I am looking at some recipes to try out when I finally get a day off next month. When I was researching ancient recipes last month I came across dozens of forcemeat receipts. There were no recipes in the ancient receipt books. Since I am no chef, I didn’t recognize the term ‘forcemeat‘.
Basically, forcemeats are very finely ground meats, eggs for binder, maybe some soaked bread, and savory spices. It is usually poached but is sometimes baked, and it is cooled in a form. I don’t think I have ever eaten a forcemeat, but the braunschweiger I just finished would be very close in texture.
Here is a recipe from Emeril Lagasse for a veal forcemeat. His is a gratin forcemeat, meaning the main flavor meat is cooked before grinding. The only special tool you need for this version is a food processor. You can grind meats for forcemeat using progressively smaller and smaller grinding disks, or you can use a food processor. This recipe is not cooked again, and there is no pork or pork fat in it.
It is far removed from the forcemeat receipts of days gone by. Here is how they did it in ancient times…they chopped the meats fine by hand…
85. Fish Force Meat Balls. Take a little uncooked fish, chop it fine, together with a little raw salt pork, mix it with one or two raw eggs, a few bread crumbs, and season the whole with pepper and spices. Add a little catsup if you like—do them up into small balls and fry them.
Anonymous. The American Housewife / Containing the Most Valuable and Original Receipts in all / the Various Branches of Cookery; and Written in a Minute / and Methodical Manner (Kindle Locations 934-936).
If you want to put your forcemeat into collagen casings like a sausage, that is common. This recipe is from Europe, where they still remember how to make interesting foods…
This is the quickest forcemeat to make. It is typically used for lean, light meats or fish. Usually only one variety of meat is used (although mixtures work well) and unwhipped heavy cream is used as the source of fat. The cream is used to adjust the consistency as required by the type of meat or fish used. This forcemeat is quite stable during cooking since the fat is already emulsified in the cream. The area of caution comes in making sure you don’t overwork the forcemeat in the food processor once the cream has been added.
- 1 lb/454 g lean white meat or fish
- 1 tsp/5 mL kosher salt
- 1 large egg (per 1 lb/454 g meat)
- Seasonings, as needed
- 1 cup/240 mL heavy cream (approx.)
1. Cube the meat or fish. Chill.
2. Grind through a chilled grinder using a coarse plate (3/8 in/9 mm), then a medium plate (1/4 in/6 mm). Chill.
3. Combine the chilled ground meat mixture with the salt, egg(s), and seasonings. Purée in a food processor until smooth.
4. Add the cream slowly and pulse in. An alternative way to do this is to remove the mixture from the food processor and place it in a mixing bowl over an ice bath, slowly working the cream into the meat with a rubber spatula or spoon.
5. Test the mixture for seasoning and consistency; adjust as necessary.
6. Use for the desired preparations.
Fat contributes greatly to the eating quality of forcemeats. It enhances the flavor and the juiciness. Pork fat is preferred because it is softer, it melts at lower temperature, and it is easier to chop or grind, and the preferred pork fat is jowl fat. Fatback is used for forcemeal for terrines, galantines, and pâtés; jowl fat is used predominantly for sausage making. U.S. government regulations limit cooked sausage to 30 percent fat.
Water, in the form of ice, is used to regulate heat generated by machine friction. This helps keep meat and fat from warming excessively during processing.
Salt makes proteins soluble; that is, it draws the water-soluble protein, myosin, from meat to act as the primary binder. In addition, it adds flavor and retards the growth of bacteria. (See “Preserving with Salt,” page 73 of the book.)
The formula for mousseline forcemeat is 1 lb/454 g lean white meat or seafood, 1 tsp/5 mL kosher salt, 1 large egg (or egg white for mild-flavored products like fillet of sole or flounder), 1 cup/240 mL heavy cream, and ground pepper as needed.
Slowly add the cream to the mixture and continue processing.
A mousseline should be pressed through a tamis to ensure that it is completely smooth.
To blend the mousseline properly, it is vital to scrape down the bowl periodically as you process.
I am not sure of what kind I will make, but this summer will be the summer of sausages at my house. I have all of the tools and raw materials to make everything from pepperoni to forcemeat…and I will. If a person is going to eat mostly meat, they have to have a good assortment of receipts in their arsenal. I will experiment and report back.