The tattered old cookbook that my daughter found at an estate sale contained a number of colored plates: Four of them illustrated cuts of beef to be gotten from a whole side of beef. Until the post-Civil War surge in cattle ranching, and the mass transport of cattle from Western ranches, the usual favored meat among Americans was – believe it or not – pork. But after the 1880s, beef ruled the American dinner-table, and from Lowney’s Cookbook Illustrated (of 1908) supplies some of the ways and methods of serving it up.
Wash and wipe six pounds of any inexpensive piece of beef: cover with boiling water; bring to the boiling point, then simmer until meat is tender, adding, the last hour of cooking, one cup each of carrot and onions, a bouquet of sweet herbs tied in a bag, pepper and one half tablespoon salt. Remove meat and reduce liquid to one and one half cups.
Shred meat, add liquid and press in bread pan, packing closely. When cold serve in thin slices.
Beefsteak Smothered in Onions
1 dozen small onions, 1 slice porterhouse steak, cut thick, salt & pepper.
Heat a frying pan hissing hot. Put in beefsteak, searing first on one side, then on the other; cook five minutess; season with salt and pepper; add onions which have been cooked one half hour in boiling salted water. Cover and simmer twenty or thirty minutes.
Remove steak to platter, spread with butter, and season with salt and pepper. Season onions with salt, pepper, and butter, and serve around steak.
Broiled Fillets of Beef With Oysters
Cut slices about two inches thick from fillet. Shape in circles. Place on greased broiler and broil over hot coals from four to six minutes, turning every ten seconds; place on a hot platter; sprinkle with salt and pepper; cover with oysters; dot with butter; and bake in oven until oysters curl. Serve immediatly, garnished with parsley and lemon.