Stwed Beeff (Stewed/Braised Beef)

Recipe from Handout

2-3 lbs. of beef, cut in cubes for stewing
1/2 cup flour
2-3 onions minced
5 Tbsp. oil
5-6 cups beef stock
2 Tbsp. minced parsley
1-2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. mace
1/4 cup raisins or currants
4 black peppercorns
1/2 cup red wine
2 tsp. wine vinegar
pinch saffron

Dredge beef in flour and brown in oil. Bring remaining ingredients to a boil in a stock pot. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until meat is tender (about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes).

Source for Recipe Presented

Harleian MS 4016 - Redaction by Siobhan Medhbh O'Roarke
p. 56 Traveling Dysshes
Siobhan Medhbh O'Roarke. Traveling Dysshes: or Foods for Wars, Peace, and Pot-lucks. Copyright 1995, 1996 by Patricia O. McGregor.

Notes and additional versions

As Angharad/Terry points out in the stew thread from the Florilegium
"In general, European dishes that are stew-like contain meat (or fowl or fish), broth, thickener, onions, herbs, and spices. There are a few recipes with greens. I have not seen any for a meat stew with veggies on the order of carrots, turnips, etc."

Now if you go a little bit post period, to Digby, you can find a dish that is very like the Beef Stew most people think should have been eaten in period.


Harleian MS. 4016
17 Stwed Beeff. Take faire Ribbes of ffresh beef, And (if thou wilt) roste hit til hit be nygh ynowe; then put hit in a faire possenet; caste (th)er-to parcely and oynons mynced, reysons of corauns, powder peper, canel, clowes, saundres, safferon, and salt; then caste there-to wyn and a litull vynegre; sette a lyd on (th)e potte, and lete hit boile sokingly on a faire charcole til hit be ynogh; (th)en lay the fflessh, in disshes, and the sirippe there-vppon, And serve it forth.

Harleian MS. 279 - Potage Dyvers
vj. Beef y-Stywyd. Take fayre beef of (th)rybbys of (th)e fore quarterys, an smyte in fayre pecys, an wasche (th)e beef in-to a fayre potte; (th)an take (th)e water (th)at (th)e beef was so(th)in yn, an strayne it (th)orw a straynowr, an sethe (th)e same water and beef in a potte, an let hem boyle to-gederys; (th)an take canel, clowes, maces, graynys of parise, quibibes, and oynons y-ynced, perceli, an sawge, an caste (th)er-to, an let hem boyle to-gederys; an (th)an take a lof of brede, an stepe it with brothe an venegre, an (th)an draw it (th)orw a straynoure, and let it be stylle; an whan it is nere y-now, caste (th)e lycour (th)er-to, but nowt to moche, an (th)an let boyle onys, an caste safroun (th)er-to a quantyte; (th)an take salt an venegre, and cast (th)er-to, an loke (th)at it be poynaunt y-now, & serue forth.

Tudor/Elizabethan England

From Sallets, Humbles & Shrewsbery Cakes, which reproduces the recipe but doesn't identify which cookbook it came from
To stue Beefe. Take Beefe and smyte it in peeces, and wash it in faire water, and draine that water and put it in the potte with the Beefe, and boyle them together. Then take Pepper, Cloves, Mace, Onions, Parsley and Sage, cast it thereto and let it boyle together: Then make licquor with bread and thicke it: and so let it seethe a good while after that the thicking is in. Then put in Saffron, Salt and vinegar, and so serve it forth.

John Murrell, A Booke of Cookerie
To stew Fillets of Beefe. Take a rawe fillet of beefe and cut it in thin slices halfe as broad as your hand and fry them till they bee halfe fried in a frying-panne with sweete butter uppon each side with a soaft fire, then powre them into a dish or pipkin putting in a pint of claret-wine, a faggot of sweet herbes, and two or three blades of whole mace, a little salt, the meate of a Lemon cut in slices, then stewe these all together very softly for the space of two or three houres till it be halfe boyled away, then dish it up on sippets and throwe salt upon it, and serve it to the table hot.

Slightly Post Period

From "The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digbie, Kt. Opened: etc" Pub. posthumously by his son, 1669. Pg. 124
An Ordinary Potage
Take the fleshy and sinewy part of a leg of Beef, crag-ends of necks of Veal and Mutton. Put them in a ten quarts pot, and fill it up with water. Begin to boil about six a clock in the Morning, to have your potage ready by Noon. When it is well skimmed, put in two or three large Onions in quarters, and half a loaf (in one lump) of light French bread, or so much of the bottom crust of a Venison Pasty; all which will be at length clean dissolved in the broth. In due time season it with Salt, a little Pepper, and a very few Cloves. Likewise at a fit distance, before it be ended boiling, put in store of good herbs, as in Summer, Borrage, Bugloss, Purslain, Sorel, Lettice, Endive, and what else you like; in Winter, Beetes, Endive, Parsley-roots, Cabbage, Carrots, whole Onions, Leeks, and what you can get or like, with a little Sweet-marjoram and exeeding little Thyme. Order it so that the broth be very strong and good. To which end you mnay after four hours (or three) boil a Hen or Capon in it; light French-bread sliced, must be taken about noon, and tosted a little before the fire, or crusts of crisp new French-bread; lay it in a dish, and pour some of the broth upon it, and let it stew a while upon a Chafing-dish. Then pour in more Broth, and if you have a Fowl, lay it upon the bread in the broth, and fillit up with broth, and lay the herbs and roots all over and about it, and let it stew a little longer, and serve it up covered, after you have squeesed some juyce of Orange or Limon, or put some Verjuyce into it. Or you may beat two or three Eggs, with part of the broth, and some Verjuyce, or juyce of Orange, and then mingle it with the rest of the broth.

