November 1, 2011, by Andrew Burden
Recipe of the month: Stewed rump of beef ‘the Welsh way’
The large quantities of herbs and spices used in 18th-century recipes are thought by some to have helped to disguise the taste of old meat, as preservation of fresh food before the invention of reliable refrigeration techniques was difficult. However, rich families with access to their own livestock, or the money to buy quality food, may simply have liked the complex taste of fashionable spices such as nutmeg.
This recipe is for a boiled rump of beef, left standing for two days, then stewed with a tasty herb and spice stuffing, and served with a wine or cider sauce. Despite the name, it does not seem to include any ingredient which we would nowadays associate principally with Wales. The recipe comes from Elenor Mundy’s book, dated 1728.
Modern cooks with busy lives might like to try leaving out boiling the meat and leaving it for two days. Instead, they could start by browning the meat in a pan, then preparing the stuffing, and finally setting the meat to stew on a fairly low heat for a few hours, following modern recipes and oven temperatures for stewed beef.
A Rump of Beef stewed the Welch Way (MS 86, f. 91r)
First parboyle it, and when it is cold, season it for two days with pepper and salt; then stuff it very thick with Thyme, Marjerome, winter Savoury, and Parsly choppd very small, nuttmegg and mace beaten fine, and beef suett chopp’d very small. Incorporate all these like a Paste, putting a little all suett, before and after, into each hole [modern stuffed rump steak recipes involve making a slit into the side of the steak]; put a crust of bread into the broth [the recipe does not give details about what the broth is made with, but it perhaps just means the water for stewing, which could be a stock], with a bundle of sweet herbs, and an onion. Cover it close, and stew it leisurely. [The recipe misses out a stage at this point, which must be to take the beef out of the pot when it is stewed]. For sauce, have ready seethed together some Claret, or Cyder, some of the broth, and some of the stuffing reserv’d for that purpose, pour it on your Beef in the dish – It must be eaten all, hot.