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A Sampler of Plymouth Colony Recipes

Red Pickled Eggs

Adapted from Eating the Plates by Lucille Recht Penner Sometimes picked eggs were colored with beet or spinach juice and sliced onto a dish of salad.

6 eggs

1 small red beet

1 cup white vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon red pepper (cayenne)

1 cup water

1. Put the eggs in a heavy 1 1/2–quart saucepan. Add enough cold water to more than cover the eggs. Bring

water to boil, and as soon as eggs boil vigorously, time them for 11 minutes. Drain, cool, and peel eggs.

2. Wash the beet. Cut off the top and part of the stem, leaving one inch of steam. Set aside.

3. Combine the vinegar, salt, black pepper, red pepper, and one cup of water. Bring to a boil.

4. Put the peeled eggs and the beet in a one-quart glass jar. Pour the boiling vinegar mixture over them.

Cool. Stir gently. Cover the jar and refrigerate overnight.

5. In the morning, the eggs will be pink. Remove the beet. The eggs will be ready to eat.

A Boiled "Sallet" (Salad) of Spinach

From The English Huswife, 1623

3 pounds fresh spinach, well washed, stemmed, and chopped (do not dry)

3 tablespoons butter 1/3 cup dried currants or raisins

2 tablespoons cider vinegar or red wine vinegar 1–2 tablespoons sugar Salt to taste

Pile the washed spinach in a large pot over medium heat, moving it about until it is wilted and considerably reduced in volume, 3 to 5 minutes. Press the spinach against the side of the pot, then drain off any excess water from the bottom, and add the butter, currants, vinegar, sugar and salt. Continue cooking briefly, tossing the spinach to coat it with the sauce. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl to serve.

Wampanoag Corn Soup with Meat

From The Plimoth Plantation New England Cookery Book by Malabar Hornblower This recipe is based on the many descriptions of whole corn soups or stews found in historic accounts. The meat can be added either to the cold water at the beginning, to provide a strongr broth, or to the simmering broth towards the end of cooking, for more flavorful meat.

2 pounds lamb or venison shanks or a 2 1/2 pound chicken, cut into pieces

2 cups (about 6 oz) 1/2-inch cubed butternut or other winter squash 1/2 cup small white pearl onions

1 quart water (or more if necessary) 3/4 cup walnuts

1 (16 oz) can whole hominy

1 (16 oz) can red kindey beans 1/4 cup chopped cranberries

1. Cut the meat from the bones. Cut the meat into 1-inch chunks. Put the meat, bones, squash and onions

into the cold water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 1/2 hour.

2. Grind the walnuts to a powder in a blender or food processor. Add the ground walnuts, hominy, beans

and cranberries to the soup. Simmer 1 hour.

Stewed Pompion: A 17th Century Colonial Recipe

From "This is a delicious recipe for pumpkin. It is adapted from one of the earliest written recipes from New England. The English people in the 1600's called all pumpkins and squash “pompions.” The recipe is in a book written by John Josselyn who traveled to New England in the 1600's. (John Josselyn, Two Voyages to New England.) "John Josselyn called this recipe a “standing dish.” That means that this sort of pumpkin dish was eaten every day or even at every meal. He also called it “ancient” because English housewives had cooked this recipe in New England for a long time."

A Dish of Stewed Pompion

4 cups of cooked squash, roughly mashed

3 tablespoons butter

2 to 3 teaspoons cider vinegar

1 or 2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

In a saucepan over medium heat, stir and heat all the ingredients together. Adjust seasonings to taste, and serve hot.

A Pottage of Indian Corn

From Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving Recipes and History, from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie by Kathleen Curtin, Sandra L. Oliver, and the Plimoth Plantation

"Dishes like this one were common fare for 17th century Englishmen in both Old and New England. An English pottage was typically made with meat broth, oats, and chopped "pot herbs" boiled in a thick "spoonmeat." In England, everyone from the richest to the poorest ate pottage. In New England, this tradition continued, but the native corn was used in place of the traditional English oats. Pottage was probably served at some point during the harvest meals in 1621; the following spring, an ailing Massasoit asked a colonist to "make him some English pottage, such as he had eaten at Plymouth." "Like our familiar soup recipes, pottages are ideally suited to turning leftover meat or bones into delicious dishes. It is not a great leap to imagine Plymouth colony cooks efficiently and economically converting all of those leftover duck and deer bones into savory pottages to feed the many diners during the several days of the 1621 harvest celebration."

