Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Salmagundy is a layered salad with colorful greens, meat, anchovies, and eggs among the variety of ingredients, with a vinegar based dressing. Descriptions, recipes for salad and dressing, and types of lettuces. ...

The name has many variants such as salmagundi, salmagondi, salamongundy, sallad-magundy, Solomon Gundy, salmi-, salmogundy, salmagunda, and salmagundy.

"...is a beautiful small dish, if in nice shape, and if the colours of the ingredients are varied. For this purpose chop separately the white part of cold chicken or veal, yolks of eggs boiled hard, the whites of eggs; parsley, half a dozen anchovies, beet-root, red pickled cabbage, ham, and grated tongue, or any thing well-flavoured, and of a good colour. Some people like a small proportion of onion, but it may be better omitted. A saucer, large tea-cup, or any other base, must be put into a small dish; then make rows round it wide at bottom, and growing smaller towards the top; choosing such of the ingredients for each row as will most vary the colours. At the top a little sprig of curled parsley may be stuck in; or, without any thing on the dish, the salmagundy may be laid in rows, or put into the half-whites of eggs, which may be made to stand upright by cutting off a little bit at the round end. In the latter case, each half egg has but one ingredient. Curled butter and parsley may be put as garnish between." [Rundell, Maria Eliza.  A New System of Domestic Cookery.  Boston: 1807]

Making the Salad Recipe:"Take two or three Roman or Cabbage Lettice, and when you have washed them clean, swing them pretty dry in a Cloth; then beginning at the open End, cut them cross-ways, as fine as a good big Thread, and lay the Lettices so cut, about an Inch thick all over the Bottom of the Dish." [Glasse, Hannah.  The Art of Cookery.  Alexandria: 1747]

Layer the lettuce by alternating colars. Ingredients for the layers may also include: "lettuce, pepper grass, chervil, cress… young scallions" [Randolph], "Roman or Cabbage Lettice [head]… Lemon into small Dice…. Garnish with Grapes just scalded, or French beans blanched, or Station [Nasturtium] Flowers " [Glasse]. sorrel, spinach, endive, chicory, celery, fennel [Evelyn, John.  Acetaria: A Discourse of Sallets.  London: 1699].

Cut the white meat of a cooked chicken [see Chicken on a string] "...into Slices, about three Inches long, a Quarter of an Inch broad, and as thin as a Shilling; lay them upon the Lettice." [Glasse] Add Anchovies … "between each Slice of the Fowls…the dark of the Legs into Dice." Cut the whites of hard boiled eggs in rings, cut up the yolks of 2 eggs.

SALMAGUNDI DRESSING"…boil two fresh eggs ten minutes, put them in water to cool, then take the yelks in a soup plate, pour on them a table spoonful of cold water, rub them with a wooden spoon until they are perfectly dissolved; then add two spoonsful of oil: when well mixed, put in a teaspoonful of salt, one of powdered sugar, and one of made mustard; when all these are united and quite smooth, stir in two table spoonsful of common, and two of tarragon vinegar; put it over the salad." [Randolph, Mary.  The Virginia Housewife.  Baltimore: 1838]]

Making the dressing Recipe:
3 egg yolks, cooked
2T water
3T oil
1t salt
2t sugar
1t prepared mustard
1T vinegar
3T tarragon vinegar

Combine salt, mustard and sugar. Set aside. Mash the yolks in a bowl and blend with water. Add oil, then the mustard mixture. When smooth, slowly stir in the vinegars. Try with less vinegar and a little more sugar.

A 1915 description and picture from Marion Harris Neil's book The Something-different Dish:
"Salmagundi probably never appears on a modern menu, although it could describe a dish of engaging qualities. What is salmagundi? The dictionary says it was originally a dish consisting of chopped cooked meat, eggs, anchovies, onions, oil, etc. And in the second definition it is set forth that the dish may be a mixture of various ingredients; an olio or a medley; a hotch-potch; a miscellany.

It seems to be composed of ingredients which have no gastronomic affinity, and yet the dish, when evolved (by inspiration, so to speak), is worth the approval of our best diners. The dish gives large scope for inventiveness.  A salmagundy (this mode of spelling the word is the consensus of the majority of cookery book writers) was a hotchpotch of cold viands, such as chicken, veal, hardcooked eggs, herrings, parsley, beets, pickled cabbage, etc., arranged in appetizing order. According to the old books there was no limit fixed to the number of good things which might enter into the composition of a salmagundi…"

©2010 Patricia Bixler Reber

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