Cover for The Lewis and Clark Cookbook: Historic Recipes from the Corps of Discoveryand Jefferson's America (Celestial Arts — ISBN: 1587611473)
In the summer of 1803, President Thomas Jefferson dispatched Captain Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to lead an expedition through the vast unchartered wildnerness of the new West.
Their 7,000 mile voyage of discovery still fascinates Americans. This year marks the 200th anniversary of the expedition, and there is a virtual avalanche of books that examine almost every aspect of the legendary trek.
One book in particular — The Lewis and Clark Cookbook — answers a curious culinary question: Just how did the explorers feed themselves during their two-year trek?
Both Lewis and Clark kept meticulous diaries, including recipes. Using those diaries and other research, author Leslie Mansfield put together the cookbook, a collection of more than 100 recipies from the era calling for historically accurate ingredients — from exotic game to prarie roots to freshwater fish.
Below, a recipe for buffalo stew with suet dumplings:
2 pounds buffalo or beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup brandy
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup finely chopped Smithfield ham or prosciutto
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 cups beef stock
2 cups dry red wine
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon thyme
4 ounces suet
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold water
Season the buffalo meat with salt and pepper, and lightly toss with the flour. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the meat and brown on all sides. Stir in the brandy, scraping up any browned bits, and simmer until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. Transfer the meat to a bowl and set aside.
Add the butter to the pot and reduce heat to medium. Add the ham and sauté until lightly browned. Add the onion and carrots and sauté until tender. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Return the buffalo and any accumulated juices to the pot. Stir in the beef stock, red wine, parsley, bay leaf and thyme, and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for two hours or until the buffalo is very tender.
For the suet dumplings: Place the suet in a food processor and process until finely ground. Add the flour and salt, and pulse until well combined. With the processor still running, pour in the water in a thin stream. Pluse until the dough comes together in a ball. Shape the dumplings into golf-ball sized balls.
Add the dumplings to the simmering stew and turn them to coat in the sauce. Cover the pot and continue to cook an additional 25 minutes.