Wednesday, March 11, 2020


Olio was an extravagant stew of many meats, vegetables, herbs and spices served in it's own "close-covered" cooking "olio pot."   Vincent La Chapelle, "Chief Cook" to the Earl of Chesterfield, included three recipes in his 1733 work The Modern Cook - one French Olio and two Spanish.  By the 1860s a Crab Olio was in two Maryland cookbooks - no meat, but crab, eggplant and tomatoes.

 Olio was also used for a collection of a variety of writings, or even songs (left) in book titles.

La Chapelle's French Olio (below) contained beef, veal, mutton, old partridge, old fowl, old turkey, ham and sausage. Carrots, parsnips, onions, turnips, celery, leeks and mignonette of coriander seeds, pepper, cloves and nutmeg. Then rasped French rolls, rice or vermicelli were added and served hot.

His Spanish Olio recipe HERE described how to prepare a pyramid of meats for the table. Beef grissel, mutton, veal, sheeps rumps, hog’s feet & ears,partridges, pigeons, ham, cervelas, roots, celery, leeks, cabbage, onions, mignonette, and peas.  To serve on dish or olio-pot layer first with beef, veal, mutton and roots. Then hogs feet and ears, cabbage, celery and leeks. Lastly Spanish peas with broth.  To serve in covered China cups, put thin strips of toast by broth.
French Olio 1733
To make a French Olio.
Take as much Meat as your Olio's require:
For two Olio's take eight pound of buttock of Beef, the same quantity of Veal, and a leg of Mutton, taking off all the fat; put all together into a large Gravy-pan, and set it a sweating over the Stove: When your Meat sticks lightly to the Gravy-pan, moisten it with Broth; but take care it be not too high colour'd; then take out all your Meat, and put it in a Broth-pot, skim the fat well off the Liquor, and strain it into the pot; fill it up with other Broth, then put it on the fire; add three or four dozen of blanch'd Carrots and Parsnips, with two dozen of Onions, a few Turnips, a bunch of Celery, a bunch of Leeks, and a Mignonette [see below]; put likewise two old Partridges, an old Fowl, an old Turkey, a piece of Ham, and a Cervelas [sausage]; make your pot boil gently; take care your Broth be always very clear and well-tasted; then take the crusts of rasped French Rowls [rolls] and put them into a Stew-pan, strain in some of your Olio Broth, and let it simmer a while over the Stove; when the Bread is soaked, put it in an Olio-pot, and pour the Broth thereon, with some Roots and Celery, if you think fit.  (If you serve it in a Dish, you must garnish it round the edge with all sorts of Roots)  Then put upon your Pottage two Partidges.  They are used for all sorts of Olio's of Rice. Your Rice being pick'd and wash'd, put it in a Soop-pot, and put some Olio Broth to it; and when enough, dish it up. Vermicelli is prepared the same way.

(Mignonette) is made thus: Take a piece of Etamine [thin cloth], and tie up in a piece of Etaminepinch, a little handful of Coriander seeds, some Pepper, a dozen of Cloves, and a Nutmeg; bind [tie the pouch] (Mignonette) and put them in your Olio. 

An Olio must be serv’d very hot. 

[Etamine – Eliza Smith’s Complete Housewife, London: 1766 - “is a stuff used for a strainer.”]

An Olio.  1862  Spain
Boil in a close-covered pot, a fowl, a couple of partridges, a piece of a leg of mutton, a knuckle of veal, and a few rump-steaks; also a piece of good streaked bacon or ham. Brown the meat first; add boiling water; and when it has boiled an hour, add parsley, celery, young onions, pease, carrot, turnip, and a bit of garlic, if it is liked, with salt and mixed spices. Serve the whole together, first picking out the bacon. Savoury herbs may also be used.— See Pepper-pot, No. 93. An olio is properly a Spanish dish; but Spain as a nation is not eminent in cookery, though the olio, and a few more of its omne-gatherum stews of meat, pulse, and roots, are worthy of attention. In "Murray's
Hand-book of Spain" will be found as many Spanish receipts as any one cares for.

Crab Olio.     Howard 1873
Boil one large egg-plant; scald half a dozen large tomatoes, and skin them (use more if they are small). Drain them on a sifter, until the water is out of them. When cold, chop the egg-plant and tomatoes together, with the meat of three or four crabs. Beat three eggs and mix in with the other ingredients; also pepper and salt. First fry it in a skillet, with a table-spoonful of butter, then brown it in the dish in which it is to be sent to table, with crumbs of bread.


Bliss, Mrs.  Practical Cook Book ...  Phila: 1850   3 recipes
Grose, Francis.  The Olio: Being a Collection of Essays, Dialogues, Letters, Biographical ...  1796
Howard, Jane.  Fifty Years in a Maryland Kitchen.  Baltimore: 1873
Johnstone, Christian Isobel.  The Cook and Housewife's manual, by Margaret Dods.  Edinburgh: 1862
La Chapelle, Vincent.  The Modern Cook.  Vol. 1.  London: 1733
The Magical Olio. Consisting of Polkas, Schottisches, Waltzes & Galops. No. 1. Magic Bell Polka.  Phila: 1854   image

©2020 Patricia Bixler Reber
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