Sunday, April 10, 2022

Bouilli - beef and soup

Bouilli was popular in France and with Jefferson, whose French chef often made it for White House dinners, and also sold it from his F street home/shop near Mr. Madison's home. Quality pieces of meat were slowly simmered for hours and served seperately, first the soup (broth) then the meat (bouilli). 3 talks on French food.

Honore Julien (1760/1–1830), Jefferson’s French chef for both terms (1801-1809), arrived in Philadelphia and worked for the wealthy Francophile William Bingham. He then served as George Washington’s chef his last four months as President in Philadelphia. Jefferson couldn’t get his former chef James Hemings, (who was trained in France, 1784-1789, while Jefferson was US Minister to France and freed in 1796) for the White House job, (more in post HERE ). He sent to Philadelphia for three Frenchmen - chef (Honore Julien), matre d’hotel (Etienne Lemaire), and doorkeeper (Jean Pierre Sioussat). More on Julien and Jefferson's White House dinners in upcoming post.

In 1809 Honore Julien went to Montecello for a short time and offered suggestions on the kitchen, including the stew stove. Jefferson wrote "The cook which I had in Washington (mr Julien) and who is now with me for a time, informs me you made for the President’s [White House] kitchen some irons of casting for the stoves or stew-holes in the kitchen, in which the box-part & the grille or bars were all solid together, and that you made them of three sizes. I must ask the favor of you to make 8. for me..." More on Foxall (took two years to pay) and other details in post HERE. Bouilli was probably among the dishes made in the unusually long stew stove.

Edith Hern Fossett and Frances Gillette Hern, enslaved cooks from Monticello, learned French cooking from Honore Julien at the White House kitchen for eight years and returned to the Monticello kitchen to make spendid meals. "His [Jefferson's] dinners are in the half Virginian half French style, in good taste, and abundant. Dec. 1924.
Life of Daniel Webster, Volume 1. George Ticknor Curtis. NY: 1870.

Bouilli at the Madison's c1804
At a dinner given by Dolly and Secretary of State James Madison, a congressman noted - “The round of beef of which the Soup is made is called Bouilli. It had in the dish spices and something of the sweet herb and Earlie kind, and a rich gravy. It is very much boiled and is still very good.”
Pictures of the City of Washington in the Past. Samuel Clagett Busey. 1898

Bouilli in France, 1803
“In the first place, there is always on the table a large piece of beef, which has been boiled for the soup. As France is as famous for soup and bouilli, as old England for roast beef, the French cooks have the art (perhaps more than any other) of making good soup, without spoiling the meat, the best pieces of which are used here for soup.”
Letters of an American Traveller in France. The Monthly Magazine. London: April 1, 1803

Jefferson “…liked boiled Beef, Bouilli, better than roast... I have no doubt that his Bouilli and his vegetables and his silver fork were all looked on with good humoured indulgence by his friends, and perhaps considered by his enemies as so many proofs of his being under french influence & conspiring with Bonaparte...” wrote his granddaughter Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge to Henry S. Randall, letter Feb 22, 1856. Monticello websiteHERE.

Lemaire's Bouilli recipe 1803
"Take 4 pounds of round of beef, put it in a soup kettle. Pour on 4 quarts of cold water and bring to a boil. Skim the foam as it rises. When the water boils add 1/2 cup cold water to clear it. Skim again. When all scum has been removed set over a very low flame and let it stew gently." ...
This is the start of Kimball's modern (1976) version of the recipe in the Montecello collection. Bouilli recipe by Etienne Lemaire, Maitre d’Hotel were included with Jefferson's letter to his daughter Maria Eppes Jan 18, 1803 HERE and modernied in Marie Kimball's book Thomas Jefferson’s Cook Book. Charlottesville, VA: 1976

Bouillie Beef. Raffald, 1778
"TAKE the thick end of a brisket of beef, put it into a kettle of water quite covered over, let it boil fast for two hours, then keep stewing it close by the fire for six hours more, and as the water wastes fill up the kettle, put in with the beef some turnips cut in little balls, carrots, and some clary cut in pieces: an hour before it is done take out as much broth as will fill your soup dish, and boil in it for that hour turnips and carrots cut out in balls or in little square pieces, with some celery, salt and pepper to your taste, serve it up in two dishes, the beef by itself, and the soup by itself; you may put pieces of fried bread, if you like it, in your soup, boil in a few knots of you think your soup will not be rich enough, you may add a pound or two of fried mutton chops to your broth when you take it from the beef, and let it stew for that hour in the broth, but be sure to take out the mutton when you send it to the table: the soup must be very clear."
Raffald, Elizabeth. The Experienced English Housekeeper. London: 1778

Beef Bouilli. (No. 5) Kitchiner, 1817
“In plain English, is understood to mean Boiled Beef; but its culinary acceptation, in the French Kitchen, is fresh beef dressed without boiling, and only very gently simmered by a slow fire.

