31 October 1903

By Mrs Alfred Praga (“The Careful Cook”)

It is often easy to produce very dainty little made dishes at a cost practically nil, if only due care is taken of the odds and ends which will persist in accumulating in even the best-regulated larders. For example, let us suppose that the carcass of a chicken remain on hand, together with, perhaps, a couple of ounces of cold tongue. If every particle of meat be carefully picked off that carcass it will yield another 2oz to 3oz, which, if added to the cold tongue, makes 4oz or 5oz of meat in all. Now if turned into croquettes or rissoles this will make as dainty a dish as the heart of an economical housewife for the palate of a fastidious husband could desire. Here is the recipe itself:

Take 4oz of any sort of cold meat, and chop it finely by hand. Reserve on a plate. Place half a pint of milk (skim milk will do) in a clean stewpan. Add to it a slice of onion, a slice of turnip, if obtainable a bit of celery, and a good-sized sprig of parsley. Cover the pan and simmer very slowly until the milk tastes strongly of the herbs, but take care that it does not boil away even in the smallest degree, then strain it off into a clean stewpan. Note: Allow at least 15 min for the simmering process.

Place 1oz of butter in another stewpan, and directly it melts add to it by degrees 1oz of well-dried and sifted flour; stir rapidly for five minutes with a small wooden spoon, and then add, also very gently and by degrees, the flavoured milk; allow each portion of milk to become thoroughly mixed with the flour and butter before the next is added, and this is the only way to avoid lumps.

Should any lumps form by chance, then the sauce must be well stirred until quite smooth and thick before the next lot of milk is added. It is the neglect of this simple precaution which is the cause of the pasty, lumpy poultices which in England are served up under the misnomer of sauce.

When all the milk had been added, continue to stir it until it comes to the boil, and then keep boiling it for five or six minutes, still stirring all the time. Add pepper and salt to taste, and if the flavour is liked a tiny grate of nutmeg.

Remove from the fire, and allow the sauce to cool a little. Then mix it with the chopped meat, lightly but very thoroughly. Spread out the mixture upon a large plate to the depth of an inched, and leave it in the larder until quite cold. Then shape into balls about the size of a small tangerine; egg and breadcrumb these.

Place enough clarified beef dripping in a deep stewpan to half fill it when melted. Put this on the fire and bring to the boil. As soon as it is actually boiling, ie when the blue smoke is rising, but not before, add the croquettes, a few at a time only, and fry till of a bright golden-brown hue. Take out quickly, drain carefully on clean kitchen paper, and serve at once.

A dish of well-baked potatoes, each potato spilt open and a bit of butter and a little pepper and salt inserted, are nice with this dish; or in summer-time a dish of green peas and new potatoes. Not only chicken and tongue, but cold game of any kind, or any sort of meat, may be used for these croquettes.

Are made in a similar way, and are almost equally nice. Take sufficient cold boiled or fried fish to yield 4oz or 6oz, when freed from skin, bone, etc. Flake it into tiny pieces — it is not needful to chop it.

Make half a pint of sauce as described in the foregoing recipe. Mix it with the fish — adding also a few drops of anchovy to the sauce if liked — lightly but thoroughly. Leave till cold. Shape into small balls, and fry in boiling fat until of a light golden-brown hue. Take out quickly, drain carefully, and serve at once. A little tomato catsup made hot may be handed separately, if liked, with these croquettes.

Any scraps of white fish, either fried or boiled, may be utilised in this fashion, but brown fish is not suitable, as it is too rich. Croquettes of salmon, however, are nice for those who can digest very rich food. They are made as directed in the foregoing recipe.

When a portion of cold boiled rice remains over from a curry it can be turned into as admirable dish for high tea as follows:

Make half a pint of sauce as directed in the foregoing recipe. Add to it 4oz or 6oz of cold boiled rice; mix very thoroughly, and spread out upon a large dish to the depth of an inch. Leave till perfectly cold, then shape into balls. Make an opening in the centre of each, and put in a spoonful of potted meat or fish, any sort best liked will do. Close up the croquette again, and roll each in egg and breadcrumbs, then fry in boiling fat, as directed in the foregoing recipes, until of a light golden-brown hue. Take out, drain carefully, and serve.

When, as sometimes happens, there is “nothing in the house,” try the following:— Buy 6d of chickens’ livers — these may be had at any poulterer’s — wash them and dry them well. Place 1oz of butter or clarified beef dripping in a small stewpan; directly it melts add the livers, together with a spoonful of minced shallot, and a teaspoonful of minced parsley. Dust with pepper and salt and fry for five minutes.

Then add a gill of stock, or Bovril and water, and stew for another three or four minutes. Dredge in a little flour to thicken, and if possible add a spoonful of sherry or port. This is unnecessary, but is a very great improvement. Boil up; add a little more pepper and salt if thought needful.

Dish upon a hot dish, garnish with a border of mashed potatoes. For the latter, mash 1lb of freshly-boiled potatoes with a wineglassful of absolutely boiling milk and a bit of butter about the size of a walnut; whisk till quite white and light, and then use as directed.

This, which is in a manner of speaking made entirely of scraps, is yet very good. Take 4oz or 8oz of any sort of cold meat, poultry, or game — a mixture of one of these with a little chopped lean ham or bacon is perhaps best. Have ready some freshly boiled mashed potatoes. Spread a layer of these at the bottom of a pie dish, then put a layer of the meat.

Cover this with a layer of freshly-fried onions, then sprinkle with grated cheese and fried breadcrumbs. Continue these layers until the dish is full. Moisten with a little stock or gravy; strew the top very thickly with fried onions and breadcrumbs, and grate over the whole 1oz of cheese (any scraps of dried cheese will do just as well as fresh for this); place a few bits of butter here and there, and bake in a moderate oven until of a golden-brown hue. Take out and serve at once. Fish may be used in place of meat if liked.

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