Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mess Tin Cooking, British Army, WW I (Part 3)

Mess Tin Cooking with Preserved Beef


     This is my final (well, maybe not, depending on where my research takes me) installment on British Army mess tin cooking of the Great War. Preserved meat was the official designation for what was commonly known to the Tommies in the field as “bully beef”. Bully beef is an Anglicization of the French version of canned corned beef, boeuf bouilli (boiled beef). 
     One can easily see where the convenience of preparation, not to mention the relatively simpler logistics (no refrigeration, no cutting and trimming, compact and durable packaging), contributed to the overuse of bully beef. Numerous accounts suggest that the quality of imported canned beef was often substandard. These factors resulted in bully beef gaining a rather unfavorable reputation.
     Fortunately for we reproducers of historical culinary, today’s “bully beef” is processed to higher standards, and we are not generally restricted to a diet which includes its consumption on a daily basis.  These recipes were modifications of the recipes using fresh or frozen meat, and were also those recipes recommended for cooking in mess tins. Conveniently enough, the British army recipes called for 12 ounces per soldier, the size of a modern tin of canned corned beef. As the preserved meat is already cooked, the cooking time is greatly reduced from the fresh meat versions.

Stew

US                               Metric                          Ingredients                             
12 oz                           340 g                           canned corned beef
1 ½ oz                          40 g                             carrots or other root vegetables
¾ oz                             20 g                             onions
“cover a sixpence”      “cover a sixpence”      salt
to taste                         to taste                         pepper

Procedure
1.      Cut the onions and vegetables into small pieces.
2.      Put the onions into the mess tin with enough water to cover them, and a little jelly (gelatin) from the meat.
3.      Season with salt and pepper.
4.      Cover tightly and simmer until the vegetables are tender.
5.      Break up the meat into coarse pieces and add to the vegetables.
6.    Let simmer for another 10 minutes

  
Curried Stew
The ingredients are the same as for Stew, with the addition of curry powder and flour for thickening.

US                               Metric                          Ingredients                             
12 oz                           340 g                           canned corned beef
1 ½ oz                          40 g                             carrots or other root vegetables
¾ oz                             20 g                             onions
“cover a sixpence”      “cover a sixpence”          salt
to taste                         to taste                         pepper
1/16 oz (½ tsp)            1.5 g                            curry powder
¾ oz (~3 tbsp)             20 g                              flour

Procedure
1.      Cut the onions and vegetables into small pieces.
2.      Put the onions into the mess tin with enough water to cover them, and a little jelly (gelatin) from the meat.
3.      Season with salt and pepper.
4.      Cover tightly and simmer until the vegetables are tender.
5.      Meanwhile, mix together the curry powder and flour.
6.      Make a batter with the flour mixture and a little water.
7.      Break up the meat into coarse pieces and add the meat and flour batter to the vegetables.
8.      Let simmer for another 10 minutes.



Sea Pie
 This recipe requires one portion of paste in addition to the ingredients listed below. Refer to the recipe for paste in a previous post, Mess Tin Cooking, British Army, WW I, Part 2. Otherwise, the recipe is the same as for Stew.

US                               Metric                          Ingredients                             
12 oz                           340 g                           canned corned beef
1 ½ oz                          40 g                             carrots or other root vegetables
¾ oz                             20 g                             onions
“cover a sixpence”      “cover a sixpence”          salt
to taste                         to taste                         pepper

Procedure
1.      Make the paste (refer to Mess Tin Cooking, British Army, WW I, Part 2).
2.      Cut the onions and vegetables into small pieces.
3.      Put the onions into the mess tin with enough water to cover them, and a little jelly (gelatin) from the meat.
4.      Season with salt and pepper.
5.      Cover tightly and simmer until the vegetables are tender.
6.      Break up the meat into coarse pieces and add to the vegetables.
7.      Cover with the paste.
8.      Cover the mess tin and boil or steam for 20 minutes.


Variation
A batter made of ¾ oz (20 g) flour and a little water may be added at the same time as the meat.


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