(Historical Cooking) General Casey’s Stew

Major General Silas Casey (1807-1882) [public domain]

It’s been a little while since I last got the chance, but something I’m very fond of is replicating historical recipes. Ages ago, I played with recipes from the Roman Apicius cookbook, then tried my hand at late Sengoku and early Edo period Japanese sweets, and I’ve been wanting to try something new for awhile. So I’m really excited to note that today, my partner and I are making General Casey’s Stew.

General Silas Casey was a career US Army soldier who commanded a division of IV Corps Army of the Potomac, under Erasmus D. Keyes. He was also an educator of new soldiers, and published the training manual Infantry Tactics in 1862, which you can read online here. Understanding that most of his soldiers likely came to the Army with little understanding of how to cook, but were issued cooking equipment and rations as if they knew how to cook, and seeing that they needed some understanding in order to get the nutrition they needed, he created this recipe for stew.

  • One pound of stew beef, cut up.
  • Quarter pound of pork
  • One onion, sliced up
  • Two potatoes, cut up
  • One pound of dehydrated vegetables, soaked
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Enough water to cover

Casey says to cook it for 3 hours, and while 3 hours in a crockpot on HIGH setting isn’t the same as a campfire, it’ll do. We used frozen vegetables (peppers, onions, cauliflower, broccoli), sliced ham, and steak bits for ours. Also an adaptation, yes, but remember, even in the Civil War, one had to adapt and use what was at hand!

Our attempt at General Casey’s Stew

How is it? Pretty good! I had mine with some hardtack we made awhile ago. Plus, this much stew will make for good leftovers for a few days!

What’s your preferred historic recipe- or, is there a historic recipe you’d like to see me try? Let me know in the comments!

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