Learn about this recipe from our historic foodways staff, then try it at home
Contrary to popular belief, the British ate salads. Usually, meat was the criteria for judging the quality of a meal, and perhaps the host and hostess. Nevertheless, salmagundy was one of those special dishes loved by all. This dish was a centerpiece at a fine table and had the status of the best roasted beef.
TAKE two or three Roman or Cabbage-Lettuce; and when you have wash’d them clean, swing them pretty dry in a Cloth; then beginning at the open End, cut them cross-ways, as fine as a good big Thread, and lay the Lettuce so cut about an Inch thick in the Bottom of a Dish: When you have thus garnish’d your Dish, take a couple of cold roasted Pullets or Chickens, and cut the Flesh of the Breasts and Wings into Slices about three Inches long, a quarter of an Inch broad, and as thin as a Shilling, lay them upon the Lettuce round the one End to the middle of the Dish, and the other toward the Brim: Then having bon’d and cut half a dozen Anchovies, each into eight Pieces, lay them all round betwixt each Slice of the Fowls; then cut the lean Meat of the Pullets or Chickens Legs into small Dice, and cut a Lemon into small Dice: Then mince the Yolks of four hard Eggs, with three or four Anchovies, and a little Parsley; and make a round Heap of these in the middle of your Dish, piling it up in the Form of a Sugar-loaf, and garnish it with small Onions as big as the Yolks of Eggs, boiled in a good deal of water, very tender and white; put the largest of the Onions on the middle of the minc’d Meat on the top of the Salamongundy, and lay the rest all round the Brim of the Dish, as thick as you can lay them; then beat some Sallad-Oil up with Vinegar, Salt, and Pepper, and pour over it all; garnish with Grapes just scalded, or French Beans blanched, or Station-Flowers, and serve it up hot for a first Course.
— Nott, Cooks and Confectioners Dictionary, Art. 35.
- 1 whole chicken, roasted
- 1 head red leaf lettuce
- 4 eggs, hard-boiled
- 1 head green leaf lettuce
- 2 small onions
- 2 2-oz. tins of flat anchovy fillets, partially drained
- 1 lemon
- 4 Tbsp. olive oil
- 8 slices of ham (6” round, medium thickness)
- 4 Tbsp. vinegar
- salt and pepper
- After chicken is roasted, separate meat from the bone. Coarsely chop, keeping the dark meat separate from the white meat.
- Shell hard-boiled eggs. Separate the yolks from the whites and mince each separately.
- Finely chop the onions and parsley, and dice the lemons. Keep separate.
- Cut ham slices into 1” squares.
- Wash and drain lettuces, separate leaves, and dry.
- On a large round plate, arrange your ingredients as follows, working from the outside into the center in rings: red lettuce leaves, green lettuce leaves, white chicken meat, anchovies, minced egg yolks, diced lemon, dark chicken meat, onions, ham pieces, parsley, and egg whites.
- In a small bowl, add oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper (to taste). Mix well and drizzle over entire salad. Serve.