Johnny Mumbles Presents: Charles Dickens' Gruel (From Household Words, 1881)
Being my first attempt at gruel and wanting to produce a preparation of the highest quality, I investigated some alternate recipes before beginning. In doing so, I discovered the following:
Hooper, Mary. Cookery for Invalids: Persons of Delicate Digestion, and for Children. London: H.S. King, 1876.
Evidently, Mr. Dickens needs to learn about attribution.
Lancet, volume 1, 1853.
Obtaining the right groats was difficult, I really wanted to purchase the proper Robinson's Embden groats or even Robinson's patent groats, unfortunately neither are available. Instead I settled with McCann's whole grain oats.
Following the instructions exactly, 1 quart water, two ounces groats.
(Two ounces of McCann's is slightly more than 1/3 of a cup)
Gently boil and stir for four hours.
After one hour.
After 3 hours.
I added approximately one cup of water per hour to prevent scorching.
Lacking a "Hair sieve" I used a mesh sieve to isolate the gruel from the groat.
Be sure and use two spoons as per the instructions to avoid contaminating your gruel with groat.
Whisk until creamy.
Being a purist I ate my gruel without any accouterments, but I think that the addition of just about anything could improve the flavor tremendously.
5 Martin Chuzzelewit's for ease of recipe.
3 David Copperfield's for flavor.
With an overall score of:
6 Edwin Drood's.