Thanksgiving: A Week with Martha Bradley, The British Housewife, Day 2


November 26, 2019
by Don N. Hagist Also by this Author


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Yesterday, Martha Bradley, in her 1756 publication The British Housewife: or, the Cook, Housekeeper’s, and Gardiner’s Companion, explained to us the various poultry available in the month of November. Rather than presenting separate recipes for each bird, her November section on “Cookery” offered this one:

To roast Fowls in the Italian Way.
Chuse for this Dish a Couple of very handsome well-grown Fowls, let them be picked, drawn, and trussed, singe them, spit them, and cover them with slices of Bacon cut moderately thick, and then lay them down at a good distance from the Fire.

Mince a Dozen Truffles, chop three Spoonfuls of Parsley, shred an Onion very fine, and shred the Livers of the two Fowls and a Couple more; mix all these together, then add two Ounces of rasped Bacon, some Mace shred very small, a few Leaves of sweet Herbs, and three or four fresh Mushrooms; put all these into a Marble Mortar, beat them up a little, melt Half a Quarter of a Pound of Butter and pour in; beat all well up again, and then take it out, throw it into a Saucepan, and let it do a little.

The Chickens being half done by this Time take them off the Spit, and divide the Stuffing into two Parts, put Half into each of them.

Spit them again, cut a few Gashes in the Bacon, and lay them down nearer the Fire.

They will thus do very well, and the Stuffing will just be enough in them.

Secure the two Ends when they are spitted this second Time, and let them take their Time to do.

While the Chickens are doing set on a Stewpan with some Water, and a Blade of Mace while, throw in a Handful of Garden Cress Leaves just when they are grown beyond the Bigness of young Salleting, throw in also Half a Handful of Parsley, two or three Sprigs of Mint, and a Dozen young Onions; let them once boil up, then pour away the Water, drain the Herbs, and chop them small.

Put into a Stewpan four Yolks of Eggs beat up with Half a Gill of strong white Wine, add the same Quantity of Oil that there was of Wine, and stir all together; then put in the chopped Herbs, let these do a little over  Stove, then put in a small Lemon cut into Dice, a Couple of Anchovies boned and chopped, a Couple of Rocamboles, and some Pepper and Salt; let the whole do till it is enough, taste it that it be well relished, and if not thick enough put in some Cullis if there be any in the House, and if not some Butter rolled in Flour.

When the Sauce is ready take up the Fowls, take off the Bacon, lay them handsomely in a Dish, and pour the Sauce over them. Garnish the Dish with Pieces of Seville Orange.

Bradley’s work contains other recipes for roasting, broiling, boiling, and frying various meats and fowls. And in case you’re wondering what to do with the larks that she suggested are in season in November, she offered this tempting preparation:

To bake Larks stuffed.
Chuse about eight fine Larks, pick them and draw them, then prepare the following Stuffing: Shred very fine the White of a Chicken, shred also very fine a small Slice of boiled Ham, and as much raw Bacon, shred some fresh Sage Leaves also, and mix all together; put in a little Pepper and a very little Salt, and add a Blade of Mace shred; when this is all mixed divide it into two Parts, and stuff the Bodies of the Larks with one Half of it, saving the other to lay under them.

Cut eight Slices of fine Bacon big enough to wrap up the Larks, spread over each Slice of bacon some of the Stuffing, and then lay on the Larks, one upon each Slice, wrap them up in the Bacon, and place them Side by Side in a Baking-pan, put on the Cover of the Pan, and send it to the Oven; when it comes home pour in some rich Veal Gravy, squeeze in a little lemon, and send it up.


Tomorrow: Some side dishes.

[Extracts are from Martha Bradley, The British Housewife: or, the Cook, Housekeeper’s, and Gardiner’s Companion(London: undated, 1756 or 1757 2-volume edition originally published as a series of pamphlets); original spellings are preserved.]

One thought on “Thanksgiving: A Week with Martha Bradley, The British Housewife, Day 2

  • Grateful for the historical insight regarding RevWar-period food: what was available, and the cooking methods of the day. I help cook items for our Militia Reenactor’s when they attend various events. I try to keep both the content and end-product authentic (as much as possible). Most are enjoyed, some not-so-much (we’re used to such non-rustic foods & flavourings today). A Fund-raising Dinner is being planned for Dec. (Thanksgiving-style) by our group; it helps to have your site as a quick reference to plan menu items to donate to them for everyone’s enjoyment, and to encourage “new enlistees.”

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