Martha Washington (1731-1802) - From the Garden to the Table
While George Washington oversaw most aspects of managing Mount Vernon's pleasure gardens & grounds, Martha Washington oversaw the Kitchen Garden (The Lower Garden), allowing her to keep fruits and vegetables on the table year round.
“…impress it on the gardener to have every thing in his garden that will be nece]ssary in the House keeping way — as vegetable is the best part of our living in the country.” – Martha Washington, 1792
Inside the Kitchen at Mount Vernon
Forced Beef Tenderloin
One of the most valuable tools in the Mount Vernon kitchen was Martha Washington's copy of The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy...By a Lady. Martha's copy is in the Library at Mount Vernon. Hannah Glasse's (1708–1770) The Art of Cookery...was first published in 1747. It was a bestseller for a century after its first publication, dominating the English-speaking market. It was published in America from 1805.
Mrs. Washington may have owned a number of cookbooks, but her 1765 edition of Hannah Glasse's The Art of Cookery and a manuscript cookbook (now at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania) are the only ones known to survive. The manuscript book (under the title Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery) is a very early compilation of 16th and 17th century receipts and came into Martha's possession at the time of her marriage to Daniel Parke Custis who died in 1757.
Recipes from The Lady’s Companion and Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery are combined in this recipe for beef tenderloin stuffed with forcemeat. Forcemeat can be made up of a variety of ingredients, including ground raw or cooked meat, poultry, fish and/or vegetables. Traditionally, ingredients such as fresh or dried fruit, breadcrumbs, herbs, and spices are also added to bind and flavor the mixture. This recipe is a modern adaptation by culinary historian Nancy Carter Crump for the book Dining with the Washingtons.
1 beef tenderloin (4 1/2 to 5 pounds)
Ground black pepper
4 shallots, peeled and divided
3 cups fresh breadcrumbs
4 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, divided
1 1/2 cups dry red wine, divided
About 1/4 cup melted lard or olive oil
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup Basic Beef Stock
Fresh rosemary and thyme sprigs for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Set a rack in a roasting pan.
2. Season the tenderloin all over with salt and pepper, rubbing into the surface. With a sharp fillet knife (or other thin-blade, medium-size knife), cut a pocket in the side of the tenderloin, being careful not to cut all the way through to the other side. Reserve any meat removed from the pocket during this process.
3. Finely chop or grind the reserved meat. Finely chop 2 of the shallots and mix with the chopped meat, breadcrumbs, lemon zest, nutmeg, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon of the rosemary. Combine this forcemeat with about 1/4 cup of the red wine, just enough to bind the mixture. Stuff it into the tenderloin pocket, packing tightly. Close the pocket with skewers or by tying the loin with kitchen twine at 6- to 8-inch intervals along the length of the roast. Brush the surface with melted lard.
4. Set the tenderloin in the prepared roasting pan, and roast for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 400°F, and roast for about 20 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meat registers 130°F to 135°F for medium-rare—or to desired doneness.
5. While the beef is roasting, begin making the sauce. Thinly slice the remaining 2 shallots. In a skillet set over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter. Add the shallots and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened. Raise the heat to medium high, and stir in the remaining 1 1/4 cups of red wine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and cook at a rapid simmer until the sauce is reduced to about 1 cup. Stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of rosemary and the stock. Bring the sauce back to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 5 to 8 minutes, until reduced by half. Remove the sauce from the heat, cover, and set aside.
6. Remove the tenderloin from the oven, and let rest for about 15 minutes before slicing.
7. To finish the sauce while the tenderloin rests, set it over low heat. Cut the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into small pieces and whisk into the sauce, a few pieces at a time, until it is incorporated and the sauce is smooth. Pour any juices that have accumulated from the rested tenderloin into the sauce, and stir well to combine. Season with salt and pepper, if necessary.
8. To serve, cut the tenderloin into 1/4-inch-thick slices, or as desired, and arrange on a platter. Spoon sauce over the top, and garnish with sprigs of rosemary and thyme. Pour remaining sauce into a sauceboat, and serve on the side.
Research plus images & much more are available from Geo Washington's (1732-1799) home Mount Vernon website, MountVernon.org.