Friday, March 4, 2011

Lincoln's inauguration meals

After Abraham Lincoln's first inauguration on March 4, 1861, he may have dined on Mock Turtle Soup, Corned Beef and Cabbage, Parsley Potatoes and Blackberry Pie.  Mock Turtle Soup is actually made from a calf's head, as seen in the recipe from Eliza Leslie's Directions for Cookery, below.  Mrs. Lincoln owned a copy of this book.


This soup will require eight hours to prepare. Take a large calf's head, and having cleaned, washed, and soaked it, put it into a pot with a knuckle of veal, and the hock of a ham, or a few slices of bacon; but previously cut off and reserve enough of the veal to make two dozen small forcemeat balls. Put the head and the other meat into as much water as will cover it very well, so that it may not be necessary to replenish it: this soup being always made very rich. Let it boil slowly four hours, skimming it carefully. As soon as no more scum rises, put in six potatoes, and three turnips, all sliced thin; with equal proportions of parsley, sweet marjoram, and sweet basil, chopped fine; and pepper and salt to your taste.

An hour before you send the meat to table, make about two dozen small force-meat balls of minced veal and beef-suet in equal quantities, seasoned with pepper and salt; sweet herbs, grated lemon-peel, and powdered nutmeg and mace. Add some beaten yolk of egg to make all these ingredients stick together. Flour the balls very well, and fry them in butter. Before you put them into the soup, take out the head, and the other meat. Cut the meat from the head in small pieces, and return it to the soup. When the soup is nearly done, stir in half a pint of Madeira. Have ready at least a dozen eggballs made of the yolks of hard boiled eggs, grated or pounded in a mortar, and mixed with a little flour and sufficient raw yolk of egg to bind them. Make them up into the form and size of boy's marbles. Throw them into the soup at the last, and also squeeze in the juice of a lemon. Let it get another slow boil, and then put it into the tureen.

We omit a receipt for real turtle soup, as when that very expensive, complicated, and difficult dish is prepared in a private family, it is advisable to hire a first-rate cook for the express purpose.

An easy way is to get it ready made, in any quantity you please, from a turtle-soup house.
Directions for Cookery. Eliza Leslie. Phila: 1840 11th ed.

Should brown gravy or mock turtle soup be spoiling, fresh-made charcoal, roughly pounded, tied in a little bag and boiled with either, will absorb the bad flavor and leave it sweet and good. The charcoal may be made by simply putting a bit of wood into the fire, and pounding the burnt part in a mortar.
The Cook's Own Book. Mrs. N.K.M. Lee and Eliza Leslie. Boston: 1840

The menu for the 1865 Inauguration ball dinner is from the Library of Congress online collection HERE. Click on the image for an enlarged view.

©2011 Patricia Bixler Reber

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