Main Dishes

Beef-Steak Pie

We made this recently at the Reed Homestead in Townsend, MA and it was baked in a brick oven next to the fireplace. It is always challenging to bake in such an oven - no temperature dial to set the oven temperature. To heat the oven, you build a fire inside the oven. When the bricks are hot enough, rake out the coals, swab it down and you are ready to put in your dish.

Some early versions of Beef-Steak Pie put the whole steak inside the crust! A puff paste crust adds a lot to this dish, but it is time-consuming to make. Pepperidge Farm makes an excellent puff paste, which can be found in the freezer section of most grocery stores.

The Stow Minuteman recipe uses an ingredient not in common use today - mushroom catsup. 18th Century cookbooks contain many variations of catsups using such ingredients as oysters, anchovies, walnuts as well as mushrooms. Our favorite modern catsup was not developed until the 19th Century when American cooks experimented with our native vegetable: tomatoes. If you do not have mushroom catsup on your pantry shelf you can substitute Worcestershire sauce, which has a slightly different taste. Mushroom catsup is available to buy on the internet, where you can also find recipes to make your own.

Here are several variations of Beefsteak Pie from the 18th Century as well as our modern interpretation.


One of the first meals we tried and it is still frequently served. Great on a hot day when you would prefer not to be near a hot fire. You will recognize it more easily by its modern name of Chef's Salad.

Saffron Chicken Pot Pie

This tasty chicken dish is from a Pennsylvania-German recipe. Unlike the pot pie dish we are more familar with, this does not use a pie crust to top a meat dish but puts the cut up unbake crust into the stew itself.

At encampments, we like to combine steps, adding carrots or green beans (seems to go especially nice) to make it a one pot meal.  When you have to boil water to do the dishes and your dish pans are on the ground, this is a big savings on time and your back!


A Second way to make a White Fricasey

This recipe must have been popular since the cookbook gives 3 versions of it! It has been well received at our encampments.

Chicken Curry

Here is one of our favorite main courses for an encampment. It always hits the spot for hungry re-enactors at the end of a long, hot day of protecting our rights by fighting the red coats or entertaining the troops and visitors with the sounds of 18th century music! It is also interesting to see how international the colonial period recipes could be.