The genisis for digging up this old cookbook and preparing a dish came from Meg at I Heart Bacon. She’s hosting a Virtual 40′s-70′s Party, neat huh? In true Biggles tradition, I found a cookbook I liked from 1909, not anywhere close to the 1940s or the 1970s. This is how I follow directions, only to a point. I opened it up right to the meat section and found something that interested me, Steak à la Bordelaise. I read through the ingredients and in typical boy fashion, figured I knew how it all went together. The way I figured, the steak was to simmer in the sauce, nope. I had it wrong, a good wrong though.
A little backtracking if I may? After deciding on the recipe, I leafed through the book just to see what the scoop was. I inherited the book from my grandmother a million years ago. Sure I’ve glanced at it, but never sat down for an hour or more and poured through it. Turns out it’s two books, Household Discoveries & Mrs. Curtis’s Cook Book. It was published by Success Company and not available in stores, only through salespeople & directly from the publisher. In one of the opening pages they even offer to pay the general public One Cent a Word for anything submitted and used. I thought that was pretty nice of them, eh? As near as I can tell, this book would have been given to a woman who was young enough to not have the skill set to manage a home, yet. The chapters are quite complete, it starts out with House Furnishing and Decorating, goes through Heating, Lighting and Refrigeration. There’s a chapter that describes what you should be doing throughout the day and exactly when to do it. There are chapters that spell out what each day should be about, Soap Making Day, Wash Day (blech), Ironing Day (a whole day?), Sewing and Mending Day, oh and my favorite Sweeping Day !!! The chapters go on for 744 pages, that’s a fair amount just so you know. There are a few really gorgeous color prints, but mostly funky black type.
The second book is the cookbook, Mrs. Curtis’s Cookbook. I wonder what her first name is? The more I read, the more in love with this book I become. The detail these people went in to, the time it took to make sure EVERYTHING was done perfectly is amazing. I like the part where instead of tsp or TBLS, they use teaspoonful and tablespoonful. I’m going to do that on Meathenge from now on, I call it first!
The Steak à la Bordelaise looked simple with just a few ingredients. In fact, most of the recipes are like that. Remember, in 1909 you were had to buy local and really driven by the seasons. Most people used ice for refrigeration or bought fresh each day. What a concept, doesn’t sound too bad to me. Unless you run out of ice, then it would really suck. The recipe right above was something called Hamburg Steak. Hey, that sounds familiar. Check this out:
Hamburg Steak (yes, I’ll get to the recipe I cooked soon enough, shaddup)
Two pounds round beef chopped fine; press it into a flat steak, sprinkle with salt and pepper and a little onion juice (very cool); flour lightly, and broil as beefsteak. Make a brown gravy with a little soup stock, thicken with flour, and pour around the steak.
I’ll save this recipe for the weekend. Okay, finally I’ll shut up and send forth the recipe in question.
Steak à la Bordelaise
1 sirloin steak
2 tablespoonfuls butter
2 tablespoonfuls flour
2 cupfuls beef stock
2 tablespoonfuls chopped raw ham (I used bacon)
1/2 bay leaf (fussy French)
1 tablespoonful tomato catsup (I used ketchup)
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 cupful finely chopped mushrooms
Brown the butter and flour, stir in the stock; when thick and smooth, add the ham, bay leaf, and onion. Cover and simmer gently for an hour, then strain. Add salt, pepper, catsup, and mushrooms, and keep hot at the side of the fire (I just let it rest to the side, I don’t have a fire). Broil a sirloin steak, arrange on a hot platter, and pour this sauce around it.
Yeah, okay when I first read it I thought the steak would have been cooked in the sauce. NO !
The prep time was barely 15 minutes. The cook time was probably about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Instead of broiling the steak, I opted for a high heat pan sear in a cast iron pan, kerPOW.
The sauce was so smooth, so rich and flavorful. The smoky pork along with the reduced beef stock was a perfect match. Even a day later Mama was remarking to a friend how good it tasted.
I think if I redid this, I would add a splash of red wine or juice from half a lemon. Other than that, this was a wonderful meal.