Slumgullion Stew – A Historical Mystery

Stew and the making of it has been going on for centuries.  Ancient Greeks (8th – 4th centuries BC) put ingredients into a stomach-like (paunch) of an animal and cooked it over an open fire.

Miriam Webster

slum·gul·lion    noun \ˈsləm-ˌgəl-yən, ˌsləm-ˈ\
Definition of SLUMGULLION
:  a meat stew
Origin of SLUMGULLION
perhaps from slum slime + English dialect gullion mud, cesspool

 

National Archaeological Museum in Athens

National Archaeological Museum in Athens

A variety of cultures lay clam to the name ‘Slumgullion’; English, Irish, Pirates, Pioneers and many more. Some folks have negative associations with it (Ancestral Dish?)‘Slumgullion’ denoted fish offal of any kind. It also has meant “the watery refuse, mixed with blood and oil, which drains from blubber.  Later, ‘slumgullion’ was the name for the muddy deposits at a mining sluice. And finally, it came to mean “a kind of watery hash or stew.

 

One of the earliest mentions of Slumgullion in literature comes from Mark Twain’s book “Roughing It” (1872) where it was a vile drink served at a roadside way station.

 

In 2013,  a visiting friend from the United Kingdom (Paul W.) described an ‘If It’s Stew’ that his mom makes. “Basically, if it’s in the refrigerator, it goes into the mix,” he said.

 

By all accounts, Slumgullion Stew falls into the category of a ‘clean-out-the-refrigerator,’ ‘everything-but-the-kitchen-sink’  type of meal.

 

I think that there is no reason that the dish cannot be delicious and delightful as long as the preparer has a good sense about flavor, texture and spice combinations.

 

 

slumgullion mystery

 

Redfern Slumgullion Stew

1 large onion, peeled & chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, peeled & chopped
1 medium sized yellow beet, peeled & chopped
1 large turnip, peeled & chopped
4 medium sized yellow potatoes, peeled & chopped
6 carrots, peeled & chopped
1 can tomato paste
4 slices bacon – cut into small bits
4 tblsp. olive oil
6 cups chicken broth
1 pkg. Saag’s Asiago Fennel Chicken Sausage – cut into bite sized slices
salt & pepper to taste

Start with olive oil and uncooked bacon bits in a pot. Heat on medium heat until bacon starts to release it’s fat. Add all peeled & chopped vegetables. Saute till lightly browned.

Add tomato paste and chicken broth. Simmer for several hours until vegetables are done.

About 20 minutes before serving, add sliced Asiago Fennel Chicken Sausage and salt & pepper.

Serve with Baking Powder Biscuits.

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Historical research for Slumgullion Stew came about as part of a fiction series that I wrote (Haylee and the Traveler’s Stone).

Haylee is an illustrated, paranormal, adventure. A young woman struggles to understand and control an unusual power that causes her to steal something that should never be stolen.

In Haylee The Traveler (book #3 of the trilogy) , the main character is suddenly transported to San Francisco in 1849 where she directed to find another Traveler who carries a stone with answers to some of her problems.

Excerpt:

Maybel and Song from the Bella Union on Portsmouth Square. [ Fictional characters from the book Haylee: The Traveler, by Lisa Redfern ]

Maybel and Song from the Bella Union on Portsmouth Square. [ Fictional characters from the book Haylee: The Traveler, by Lisa Redfern ]

Stepping into the dimly lit interior, Haylee was assaulted by the smell of cigar smoke and cheap perfume. Underneath those layers of smells was the cloying scent of unwashed bodies.

Maybel led them through the room, winding between gaming tables crowded with men. A few women served drinks, one woman led a man up a set of stairs, and several more leaned over the balustrade at the top, wearing…not much at all. Haylee’s cheeks flamed.

Focusing her attention away from those disturbing sights, she watched the layers of clothing sway back and forth over Maybel’s behind. Haylee thought that the dress must be hot, heavy, and uncomfortable. She was glad to be wearing men’s clothes.

People glanced curiously at Homer as he clomped along in the rear. Moving through a set of curtains, they were led into a small room with only a few tables, one of which was occupied by a tall, thin man in formal attire and a woman dressed similarly to Maybel. The hostess’s eyes met the other woman’s. An imperceptible nod communicated across the space between the two. Maybel seated Haylee and Homer farthest from the couple.

A hearty Slumgullion Stew with biscuits arrived. It smelled wonderful! Haylee would have liked nothing more than to shovel it down. But she noticed that the woman at the other table, although chatting and interacting with her partner, kept sending quick glances in their direction.  The woman looked familiar but Haylee could not place where she could have seen her before. It made her nervous.

