In the first place take a pot that is going to be large enough to hold enough of the stew to at least serve each of the participants twice, for I have found that as a rule they come back for the second helping. For instance, if you are going to serve thirty people, I should take one and one-half pounds of fat pig pork, salted; after cleaning and scraping thoroughly, cut it into very thin slices, the thinner the better. Then take a knuckle of veal with a few of the short ribs, fat enough to make an addition to the knuckle of a least a pound of the veal. One and one-half pounds or so of mutton, not lamb, but mutton, and I always preferred the brisket or the rib piece. One and one-half pounds lean beef cut into small squares, say not over one inch square. The veal and the mutton also want to be cut up. One fowl, weighing four or five pounds, and cut it up into eight or nine pieces. Disjoint it. Above all things, do not break a bone, that is, take off the drum-sticks at the joint, and the second joint at the hip joint, remove each wing, then break the back bone into two pieces and leave the breast whole. If you have not the fowl, two spring chickens are even better. Never put a rabbit in the stew, but a partridge or a nice young squirrel, or a small piece of venison would be a welcome addition. So much for the meat portion. If you have fresh parsnips, clean and slice about four medium sized ones, that would be sufficient. Potatoes are the main single ingredient, and after they are quartered or sliced, not too fine, you should have at least three quarts of them. Six or eight carrots, sliced onions sufficient to fill a two-quart basin; one-half dozen raw tomatoes if in season, or one quart can of same; one quart can of corn, or half a dozen ears scraped from the cob, if in season; two handfuls of lima beans, one pint shelled peas, or the canned article will do. If you have some of the old fashioned yellow rutabagas, peel and slice about four. Cut up fine one-half head of cabbage, a fair supply of the green gumbo, or failing in that, at least a pint of the canned. Now you are ready to begin work.
First, Sprinkle the bottom of the kettle with the sliced potatoes, then put in a layer of salt pork, then some one of the other vegetables alternating with the meat, duly seasoning each two or three courses as follows: Be sure to get plenty of pepper in, I usually take six or eight little red peppers and one handful of pepper-corn, and in addition to this grind a few of the pepper-corns. If you have one or two old fashioned bell peppers that have gone to seed, put them in whole, but plenty of pepper is essential. Of course, it must be salted, but you can always add salt but not take it out, so be careful about putting in too much salt.
Have a kettle that is large enough so that when all of these ingredients are put in, that not to exceed two-thirds of its capacity has been filled. Then put in pure, cold water, sufficient to cover all two, two or three inches.
Now put it on the stove and as it comes to a boil, put it on the back of the stove so it will only simmer; above all things do not let it boil hard, but it should be kept bubbling and sputtering away just to about a boil, practically, for fully two and one-half hours. It would be good for nothing if it is any less than this. It is better if it cooks four or five in this same way. Leave the cover off the pot so it will evaporate some, occasionally skimming it.
Serve it as a soup or soup-course, and you will find that if it comes on the table hot and all right that your guests will want very little else for Dinner, and it is perfectly admissible to come back, like Oliver Twist, for more. - Wm. B. Mershon, Saginaw, Mich.