A Selection of Recipes of the Type Eaten in Irish Country Houses


Strawberry Toast (early Victorian era)

Cut slices of bread (rolls are best) not too thin. Melt some fresh butter in a saucepan and dip these slices into it, then shake them so as to have as little butter as possible left in them. Take some bruised wood strawberries mixed with sugar and spread the slices rather thickly with them. Sugar the whole slightly with white sugar. Put them into a frying pan on the fire until the toast is quite crisp. Let this be done as quickly as possible so as not to spoil the freshness of the fruit – this is very important.



Recipe to Give Apples the Flavour of Pineapples

Put the apples in a deal box with dried elder flowers.



Chicken à la Tartare

This dish was extremely popular on Irish Country House menus, appearing often on Abbeyleix menu book of 1800-1805 and also in a handwritten recipe book belonging to Viscountess de Vesci (dated 1839). The version given here is from 1935 but the basic method is the same. The Abbeyleix recipe recommends that the leg bones should be broken and the chicken flattened with the back of a knife. Instead of cooking with vegetables, the chicken was seasoned with salt and pepper, bread-crumbed, broiled on a stew pan, and ‘sent up’ with Brown Italian sauce. 



1 broiling chicken

1/4 lb melted butter

4 sprigs parsley

1 small onion

1/4 lb mushrooms

1 clove garlic

salt & pepper

bread crumbs



Clean the chicken and split it in half, removing the backbone and breastbone. Place it in a frying pan in which the butter has been melted. Chop the parsley, onion, mushrooms and garlic and add them to the butter with salt and pepper. Cover the frying pan and allow the broiler to simmer for 15 minutes, turning it occasionally so that the flavour is absorbed. The chicken is then dipped in bread crumbs and broiled until well browned. The chicken meat is delicately flavoured with the mushrooms, onions, garlic, and parsley combination. The pre-cooking in the butter sauce also assures the tenderness of the meat.



Anchovies with Parmesan Cheese (Victorian Era)

‘Anchovy cheese’ was a popular Victorian dish served as an appetiser or as a side dish for a second course. First some long pieces of bread were fried in oil or butter, then half an anchovy fillet was then placed on top of each piece and sprinkled with finely grated parmesan cheese. The anchovies were then browned in an oven. They were piled up on a platter and squeezed with lemon or orange juice before being sent to the table.



Victorian Orange Cake


5 eggs

2 cups of sugar

1½ cup of butter

2½ cups of flour

2 teaspoonfuls of baking powder

grated rind and juice of 1 orange



Beat the whites of three and the yolks of five eggs separately. Stir to a cream two cups of sugar and one-half cup of butter, then add beaten eggs, one-half cup of cold water, two and a half cups of flour, two teaspoonfuls of baking powder, the grated rind of one orange and all the juice, except one tablespoonful. Bake in two large square biscuit pans.


Filling for orange cake:

Whites of two eggs saved from the cake, one tablespoonful of orange juice, two small cups of pulverized sugar.


For further Victorian cake recipes click here



Soyer’s Poor Man’s Soup (1847)

The following recipe for soup for the starving poor was created by the famous chef, Alexis Soyer, and was widely copied for Irish soup kitchens during the Great Famine. Soyer’s recommendation that the peelings and ends of vegetables be used was based on his opinion that these held the most flavour. Spices were omitted as Soyer argued that they flatter the appetite making the stomach crave more food.



2 oz dripping

4 oz of leg of beef cut into 1in dice

4 oz onions, thinly sliced

4 oz turnips, cut into small dice (‘the peel will do’)

2 oz leeks, thinly sliced (‘the green tops will do’)

3 oz celery leaves

12 oz wholemeal flour

8 oz pearl barley

3 oz salt

¼ oz brown sugar

2 gal (9l of water)



Heat the dripping in a large saucepan (capable of holding 2 gallons of water) over a coal fire, then add the cubes of beef and thinly sliced onions, stirring with a wooden spoon until fried light brown. Add the peelings of two turnips, fifteen green leaves or tops of celery, and the green part of two leeks (all of which will have been cut into small pieces). Stir this over the fire for ten minutes then add one quart of cold water and the flour and pearl barley. When this is well mixed, add seven quarts of hot water, seasoned with salt and brown sugar. Stir occasionally until boiling and then simmer gently for three hours. 



A Tasty Breakfast Dish, 1911 (Leinster Express)

Place a number of soft herring-roes in a good oven to bake for five minutes and prepare some rounds of toast. Remove the roes and mash them up with butter, pepper and salt. Spread the rounds of toast thickly and place a poached egg upon each.



To Pickle Hams and Tongues, 1911 (Leinster Express)

Take any quantity of water you choose and make it into a strong brine with common salt and bay salt. Then to every half gallon of this pickle add a half pound of salt petre, a half pound of brown sugar and a half pound of treacle. Put it into a stew-pan and when it comes to the boil skim it and allow it to get quite cold, then put in your hams or tongues. Turn the hams twice a day for a month, the tongues for three weeks, then hang up to dry.



Food News, August 1911 (Leinster Express)

“Sandwiches made of finely-chopped violets spread over thin slices of buttered bread are being sold in many New York restaurants.”



Kummel (Drink Recipe from 1910-20)

1 pint of dry gin

¼ of crushed sugar candy

½ of caraway seed


Add the crushed sugar and caraway seeds to the gin, cork the bottle tightly and store it for three months. After that time, strain the liquid, rebottle it, cork it securely and lay it down for two years before drinking.



Orange Gin

6 Seville oranges

3 lemons

1 gallon gin

Cane sugar


Make as with kummel.