My first foray into Regency cookery was a simple dinner using things left over from my holiday meals. I had a few pieces of beef tri-tip and a few mini potatoes so I chose to make Jugged Steaks with Potatoes (page 54). Martha’s recipe was
Jugged Steaks with Potatoes
Take rump steakes, beat them well, pepper and salt them, then take a soup-pot, put at the bottom a little fresh butter, a row of stakes, a row of potatoes and so on till tis full, then fill some gravy or broth just enough to cover it, let it stew for three hours, then strain it all off and skim all the fat from it, thicken it up with butter and flour, then put it over the steakes again, give it one boil up, and taste if salt is enough.
The modern version with my own flourishes is
Take several pieces of uncooked beef, rump steaks, chuck steaks – I used tri-tip. I cut them about 3/4 of an inch thick and pounded them. I believe this recipe came about to use the lesser and tougher parts of the beef. Neither Martha’s or Maggie’s recipe suggests browning the meat, but I did simply because I prefer the flavor of browned meat even if I’m going to stew it. I opted not to put the butter in the bottom of the casserole dish but rather a bit of olive oil. Obviously not as flavorful but I just don’t need the extra fat. Something that was not much of a consideration in Regency England. I then layered the meat with the sliced potatoes. The second time I made this dish I added a sliced shallot and a few sprigs of thyme from my garden. Martha’s recipe calls for gravy or broth which would no doubt have been homemade but I was lazy and used canned beef stock to cover the meat and potatoes. I then baked it in a 275º oven for a couple of hours; just until the meat was tender.
I removed the meat, potatoes and shallots and left them on a plate to cool a bit before wrapping and refrigerating them. I tossed the thyme out. I strained the stock and put it in the refrigerator to chill. I left it in all night and was able to remove virtually all the excess fat from the surface. I then measured three cups of the stock and heated it to boiling. I creamed together 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter and 4 tablespoons of flour and added the mixture to the stock. I turned the heat down and allowed it to thicken, stirring with some frequency (I used a whisk), salt and pepper to taste. I have a toaster oven and used it to reheat the meat and potatoes but I’m pretty sure a microwave would work as well.
I poured the gravy over the meat and lightly buttered the potatoes but ultimately put gravy on them as well. I served it with steamed broccoli (which as you can see, I cooked too long). It was, all in all, a tasty meal which I served with homemade bread. I used my easy pull-apart dinner rolls recipe and created a loaf. It worked fine but I think next time I’ll use a loaf pan. The bread makes very nice toast for breakfast, and while I haven’t tried it, I suspect it would make great french toast.