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Old 02-05-2012, 08:34 AM   #1
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Traditonal Fish Muddle (stew)

We have a primitive winter encampment coming up in a couple of weeks. I am looking for suggestions for a traditional recipe for a fish muddle. I have yet to be able to recreate my Dad's recipe. The best I have come up with is a brunswick stew recipe substituting fish for the chicken (and/or rabbit, squirrel, etc.). Tasty but not exactly my Dad's recipe. I ran across a recipe based on a fish stew from Colonial Williamsburg that bears looking at a little closer. I would appreciate anyone's suggestions, keeping in mind that this is a primitive event and I would prefer to use traditional ingredients.
In the past, I have generally roasted a leg of venison on a spit over a good bed of coals but I would like to try something a trifle less intensive and to keep the spirit of the event intact. Try as I might, I have yet to talk the booshway out of the usual fare that we provide for the whole camp at the evening meal on Saturday. ...pork ribs. Now don't get me wrong, he does a good job on the ribs and has to prepare a couple dozen racks of ribs and I understand his desire for short cuts here and there. I just want to offer an alternative or accompany the ribs with a stew. Thanks!
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Old 02-05-2012, 08:44 AM   #2
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Be careful with CW recipes, Hoot. Many times they are dishes served at their restaurants which have the appearance of authenticity, but aren't necessarily period correct. Even those that are adapted from original materials are often 19th century.

While I'm sure people in the 18th century may have stretched fish supplies by cooking them in a stew, I'm unfamiliar with any recipe that does that. Not surprising, though, as most cookbooks and cookery manuscripts represent high-end cooking.

One example: Pumpkin cooked in milk was one of the most commonly served suppers, particularly as you got further from urban centers. Yet I've never seen a written-down "reciept" for that dish.

Anyway, let me do some searching and see if I can find something suitable. You prefer fresh to salt fish?
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Old 02-05-2012, 08:50 AM   #3
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Actually, salt fish would likely serve my purposes. Cod would be a better choice than herring in a stew....too many bones. I understand your point about CW recipes. I figure that if there was a crowd to feed and fish, salted or fresh, was available, a thick, hearty stew might be a good way to get everybody fed.
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Old 02-05-2012, 09:00 AM   #4
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Hoot,

I looked in some of my older cookbooks and could not find a muddle but, I did come across some purloos or pilaus. They are backwoods Florida or low Country Carolina rice dishes that are fairly cheap and tasty. You can use anything from shrimp to squirrel! Take a look on line if you are interested. I saw several.
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Old 02-05-2012, 09:04 AM   #5
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Thanks, Aunt Bea! I will do that!
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Old 02-05-2012, 09:07 AM   #6
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Got to be thinking that early 19th century is fine, for you, right? Your group's cut-off is 1840? So, I immediately thought of Jefferson. Lo and behold, he has a recipe in his cooking notes that may work for you, as it's simple, and easily adaptible. He calls it:

"New Way of Boiling Fish

The addition of a few herbs and vegetables in the water gives a very nice flavor to the fish. And, according to taste, half a sliced onion, a sprig of thyme, a bay leaf, winter savory, 2 carrots, a stalk of celery, 3 or 4 whole cloves, a blade of mace, using whichever of the ingredients you have at hand.
Fresh water fish, which have no particular flavor, are preferably done thus, with the addition of a little vinegar."

This is not really a stew, the way we think of it. Keep in mind that when he says "boil" he means what we would call "poach." So, essentially, this is fish poached in a court bouillon.

But it should be easily adaptible for a crowd. I would choose a firm-fleshed fish, cut in largish pieces. Go a little heavy on the veggies, and, perhaps, include some potatoes as well.

Mary Randolph has an even better---for your purposes---possibility:

"To Dress Cod fish

Boil the fish tender, ick it from the bones, take an equal quantity of Irish potatos, or parsips boiled ad chopped, and the same of onions, well boiled; add a sufficiency of melted butter, some grated nutmeg, pepper, and salt, with a little brandy or wine; rub them in a mortar till well mixed; if too stiff, liqify it with cream or thickened milk, plut paste in the bottom of a dish, pour in the fish and bake it. For change, it may be baked in the form of patties."

Note that this is actually a fish pot pie. Savory pies were very common in those days, and were variously made with just a bottom crust, just a top crust, or with both.

We make savory pies often in Dutch ovens, so that shouldn't be a problem if you choose this dish. I've got one for a salt fish pie, for instance, that we make that way which is spectacular.

In fact, a fish pie might make more sense for you than a stew. They're easy to make, and impress the heck out of folks.
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Old 02-05-2012, 09:13 AM   #7
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I just want to offer an alternative or accompany the ribs with a stew. Thanks!

Are you locked in to fish or seafood for this? Seems to me, if there's going to be the ribs, anyway, that a hearty soup would make sense. Many more options, and easy to fix for a crowd.

Also keep in mind that even using cod, fish for a crowd can get kind of pricy.
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Old 02-05-2012, 09:17 AM   #8
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Well now, both of those are very interesting! I reckon I should brush up on Jefferson! It simply didn't occur to me that Jefferson's writings could be a source of cooking information. Thinking about it, though, he was certainly interested in a host of endeavors.
I like the idea of a fish pot pie, too!
Yep, I got some work to do, now!
Thank you so much!
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Old 02-05-2012, 09:23 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HistoricFoodie View Post
I just want to offer an alternative or accompany the ribs with a stew. Thanks!

Are you locked in to fish or seafood for this? Seems to me, if there's going to be the ribs, anyway, that a hearty soup would make sense. Many more options, and easy to fix for a crowd.

Also keep in mind that even using cod, fish for a crowd can get kind of pricy.
I was thinking about this for a while, but I am in no way locked in on this.
These are some interesting and different items that I have not seen too many folks bring to the Rendezvous. Other than fried, the only fish I have run across was some poorly made fish jerky. Thanks for these ideas!
I look forward to any and all ideas on this!
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Old 02-05-2012, 09:35 AM   #10
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I like the idea of a fish pot pie, too!

The most difficult part of making savory pies at rendezvous is finding a place to roll out the dough. You can work around that easily enough, however, by using commercial pie shells.

An alternative, for top crusts, is to roll the paste into marble-sized balls. Flatten each ball into a coin, then cover the top of the pie with them. Works like a charm, and presents an interesting textural break as well.

If you use the Mary Randolph recipe I would recommend pre-cooking the fish at home, then assemble the rest of the dish in camp.

Oddly enough, frying was the least common method of cooking fish in colonial/federalist America. But not for the reason usually given by buckskinners.

Do you want that salt fish pie recipe?
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