English Cooks have seldom any notion, that Good Soup can be made without destroying a great deal of Meat ; however, by a judicious regulation of the Fire, and a vigilant attendance on the Soup kettle, this may be accomplished— you shall have a tureen of such Soup as will satisfy the most fastidious Palate, and the Meat make its appearance at table, at the same time, in possession of a full portion of nutritious succulence. This requires nothing more than to Stew the meat very slowly, (instead of keeping the pot boiling a gallop, as common Cooks too commonly do) - and to take it up as soon as it is done enough."

Soup and Bouilli (No. 238) Kitchiner, 1817
"The best parts for this purpose, are the Leg or Shin, or a piece of the middle of a Brisket of Beef, of about seven or eight pounds weight; lay it on a fish drainer, or when yon take it up, put a slice under it, which will enable you to place it on the dish entire; put it into a soup-pot or deep stewpan, with cold water enough to cover it, and a quart over, set it on a quick fire to get the scum up, which remove as it rises; then put in two carrots, two turnips, two leeks, or two large onions, two heads of celery, two or three cloves, and a faggot of parsley and sweet herbs; set the pot by the side of the fire to simmer very gently, till the meat is just tender enough to eat; this will require about four or five hours.

Put a large carrot, a turnip, a large onion, and a head or two of celery, into the soup whole,—take them out as soon as they are done enough, lay them on a dish till they are cold, then cut them into small squares:—when the Beef is done, take it out carefully,—to dish it up, see (No. 204, or 493), strain the Soup through a hair sieve into a clean stewpan, take off the Fat, and put the Vegetables that are cut into the Soup, the flavour of which you may heighten, by adding a table-spoonful of mushroom catsup.

If a Thickened Soup is preferred, take four large tablespoonsful of the clear Fat from the top of the pot, and four spoonsful of Flour; mix it smooth together, then by degrees stir it well into the soup, which simmer for ten minutes longer at least,—skim it well, and pass it through a tammis [cloth], or fine sieve, and add the Vegetables and seasoning the same as directed in the clear soup.

Keep the Beef hot, and send it up (as a remove to the Soup) with finely chopped Parsley sprinkled on the top, and a Sauce-boat of Bouilli."
Kitchiner, William. Apicius Redivivus. London: 1817

Bouilli. Acton, 1845
"(The Common Soup of France,- cheap, and very wholesome.)
This soup, or broth, as we should perhaps designate it in England, is made once or twice in the week, in every family of respectability in France; and by the poorer classes as often as their means will enable them to substitute it for the vegetable or maigre soups, on which they are more commonly obliged to subsist. It is served usually on the first day, with slices of untoasted bread soaked in it; on the second, it is generally varied with vermicelli, French Pot-au-Feu; or, Earthen rice, or semoulina. ...

“The stock-pot o the French artisan,” says Monsieur CarĂ©me, “supplies his principal nourishment; and it is thus managed by his wife, who, without the slightest knowledge of chemistry, conducts the process in a truly scientific manner. She first lays the meat into her earthen stock-pot, and pours cold water to it in the proportion of about two quarts to three pounds of the beef; (This is a large proportion of meat for the family of a French artisan; a pound to the quart would be nearer the reality; but it is not the refuse-meat which would be purchased by persons of the same rank in England for making broth.) she then places it by the side of the fire, where it slowly becomes hot; and as it does so, the heat enlarges the fibre of the meat, dissolves the gelatinous substances which it contains, allows the albumen (or the muscular part which produces the scum) to disengage itself, and rise to the surface, and the OSMAZOME (which is the most savoury part of the meat) to be diffused through the broth. Thus, from the simple circumstance of boiling it in the gentlest manner, a relishing and nutritious soup will be obtained, and a dish of tender and palatable meat; but if the pot be placed and kept over a quick fire, the albumen will coagulate, harden the meat, prevent the water from penetrating it, and the osmazome from disengaging itself; the result will be a broth without flavour or goodness, and a tough, dry bit of meat.” ...
Beef, 8 to 9 lbs.; water, 6 quarts; salt, 3 ozs. (more if needed); carrots, 4 to 6; turnips, 4 or 5; celery, one small head; leeks, 4 to 6; one onion, stuck with 6 cloves; pepper-corns, one small teaspoonful; large bunch of savoury herbs: (calf’s foot if convenient) to simmer 5 to 6 hours."
Acton, Eliza. Modern cookery in all its branches. London: 1845

Image of French Pot-au-Feu; or, Earthen Soup Pot. Acton, Eliza. Modern cookery in all its branches. London: 1853

Apr 23 Sat 1-3 The History of Macaroni and Cheese. Karima Moyer-Nocchi. Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. $25 hybrid HERE

Ap 28 Thu 12-1:30 Brexit, French Bread, & English Muffins. “Two 18th-century English breads offer us insights into 21st century politics: English French Bread and English Muffins. Talk plus recipes.” Rubel's Bread History Seminar. William Rubel HERE

Apr 29 Fri 12 . Maryann Tebben. Pepin Lecture. Boston University Gastronomy Program. HERE

James Hemings, working in Baltimore, turns down Thomas Jefferson for White House chef HERE

Jefferson's cheeks and grates for his Monticello and Poplar Forest stew-holes HERE

THIS WEEKS TALKS - there is not enough room in this post, so just go to the Calendar link


©2022 Patricia Bixler Reber
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