The Queens Hotchpot. From her Escuyer de Cuisine, Mr. la Montague. (Digby, p144)
The Queen Mothers Hotchpot of Mutton is thus made. It is exceeding good of fresh Beef also, for those whose stomachs can digest it. Cut a neck of Mutton, crag-end and all into steaks (which you may beat if you will; but they will be very tender without beating) and in the mean time prepare your water to boil in a Posnet, (which must be of a convenient bigness to have water enough o cover the meat, and serve all the stewing, it, without need to add any more to it and yet no superfluous water at last. Put your meat into the boiling water, and when you have scummed it clean, put into it a good handful of Parsley, and as much of Sibboulets (young Onion, or Sives) chopped small, if you like to eat them in substance; otherwise tied up in a bouquet, to throw them away, when the have communicated to the water all their taste; some Pepper, three or four Cloves, and a little Salt, and half a Limon first pared. These must stew or boil simperingly, (covered) at least three or four hours (a good deal more, if Beef) stirring it often, that it burns not too. A good hour before you intend to take it off, put some quartered Turnips to it, or if you like them, some Carrots. A while after take a good lump of Household bread, bigger than your fist, crust and crum, broil it upon a Gridiron, that it be thoroughly toasted; scrape off the black burning on the out-side; then soak it thoroughly in Vinegar, and put this lump of tost into your Posnet to stew with it, which before you serve it up, melt a good lump of Butter (as much as a great egg) till it grow red; then take it from the fire, and put to it a little fine flower to thicken it (about a couple of spoonfulls) like thick pap. Stir them very well together; then set them on the fire again, till it grow red, stirring it all the while; then put to it a ladle-ful of the liquor of the pot, and let them stew a while together to incorporate, stirring it always. Then pour this to the whole substance in the Posnet to incorporate with the liquor, and so let them stew a while together. Then pour it out of the Posnet into your dish, meat and all; for it will be so tender, it will not endure taking up piece by piece with your hand. If you find the taste not quick enough, put into this juyce of the half Limon you reserved. For I should have said, that when you put in the herbs, you squeese in also the juyce of half a Limon (pared fro the yellow rind, which else would make it bitter) and the pared an squeesed (half the substance) into it afterwards. The last things (of Butter, Bread, Flower) cause the liaison and thickening of the liquor. If this should not be enough, you may also put a little gravy of mutton into it stirring it well when it is in, lest it curdle in stewing; or you may put the yolk of an egg or two to your liasion, of Butter, Flower and a ladleful of Broth. For gravy of mutton, Rost a juycy leg o Mutton three quarter. Then gash it in several places, and press out the juyce by a screw-press.

p. 118 Thousand Eggs, Volume 1 (Harleian MS 279)
p. 202 Thousand Eggs, Volume 2 (Harleian MS 4016)
Cindy Renfrow. Take a Thousand Eggs or More: A Collection of 15th Century Recipes. Copyright 1990.

Pleyn Delit #73 (Harleian 4016)
Constance B. Hiett, Brenda Hosington and Sharon Butler. Pleyn Delit: Medieval Cookery for Modern Cooks. Second Edition. Copyright 1996. Published by University of Toronto Press.

p. 89 Medieval Cookbook (Harleian 4016)
Maggie Black. The Medieval Cookbook. 1992: Thames and Hudson, Inc.

p. 6 (Murrell) and 8 (To stue Beefe) Ruth Anne Beebe. Sallets, Humbles & Shrewsbery Cakes: A Collection of Elizabethan Recipes Adapted for the Modern Kitchen. 1976: David R Godine, Publisher.
NOTE: Recipes coming from this book were taken from four cookbooks: The Good Huswife's Jewell (1596) The Good Huswife's Handmaide for the Kitchin (1594) The English Huswife (1615) Delightful Daily Exercise for ladies and gentlewomen (1621)

p. 68 Shakespeare (Murrell)
Madge Lorwin. Dining With William Shakespeare. 1976: Atheneum.

Stefan's Florilegium Period stews and bruets. Potages. Recipes.
Stefan's Florilegium "Frankish Braised Beef - A Recipe from Anthimus' De obseruatione ciborum" by Lady Clotild of Soissons

Cariadoc's Miscellany (Harleian 279)

Boke of Gode Cookery (Harleian 279)

Boke of Gode Cookery (Harleian 4016)


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