Original Irish Ingredients
During the Great Famine or “An Gorta Mor” (1845-1852) much of Ireland’s healthy livestock perished. In fact, due to starvation and immigration, the population of Ireland itself dropped from 10 million in 1840 to 5 million in 1880! When families did have access to good meat, they needed to make it “go far” especially in large Irish families with lots of children to feed. Irish wives would usually add their stale bread and crusts to the meat, to “make ends meet, ” making it seem like there was more meat than there really was. They would save the scarce fresh bread for their actual meal. Everyone knows that edible potatoes were very scarce, but good onions were also hard to find, due to the potato blight which also damaged turnips. A pinch of sugar was used to offset the often very strong taste of so-so onions. (Here are some great onion choppers for you!)
In the Brooklyn areas of Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights, the Columbia Street waterfront and the Red Hook docks by the mouth of New York Harbor across from the Statue of Liberty, meatcakes were an especially popular staple. Many an Irishman would come home from a day tunneling to build the Brooklyn Bridge, or working as policemen or firemen (there were many fires in early New York and Brooklyn), to a traditional Irish dinner of meatcakes, a baked potato and freshly-shelled peas. Many Irish American wives and mothers still proudly serve meatcakes today, remembering their grandmothers making them for dinner in their own kitchens.
Traditional Irish Recipe
*Heat 1/4 stick butter in sauce pan, frying pan, or electric wok
*Combine 1 lb. lean ground beef (grind with your meat grinder), 1 egg, 3/4 cup chopped onions (with the best food chopper) .
*Add 1 and 1/2 cup torn bread into a mixture.
*Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1 teaspoon sugar. (Check out our recommended salt and pepper grinder sets!)
*Shape into 6 partially flattened meatballs.
*Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes, compressing gently with a spatula.
*Be sure inside of meatcake is cooked thoroughly.
*Remove from pan. Drain on paper towel.
*Serve with baked potatoes, green peas and ketchup to taste.
Besides being extremely economical, ’tis a grand family meal!
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