To Force Cucumbers
This unusual recipe uses the cucumber in a way that is a clear departure from modern practice. In the eighteenth century, vegetables were generally cooked or pickled, as opposed to eaten raw. Here, the cucumber is stuffed, stewed and sliced, along with being stitched with thread. The result is quite pleasant.
Pare your Cucumbers, core out the Seed, and then force them with a light Force-meat, and stove them in Broth or Gravy. When they are tender, cut two in Slices, and let the other be whole; squeeze in a lemon, and serve them.
— “Adam’s Luxury and Eve’s Cookery”
- 3 medium cucumbers (about 8 inches long)
- 1 egg
- 1 ¼ cup bread crumbs
- 1/3 cup onions, finely minced
- 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley, thyme, basil and/or sage (choose any or all of these)
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. ground pepper
- 1 quart broth (chicken or beef)
- 2 Tbsp. melted butter
- 1 lemon, juiced
- Pare (or peel) your cucumbers with a vegetable peeler. Slice off about 1 to 1 ½ inches from one end of each cucumber. With a long, thin knife gently scoop out the seeds from the center of the cucumber. Discard the seeds and set the cucumbers aside on a plate.
- Prepare the forcemeat by combining the bread crumbs, onions, herbs, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix thoroughly. In another, smaller bowl whip the egg with a whisk. Add the broth and melted butter to the egg and whisk it thoroughly. Add the egg mixture to the crumb mixture and blend everything together very well.
- Using your finger, stuff the cucumbers with bits of forcemeat until they are filled to about a half inch from the top of the opening. Take a long needle and some thick thread and gently stitch on the end of the cucumber.
- Place the cucumbers in a stew pan and just cover them with broth. Cook over a medium to medium-high heat till they are soft but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Turn them at least once during the cooking process.
- Once cooked, take the cucumbers out and plate them. Snip and gently remove the threads. Leave the center cucumber whole, and slice the flanking two cucumbers into ¾ inch slices. This allows the forcemeat to show and accent the whole one. Squeeze lemon juice over all and serve.