Beef Alamode

The multiple bills settled by the parish overseers for beef got me thinking about what it was that workhouse inmates were actually being served at meal times. Couple these bills with those made out for spices and the likelihood is that it was a form of ‘beef alamode’, a type of stew or soup that could be eaten hot, or when cold and solidified could be cut into slices. This was a very popular dish in Georgian England, so much so that there were entire eating houses devoted to it and it was a handy takeaway too. This was one pot cooking that could be kept on the stove for hours and feed large numbers of people. There are many variants on the recipe (or receipts as the Georgians called them) which were tailored to satisfy the demands of different ranks in society, but in essence the ingredients included the following: course beef, water, lard or dripping, flour, vinegar, onions, salt, black pepper and then an interchangeable selection of herbs and spices that could include mace, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and sweet herbs, or whatever was at hand.

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