Eating slowly, pausing to put spoons of thick broth to Homer’s lips, Haylee surreptitiously studied the other woman as well. Dressed in a ruffled, deep purple gown, dark hair swept up on her head revealed clear olive skin. Tendrils that escaped confinement snaked their way along her graceful neck.

Her table partner leaned in close to whisper in her ear. She laughed, placing her hand on his cheek. He moved his head down to nuzzle her neck. Letting her head fall back, her eyes met Haylee’s.

Haylee could feel the burn of embarrassment scorching her face.

The man stood, making a curt bow to the woman as he took his leave. “Until next time, Martina.”

 

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More about Slumgullion Stew – History & Culture

Grim to the last drop. – Word Dective

In the 1880s, “slumgullion” was apparently also used to mean the watery refuse from processing whale blubber as well as the muddy sludge created by mining operations. 

The late Eric Partridge, in his Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, sees the “slum” as being a variant on “slob.” A related word, “slubberdegullion,” meaning “a slobbering or dirty fellow.”

So the root sense of “slumgullion” appears to boil down to “unappetizing liquid concoction.”

The Lost Slumgullions of English – New York Times Opinion by Kate Manning

– Informative and entertaining piece about lost words in vernacular.

Slumgullion Fest – East Bay Express (Oakland, CA) – Pirate Food

 

 

A few more interesting Slumgullion recipes from Cooks.com

 

MOOSE SLUMGULLION
In large skillet or kettle
brown 1 1/2-2 pound mooseburger and
one large minced onion,
seasoned with a good sized slug of
garlic salt and
enough salt and pepper to suit.

When meat is nicely browned,
add a #2 1/2 can of tomatoes or tomato puree.

Simmer about an hour and add one package of previously cooked spaghetti or noodles. Season to taste and serve.

 

GRAMMA’S SLUMGULLION (TAMALE PIE)
Brown:
1 lg. lean ground beef, drain grease
Add:
1 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. chopped bell pepper
1 clove minced garlic

Cook 5 minutes – until onions are translucent.Add:
1 (16 oz.) can “Mexican” tomatoes
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (16 oz.) can cream style corn
1 (16 oz.) can pitted olives, drained
3/4 c. cornmeal
1 tsp. chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook for 5 minutes on low heat. Bake in casserole dish 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Top with grated Cheddar cheese and bake 5 minutes.
SLUMGULLION
Boil rice until tender, not mushy. Drain and shake-up fluffy.
In meantime, slowly fry plenty of bacon until crisp. Drain and crumble. Use fat to saute
finely sliced cabbage, onions, and celery until tender. Drain if necessary.
Make white sauce; add bacon to sauce and pour over combined rice and cabbage mixture. Stir thoroughly and add pepper – no salt.
SLUMGULLION
1 1/2 c. potatoes, sliced thin
1 1/2 c. cabbage, sliced thin
1 c. diced onion
1 1/2 c. flour
1 lg. egg
Salt & pepper
1/2 stick butter
1 qt. water

In large skillet, cook potatoes, cabbage, onion, salt and pepper over medium heat until tender. Add butter and cook until well-seasoned. Water may need to be added.In a small bowl, mix egg and flour with a fork. Drop onto boiling vegetables a forkful at a time. Cook about 10 minutes more. Serve hot.
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Grandpa’s Smoked Fish

1 heaping cup white sugarfishing in stream IMG_0564
1 heaping cup dark brown sugar
1 level cup salt
1 heaping teaspoon black pepper
1 heaping teaspoon garlic salt
Thoroughly mix above in a bowl.  Roll fish chunks in mix & place fish chunks in sun for 1/2 hour.  Smoke fish 12 hrs.  Fish will be done.
Dad said (Important – Save)  10-15-68
fish photo from ray
from ray 2-2
from ray 4-2
chris jeff
Jon Kevin Claire July 1987

Basic Fish – Grandma’s

Rinse fish, pat dry, place fish in heavy duty aluminum foil.
Place pats of butter below and on top of fish, salt & pepper, 
place thin garlic slices if desired, thin slices of lemon 
if desired, and thin slices of onion if you would like.  
Close foil and put on cookie sheet in 350 degree oven 
for 10 to 20 minutes depending on the size of the fish.  
*Can also be grilled. 
The fish will be flaky when done. 

IMG_0505






kids and fish
chris fish
jeff fish

Grandma’s Salmon Patties

2 eggs – beatsalmon
1/2 can tomato paste – beat with eggs
add moistened dried onions
approx 1 tsp. dill weed
add, few shakes soy sauce
1 jar drained salmon (from Christine)  *note: approx. 12 oz.
Mix
Add 1/2 cup  – enough Contadina seasoned bread crumbs so you can handle to make patties.   Fry.
  (Feb 1988)
Photo caption:  First day of Salmon Derby
From Ray 1-1