Friday, June 3, 2016

Cold Veal Loaf: Perfect Party Food

Cold Veal Loaf Surrounding by Other Foods Acceptable for a Summer Picnic in 1877

About the Choice of Recipe
While trying to find a historic recipe that would be good for serving a large crowd at the 2017 Twelfth Night Ball Supper at Riversdale House Museum in Riverdale Park, Maryland, I decided to use a recipe for Cold Veal Loaf that I originally made for the Historical Food Fortnightly 2016 Challenge #11 for Picnic Foods. This is a great dish to make for a ball supper as well as a picnic because it can be served at room temperature and is quite easy to assemble and make in advance. It can also be made to accommodate those with a gluten issue by using gluten free panko breadcrumbs. Lastly, this year's festive interpretation of Riversdale House Museum spans several different time periods, so using a recipe from 1877, about seven decades after the normal time period of interpretation at Riversdale, is also rather fitting.

The Recipe
According to Estelle Woods Wilcox in her 1877 cookery book Buckeye Cookery (Minneapolis, Minnesota), for a picnic one must "pack [the] provision basket as full as the law allows, or as the nature of the occasion and the elasticity of the appetites demand." Wilcox  gives explicit lists of foods that can be considered acceptable for picnics in spring, summer, and fall. Here is what she prescribes for a summer picnic:

SUMMER PICNICS.--Cold baked or broiled chicken; cold boiled ham; pickled salmon; cold veal loaf; Parker House rolls; light bread; box of butter; green corn boiled or roasted; new potatoes; sliced tomatoes; sliced cucumbers; French and Spanish pickles; peach and pear sweet-pickles; lemon or orange jelly; strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries; lemonade; soda-beer or raspberry vinegar; coffee and tea; ice-cream; lemon or strawberry-ice; sponge, white, Buckeye, or lemon cake; watermelon, muskmelon, nutmeg-melon.

While I am not a big fan of recipe titles that contain the word "loaf"  (ham loaf  nut loaf, meatloaf, etc), I decided to pick Cold Veal Loaf from Wilcox's list. It is something I have never had and was intrigued to see how it compares to meatloaf made with beef. Wilcox offers this recipe for it in her book:

Veal Loaf: Modern Recipe Adaptation

  • 1 Cup of Crushed Unsalted Saltine Crackers (about 24 crackers), Divided
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
  • 1/4 Cup Warm Water
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 1/4 Pound Ground Veal (or a combination of veal and another meat such as ground turkey, pork, beef, or chicken)

1. Heat oven to 375º F.
2. Line a broiling pan or jelly roll pan with parchment paper.
3. Place 1/2 cup of the crushed crackers in a mixing bowl. Add the egg, melted butter, warm water, salt, and pepper to the crackers. Stir until blended.
4. Allow the cracker mixture to sit for 5 minutes to allow the crackers to soften. Mix again.
5. Add the ground veal to the cracker mixture and gently blend until the cracker mixture is evenly distributed throughout the meat.
6. Place the meat onto the parchment-lined sheet and shape into a log. Cover the meat entirely with the remaining 1/2 cup of cracker crumbs.

Cracker Crumbs on Veal Loaf ready for Oven

7. Bake for about 45-50 minutes, until the meat reaches 160º F and the cracker coating is nicely golden brown.

Cold Veal Loaf, Baked

8. Let cool and then slice.

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