Last week I gave you a brief story about the pomegranate (here). In it I mentioned the old-fashioned dish called a grenade (granade, granado etc.) which I referred to as a “glorified meatball.” I did the granade a severe disservice, for which I profoundly apologise. The granade was much fancier than a meatball or meatloaf, and I am determined to restore it to its rightful glory. How better to do this than to give a number of recipes from the time when it was in the limelight as a labour-intensive, impressive dish for fine dinners?
As we know, recipes evolve and sometimes change significantly over time, so firstly, let us look at some of the definitions of granade / grenade as they appear in various cook books and dictionaries over the last three centuries.
The OED does not give its own definition of grenade, simply noting it (in a rather dismissive way, I feel,) as a Cookery term, and leaving the first references to provide the insight. The first is from 1706, in Phillips’s New World of Words, and says:
Grenade,..in Cookery, a Dish, of larded Veal-collops bak'd in a Stew-pan between two Fires, with six Pigeons and a Ragoo in the middle, and cover'd on the top and underneath with thin slices of Bacon.
This definition appears to have been taken word-for-word from the English translation of Françoise Massialot’s Court and Country Cook (1702.) Here is his recipe:
To make a Grenade, ‘tis requisite to have a sufficient quantity of Fricandoe’s, or Scotch-Collops larded with small Slips of Bacon, and a round Stew-pan, that is not of too large a size. Then put some thin Slices of Bacon on the bottom, and set your Fricandoe’s in Order, with the Bacon on the outside; so as they may meet in a Point in the middle and touch one another. To keep this Order from being confounded in the dressing of the Meats, they must be bound together with the White of a beaten Egg; into which you may dip your Fingers, to moisten them on the Sides, which ought to be thinner than the rest. Into the hollow place made by this means, and also round about, you are able to put a little of the Farce of Mirotons, or some other Godivoe, reserving the middle for six pigeons dress’d in a Ragoo, with Veal-sweet-breads, Truffles, Mushrooms and small Slices of Gammon, all well season’d: The Ragoo is likewise to be pour’d into it, as if it were a Poupeton. Then cover the rest of the Farce on the top, ordering it with your Fingers dipt in a beaten Egg, and join the Fricandoe’s quite opposite thereto: Some Bards or thin Slices of Bacon are likewise to be laid on the top, and the whole Mess is to be bak’d à la Braise or between two Fires, to give it a fine colour. In order to serve it up hot, it must be turn’d upside down, and when the Fat is all taken away, the Point of the Fricandoe’s or Collops must be open’d like that of a Grenade or Pomegranate; from whence this sort of Mess* takes its Name.
[*Mess = dish or meal, as in the military sense of the word.]
In a post some long time ago (here) I gave the recipe for a granade from Elizabeth Moxon’s English housewifery, exemplified in above four hundred and fifty receipts, giving directions in most parts of cookery (13th Ed. 1790.) Her version is quite different in that it is cooked in a pot lined with a caul, which would indeed give it the appearance, when turned out, of a large meatball!
Take the caul of a leg of veal, lie it into a round pot; put a layer of the flitch part of bacon at the bottom, then a layer of forc’d meat, and a layer of the leg part of veal cut as for collops, ‘till the pot is filled up, which done, take the part of the caul that lies over the edge of the pot, close it up, tie a paper over, and send it to the oven; when baked, turn out into your dish.
Sauce: A good light-brown gravy, with a few mushrooms, morels or truffles: serve it up hot.
Moving ahead to the early nineteenth century, The professed cook; or, The modern art of cookery, pastry, & confectionary, made plain and easy (1812) by B.Clermont offers several versions of what the author calls a grenado. One of the variations contains crayfish and cauliflower – all meticulously arranged, with optional truffles.
Scalp four large craw-fish and a cauliflower; garnish the bottom of your stew-pan with slices of lard; lay the four crawfish at the bottom star-like, and between them some of the cauliflower, fillets of ham, roasted fowl and sliced truffles; bathe them with eggs to make them stick together, then put a good forced-meat round the pan of a proper thickness, interlarded with fillets of ham and fowl; leave a hole in the middle to put what ragout you please; cover it over with forced-meat, baked in the oven, turn it over gently, take off the slices of lard, and wipe it with a linen cloth; serve with Sauce Pontife.
Truffles are not absolutely necessary in this any more than in many other dishes; they are very good in most made dishes, but the price is to be considered, more particularly in England.
Another of Clermont’s grenados is a form of aspic, so intended to be served cold.
Grenade en Doube.
Cut half a dozen Grenadins, viz. small fricandeaus, and being larded and glazed, as to serve by themselves, cut the remainder of the leg of veal into large dice, and lard them irregularly with large pieces; cut a fowl also into pieces, which boil with the last veal in broth, adding a pint of white wine, a knuckle of veal, a faggot of parsley, chibbol, a clove or two of garlick, three heads of cloves, a laurel leaf, celery, thyme, and fine spices; when done, lay the fricandeaus at the bottom of your stew-pan (which you must always proportion to the bigness of the dish you propose to make), with thin slices of lard under them, and bit of fowl between; then lay in the bits of veal, and finish in the same manner; sift the broth, pour it over this preparation, and let it cool to jelly. You may add a calf's foot in the boiling, to make the jelly stronger. When you want to use it dip the stew-pan in warm water, and turn it over gently.
And from The Practice of Cookery (Edinburgh, 1830) by Mrs.Dalgairns, another variation, this time containing vermicelli.
Put alternately into a small potting pan or jar, a layer of each of the following ingredients: Vermicelli, ham, lard-boiled yolks of eggs, veal, and highly-seasoned forcemeat, all finely pounded, excepting the vermicelli, which is merely boiled. Cover the pan, and bake it in an oven from one to two hours; when turned out, pour over it some rich brown gravy, and garnish with mushrooms, cut lemon, or truffles and morels.
Another rather elegant fish grenade appears in Murray's Modern Cookery Book: Modern domestic cookery, by a lady (1851)
Grenade of Sole.
Split a fine sole downwards, take out the bone, and lard the inside with strips of gherkins and truffles, then cover one half of the sole with the following forcemeat, which will be again covered by the remaining half of the sole; fasten them together with 4 splinter skewers, and bake with 4 or 5 spoonfuls of weak meat or fish gravy.
Make the forcemeat of any dressed fish, crumbs of bread, the hard yolk of an egg, half a spoonful of boiled celery-root, half an anchovy, a spoonful of parsley, and half as much chervil, both finely minced, a little fat bacon or butter, and a raw egg, pepper and salt.
When dressed, keep the fish hot, while the gravy it was baked in is warmed with a spoonful of caper-vinegar, and the same of the gherkin-liquor, to serve round it, with a few sliced gherkins.
I understand there is a recipe for Grenades with Cherry Sauce in Theodore Garrett’s Encyclopaedia of Practical Cookery (1892), which sounds most intriguing. Sadly, this monumental multi-volume work is rare, highly priced – and not yet online as far as I can tell. It will have to wait.
Now, please tell me – is the grenade, as a concept, worthy of re-instating?