Recreated Captain Sanderson’s Comissary Beef Stew

Anna Elizabeth Henry

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#1
While doing some research regarding types of rations soldiers carried I found this neat sub-website from PBS called 'The History Kitchen' there's some interesting tidbits about soldier diets and some passages from soldiers about the quality of their food - or lack there of. Below is a recipe that was included that looked tasty and quite hardy for the upcoming colder weather. Tori Avery who wrote the article adapted Captain Sanderson's original recipe for modern use.

Ingredients
  • 2 lbs. beef stew meat, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 tbsp pork fat or lard (vegetable oil can be subbed)
  • 3 quarts + 1/2 cup water
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 2 onions, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and sliced
  • 1 leek, trimmed, sliced, and rinsed clean
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional ingredients – chopped turnips or salsify
Directions
  1. Sprinkle the stew meat with salt and pepper. Heat the fat in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the meat and sauté for a few minutes, stirring frequently, till well browned, but not fully cooked.
  2. Transfer the browned meat to a large pot and cover with 3 quarts (12 cups) of water. Bring to a boil. Skim the fat that rises to the surface. Add the potatoes, carrots, onions, parsnips and sliced leek to the pot.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour with 1/2 cup cold water till a thick, smooth liquid forms. Slowly stir the flour water into the stew pot. Season the pot with salt and pepper (I used 1 1/4 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper; use more or less to taste if you prefer). Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce the heat a low simmer. Let the stew simmer for 3 1/2 hours, stirring periodically and skimming any fat that rises to the top. If the stew becomes too thick over time, you can add additional liquid to thin it out as needed.
  5. At the end of cooking, the meat should be very tender and the sauce rich and thick. Remove from heat and stir in the vinegar. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Serve hot.
Yield: 8 Servings

http://www.pbs.org/food/the-history-kitchen/civil-war-cooking-what-the-union-soldiers-ate/
 

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ole

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#10
Eight servings! Oy veh! A bit much for the two of us. But it sounds like what I would make. Just bung in what sounds good. Thin sliced celery, lightly browned beef, beef stock, chopped onions and carrots, and at least one large potato. And garlic.

Cut up my beef considerably smaller, but that's a personal choice.

Has anyone noticed that the available red potatoes are not as large as they were a few years ago? And harder to peel? We used to feed the peels to the chickens -- waste not, want not.
 

Anna Elizabeth Henry

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#12
The photos on the website of the recreated beef stew are interesting considering how light the broth is in color. I don't believe I've ever seen beef stew stock that pale, like chicken stock. I almost expected to see chicken stock in the ingredient list. I'm curious to to give this a try to see if comes out looking that way! :O o:

Thanks for sharing this, I love her site! So informative.
 

diane

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#13
Eight servings! Oy veh! A bit much for the two of us. But it sounds like what I would make. Just bung in what sounds good. Thin sliced celery, lightly browned beef, beef stock, chopped onions and carrots, and at least one large potato. And garlic.

Cut up my beef considerably smaller, but that's a personal choice.

Has anyone noticed that the available red potatoes are not as large as they were a few years ago? And harder to peel? We used to feed the peels to the chickens -- waste not, want not.
Yes! I like them for mashed potatoes because the texture is a little more fluffy...but they seem to not want you to peel them! If I wanted fingerlings I would buy them... :laugh:

That stew is good. Made it up, I did! :smug: The parsnips can make a bitter aftertaste, but the vinegar stops 'em doing that. Very nice recipe, I must say.
 

Anna Elizabeth Henry

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#16
Turned out very well!! Tasted wonderful, the only problem was I cut the potatoes into slices that were too small and most of the potatoes dissolved...lol. But it helped thicken the stew, so all ended well...:smile:
I'm glad it turned out so well for you and that you enjoyed it! I don't do big chunks of potatoes either like the recipe recommends, I do cubes. I find when the pieces are too big its tough to stir.
 

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