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The August Shore Party

Foods from the Shore Party

Shore Party Anyone who frequented the Gunroom during August 1996 (or who has read the Patrick O'Brian Newsletter, Vol. 5, No. 1) is no doubt aware that on the 10th of that month the Testing Kitchen gave a somewhat peculiar dinner party. We had some large recipes to test - so large that neither our kitchens nor our fireplaces could accommodate them, and we were forced to move our operation to the beach. So large that we required considerable assistance in consuming the results; happily for us, Gunroom members, friends and neighbors rallied bravely to the cause.

Shore Party


Pickled Salmon
The Commodore
, p. 16

Pickled Tunny
The Ionian Mission
, p. 163

Clam Chowder
The Fortune of War
, p. 149

Roast Suckling Pig
The Commodore
, p. 270

A Roasted Lamb with a Pudding of Bright Yellow Rice in its Belly
The Ionian Mission
, p. 296

Assorted Puddings with Custard Sauce:
Jam Roly-Poly ~ Plum Duff ~ Seed Cake
Spotted Dog ~ Treacle-Dowdy ~ Treacle Pudding

Assorted Puddings
Assorted Puddings

(As an anti-scorbutic, we also served a 20th-century cole slaw, loosely connected in our minds with the cabbages of Desolation Island....)

Assorted wonderful beers, wines and rums were provided by those who attended, and also by one who didn't: Gerry Strey (a pint of stout with you, ma'am!) wasn't able to join us, alas, but she sent an extraordinary selection of local brews all the way from Madison, Wisconsin.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As the last vestiges of summer fade and our book deadline looms, we look back nostalgically on that golden day, felicitously sandwiched between two rainstorms; and by popular request we are posting a few pictures of the Shore Party to accompany our featured recipe from the event. (Thanks are due to Allan Janus, Michael Krugman, Ada Santiago Phelps, Lynn Steele, and Elaine Toscanini, for their photographic prowess.)

Anne Chotzinoff Grossman, Lisa Grossman Thomas
L-R: Anne Chotzinoff Grossman, Lisa Grossman Thomas

Donald Thomas, Allan Janus
L-R: Spitmaster Donald Thomas, Allan Janus

Toscanini, Michael Krugman
L-R: Walfredo Toscanini, Michael Krugman


"We had no plates or knives or forks (though we each had a tortoiseshell spoon) and dinner was not served quite in our way either, there being no removes, but dishes following one another separately, to the number of thirty-six, not counting the sweetmeats. Each came in to the sound of kettledrums, brought by black men who put them down on a monstrous fine gold salver nestling in an embroidered cushion in the middle of the table: then we a all reached out and took lumps with our fingers, unless it was very soft, when we used our spoons. One of the dishes was a roasted lamb with a pudding of bright yellow rice in its belly, and the Bey seized it by the legs, tearing it very neatly to pieces for us."—The Ionian Mission, p. 296

  • 1 lamb, about 20 pounds, skinned, decapitated,
    and eviscerated
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground lamb
  • 2 large onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 4 cups long-grain rice
  • 1 cup shelled pistachio nuts
  • 2 tablespoons coriander, coarsely ground
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric, plus extra for rubbing
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon rose water
  • 3 quarts stock
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • Wash the lamb inside and out, and wipe it dry.

  • Set the saffron to steep in the hot water.

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large heavy pot. Brown the ground lamb over high heat. Remove, drain, and set aside.

  • Lower heat slightly and saute the onions (adding more olive oil as necessary) until they are limp. Add the rice, stir, and cook over low heat until translucent.

  • Add 2 cups of the stock, stir, and cook until the stock is almost completely absorbed. Continue adding stock in this manner, 2 cups at a time, until about half the stock has been used.

  • Stir in the saffron mixture and the pistachios, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, and rose water.

  • Continue adding stock as above until all the stock has been used.

Spoon the rice
mixture into the belly.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Stir in the ground lamb, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Beat the eggs and stir them thoroughly into the rice mixture.

  • Rub the inside of the lamb with salt and pepper. Spoon the rice mixture into the belly. Sew up the cavity with strong cotton string.

    • Center and secure the lamb on the spit. Rub it all over with turmeric, and set it to roast before a clear fire. It will be medium rare after about 3-1/2 hours, or when it reaches an inside temperature of 140 degrees.

    • Serves 20.
    Pig, Lamb, Spitmaster Donald Thomas
    L-R: Pig, Lamb, Spitmaster Donald Thomas

    More pictures from the Shore Party...

    Copyright © 1996-2003 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.