proper way to bake bread.

It’s no surprise that Mrs. Beeton uses curry to liven up her leftovers-the spice was an integral part of much of British cuisine in the 1800’s. Here is Miss Beeton’s Recipe for Curried Beef:

Ingredients
• a few slices of tolerably lean cold roast or boiled beef
• 3 ounces of butter
• 2 onions
• 1 wineglassful of beer
• 1 dessertspoonful of curry powder

Instructions
Cut up the beef into pieces about 1 inch square, put the butter into a stewpan with the onions sliced, and fry them of a lightly-brown colour. Add all the other ingredients, and stir gently over a brisk fire for about 10 minutes. Should this be thought too dry, more beer, or a spoonful or two of gravy or water, may be added; but a good curry should not be very thin. Place it in a deep dish, with an edging of dry boiled rice, in the same manner as for other curries.
Time: 10 minutes.
Seasonable in winter.

If you don’t have leftover pot roast lying around, you can use fresh hamburger, as I did in my version:

Ingredients
• 1.5 pounds of ground chuck
• 4 tablespoons of butter
• ½ sweet yellow onion, cut into slices
• 1 wine glassful of beer
• 2 teaspoons of curry powder

Instructions
In a stew pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Form the ground chuck into small balls, no bigger than an inch in diameter, and fry them in the butter, placing a cover over the pot, for about 7-10 minutes. Take care when you turn the meatballs that you not to allow them to break apart (a spoon works best). They should not be fully cooked! Drain meatballs on paper towel and set aside. Fry onions in remaining butter and beef drippings for about 10 minutes.

Add one wine glass of beer (I used Michelob Ultra because it’s what I had in the frig! Bonus: you get to drink the rest of the beer while cooking.)

Also add in the curry and stir until mixed thoroughly. Carefully put meatballs back in pot, simmer about 10 minutes.

That’s it! I served it with white rice. My daughters and I love curry but if you’re wary of the spice, you can reduce the amount to one teaspoonful. For me, that wasn’t spicy enough.

This is an easy dish for weeknights-and yet slightly exotic… so you won’t feel like you’re serving the same old stuff. Enjoy!

Next blog post: Easy, beautiful tea cakes

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