Serves 6 as a main dish, 8 to 10 as a side dish


cups broth, with or without leftover meat pieces


cups coarse grits


cup chopped onions or leeks

1/2 cup chopped parsley

4 cups coarsely chopped spinach, chard, or other leafy green Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste Minced fresh herbs (thyme, marjoram, and/or sage) to taste

1. Bring broth to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Stir in the grits, onions, parsley, spinach, salt, pepper, and herbs; continue until the pottage returns to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Be sure to stir across the bottom of the pot to keep the grits from sticking. 2. Remove the pot from the heat and allow to stand covered for about 1 hour, or until the grits are tender. You may need to add more water if the pottage is too thick (it should have the consistency of risotto or thick cooked oatmeal). Adjust seasonings before serving.

Seethed Mussels with Parsley and Vinegar

From Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving Recipes and History, from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie by Kathleen Curtin, Sandra L. Oliver, and the Plimoth Plantation

"…mussels were defnitely part of the colonists' diet.… They were bundant and easily gathered. It is possible that a dish of mussels was served during the 1621 harvest celebration."

Serves 8


pounds mussels


tablespoons butter

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup red wine vinegar 3/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

Place the mussels in cold water and scrub them clean. Beard them by taking off the tuft of fibers projecting from the shell (if there are any—many farm-raised mussels are beardless). Discard any mussels that are broken or do not close when touched.)

Place 1 cup water and the butter, parsley, vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic in a large pot, cover, and bring to a boil over high hear. Add the mussels and reduce the heat so the mussels cook at a simmer. Cook, shaking the pot occasionally, for 10 minutes or until all of the mussels have opened fully. Keep an eye on the mussels—if cooked too long, they can be chewy. Discard any mussels that have not opened.

To serve, pour the mussels and the broth into bowls. Set an empty bowl on the table for discarded shells.

Hot Indian Pudding

Adapted from Eating the Plates by Lucille Recht Penner

3 cups milk

1/2 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal


tablespoon unsalted butter



1/2 cup molasses 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup milk, colds

1. Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Grease a 1 1/2 quart soufflé mold or baking dish with 1 tablespoon butter;

set aside.

2. Fill the bottom of a double boiler with water. Bring to a boil.

3. While the water is coming to a boil, pour 3 cups of milk into the top of the double boiler. Place it on a

burner and cook the milk over medium heat until bubbles form around the edges.

4. Stir the cornmeal into the bubbling milk. Keep stirring until mixture is smooth. Remove it from the heat.

5. Put the top of the double boiler over the bottom. Cook, stirring often, over medium heat, unti lthe

cornmeal mixture thickens slightly (about 15 minutes).

6. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, eggs, molasses, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Pour into

the buttered mold or dish.

7. Place in the preheated oen and bake for 30 mnutes. Pour the 1 cup cold milk over the pudding and return

to the oven. Cook for 1 hour 30 minutes to 1 hour 45 miutes more or until the top is brown and crisp. Serve hot with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Bring any dinner item you’d like to the potluck, whether it's one of the recipes above or just a dish your family enjoys. If you'd like to bring a dish that includes ingredients associated with the Pilgrims, below are foods the Pilgrims ate.

Mayflower foods: Rabbits, geese, chickens (for eggs only), ducks, salt- packed pork, salt-packed beef, dried ox tongues, turnips, parsnips, onions, cabbages, spices (ginger, cinnamon, mace, cloves, nutmeg, green ginger), moldy cheese, dried peas, salty beef, dried salted codfish, smoked herring, sburgoo (hot oatmeal with molasses), plum duff (fatty pudding with raisins or prunes mixed in), and huge piles of hard-as-rock ship's biscuits. A few pigs and goats were brought but not eaten, to start herds in America.

1620 Arrival foods: anything left from the boat (which was not much)

plus venison, turkey, ducks, geese, seals, dried Indian corn (they found a storage pit kept by the Wampanoags), mussels, clams, herring (caught by the Wampanoags), walnuts, and (before the cold set in) lots of wild grapes, plums, herbs, watercress, leeks, onions, and berries.

1621 Harvest Celebration foods: venison, ducks, geese, turkeys,

chestnuts, cranberries (not yet cooked with sugar), pumpkins (called pompions), carrots, parsnips, fennel, red chard, collards, cabbage, turnips, squash, spinach, corn, herbs (parsley, thyme, marjoram, hysop, sage), wild grapes, wild berries, eels, clams, mussels, oysters, onions, wild garlic, wild leeks, watercress, Jerusalem artichokes.

Plymouth Colony cuisine: all of the above plus, sweet potatoes, beets, cucumbers, endive, lettuce, sea salt, lobster, eels, cod, bluefish, bass (fish were caught when new settlers brought the right size fish hooks), bear, moose, elk, rabbit, eggs, barley, rye, apples, pears, peaches and (brought by new settlers) sheep, cows, bulls, dried fruits and more pigs and goats. They also got new supplies of spices, molasses and sugar when they began to trade salted fish, pickled beef, and lumber with settlers in the West Indies.