Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mess Tin Cooking, British Army, WW I (Part 2)

     In Part 2 of British Army Mess Tin Cookery of the Great War , we will look at recipes that are a little bit more involved. The recipes for Sea Pie and Meat Pudding require the making of a "paste". The paste for these recipes is an unleavened flour dough, quite similar in composition to  an American pie dough. The Sea Pie and Meat Pudding are steamed or boiled, not baked.
     Not possessing a reproduction British Army WW I mess tin, I opted for the next best thing, a British mess tin of the type used in WWII and afterwards. I substituted aluminum foil for the lid.
     The procedure for making the paste, covering the ingredients, and cooking is the same for both recipes.

In the next installment of British Army mess tin cookery I will  discuss mess tin recipes using "preserved meat" (the infamous "bully beef").

Paste for Meat Puddings and Sea Pie.
The following are ingredients for a single recipe. I doubled the paste recipe for the photos below. 

US                                 Metric                         Ingredients
3.2 oz (~½ cup+3 tbsp)  90 g                              flour
“cover a sixpence”          “cover a sixpence”        salt
0.8 oz (~3 tbsp)              23 g                             dripping or suet
3 fl oz                              90 g                             water, cold

Double recipe for paste. I used beef suet for the fat.
Note the “cover a sixpence” measurement for the salt.
1.      If the dripping is hard, shred it finely
2.      If soft, break into small pieces
3.      Mix the flour and salt together
4.      Add the dripping or suet. Do not rub it into the flour, but mix well.

Mixing the fat into the flour mixture.

5.      Add water and make a smooth paste; do not over-mix (over-mixing results in a tough paste).
6.      Turn out onto a floured surface.

(Paste divided in two, one portion for each recipe.)

7.      Roll out or press flat to about ½” (1.5 cm) thick. Fold the paste in half.

The mixed paste, flattened out.

8.      Repeat the fold and roll about 4 times.

Fold in half.

Roll out and repeat three more times. 

9.      Roll or press a final time to a size sufficient to cover the contents of the mess tin.

Sea Pie

This recipe is heavy on the potatoes and is quite filling. A post-World War I manual cautioned that it was:
“A very satisfactory meal and suitable for men engaged in heavy work in the open. It is not usually attractive to men following sedentary occupations.”
This recipe requires one portion of paste in addition to the ingredients below.

US                                 Metric                         Ingredients
8-12 oz                        225-340 g                    beef or mutton
19 oz                            530 g                            potatoes
0.5 oz                           15 g                              mixed vegetables
0.5 oz                           15 g                              onions
to taste                         to taste                         pepper
“cover a sixpence”       “cover a sixpence”         salt
8-12 fl oz                     240-360 ml                   meat stock

1.      Peel and cut the vegetables and onions into ½” (1.5 cm) pieces.
2.      Peel the potatoes and cut into fourths.
3.      Cut the meat into ½” (1.5 cm) pieces.
4.      Place half the stock into the cooking vessel.
5.      Add the meat, potatoes, vegetables, onions, salt and pepper.
6.      Add enough stock to barely cover the ingredients.
7.      Cover with the paste, making a hole in the center.
8.      Cover the cooking vessel tightly and steam for 1 to 1½ hours, or until the meat is tender. Check the water level periodically, and add additional water if needed.

Adding stock to cover the ingredients.
Note the paste rolled out to the
approximate size of the mess tin.

The paste has been placed over the meat,
vegetables, and stock, and a hole cut in top.
   The mess tin has been covered in aluminum foil, and placed 
on a trivet in a pot filled halfway with water. The pot is then 
covered, and heated to a simmer for approx. 1½ hours.

The completed sea pie. 

Meat Pudding
This recipe requires one portion of paste in addition to the ingredients below.

US                               Metric                          Ingredients
3.2 oz                          90 g                             flour
0.8 oz                           23 g                             dripping or suet
0.5 oz                           15 g                             onions
to taste                        to taste                         pepper
“cover a sixpence”      “cover a sixpence”         salt
4-6 fl oz                       240-360 ml                  meat stock

1.      Cut the meat into thin slices and place in the mess tin.
2.      Peel the onions and slice thinly and add to the meat.
3.      Add the salt and pepper and mix together.
4.      Add enough stock to barely cover the ingredients.
5.      Roll out the paste to the size of the mess tin.
6.      Cover the ingredients with the paste.
7.      Cover the mess tin tightly and steam for 1 to 1½ hours, or until the meat is tender.

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