NEWFOUNDLAND BOILED DINNER - JIGG'S DINNER
HISTORY'S PART IN THE EVOLVING OF NEWFOUNDLAND BOILED DINNER
To understand why it is called"Newfoundland Boiled Dinner" and or Jigg's Dinner you need to know a bit of history.
Starting as early as the first people to land on Newfoundland and Labrador, they found the sea teaming with fishes. This was the seafood breadbasket for the British Isles and Europe. Britain had a problem with what to do with criminals and the like, so she often sent the rowdy ones off on a ship to exile in this new land. Some others came for the adventure as well, and still others came to make a fortune in the seafood, and supplying the coastal fishermen with needed supplies. Of course, there was no electricity along the coastal villages from St. John's all the way up to Labrador. It had not been invented yet. This meant there was no refrigeration of any kind, and all perishable foods were packed in salt. This included, barrels full of salt pork, barrels full of salt beef (the poorest cuts of beef in salt brine), barrels full of salt fish. Fresh fish caught by the sailing ships were salted down into the hold. Fresh fish caught by the shore fishery were salted and dried in the sun on wooden racks called "flakes"held several feet above ground to keep the insects out.The children waved a long handled wand over the flakes of drying fishes to keep flies off the cod until it dried enough so flies would go elsewhere. Everyone who was able had work to do during cod fishing season.In other words, every bit of meat was salted down to keep it from spoiling. The supplies ships from St. Johns would pick up the dried cod in exchange for supplies and leave more salt and food supplies. Enough supplies for everyone until the next trip was left at each coastal fishing village. Everyone traded supplies until they had some of each as required for the winter, or until next supply ship arrived.
The shore fishermen went out daily in their dore boats and fished with line and sinker for the cod. A bit of bait on the hook lowered overboard to the bottom would have a cod on it just as fast as it got there. The line was tied off so that it left the bait just off the bottom and was held in the hand and raised up and down until it felt heavy. The line was then pulled over the edge of the dore and you could tell by the weight of the pull if a cod was on or not, and continue to pull until the cod was on board. Holding tightly onto the sinker hook and a quick downward flick and the cod was in the holding box, checked for bait,(usually still some on) and over the edge it goes to the bottom again. another line is grabbed, pulled to see if a cod is on and up he comes just as fast.Many times the dore boats were filled to capacity when the cod fishermen returned to shore. This method of fishing is called Cod Jigging. and many of those who fished got the nickname jiggs. This is the most obvious reason that the dinner is called Jigg's Dinner and could, indeed, be the very source of this name.
Boiled dinner using the salt beef was a way of life from the first settlement on Newfoundland, and still is today. In each village along the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador you will find that the cooks all used basically the same recipe but with small differences in the meal. Some added a cheesecloth bag of dried green split peas. This makes Peas Porridge from the juices in the boiling pot. This is where the English song Peas Porridge Hot, Peas Porridge Cold, Peas Porridge in a pot nine days old, comes into the picture. Other cooks add a 'Figgy Duff' which is like a Christmas pudding and used as a desert for the meal. Still others have variations of the dumplings. Some with pieces of apple added, some with raisins added and on goes the variations. Some do not make dumplings, but ad dough balls of about the size of a golf ball or less at the same time as pot is put on to boil. Dough balls become, 'gooy' , 'chewy' , ' juicy' morsels and are quite good. Each cook has her favorite meal that she prepares. So experiment and try all of these, you will not be sorry when it comes to the eating.
Cookbooks of Newfoundland Recipes available from Amazon
SALT, SALT, AND MORE SALT.
One of the main supplies delivered by the supply ships at coastal villages was many many barrels of salt. They needed this for the drying of salt cod. If they had any animals to kill for meat, they needed the salt to pack the meat in to keep it from rotting. They also canned this meat when they had jars to do so.
Where there was any garden soil, these coastal fishermen, grew onions, turnips, carrots, potatoes and cabbage. If they did not have enough, they had to buy barrels full of potatoes, salt beef, salt pork, turnips, carrots, Cabbages, onions and occasionally apples or wooden cases of celery from Jamaica and Florida. They paid for all of this with dried salt cod. If the fishing was not so good, they had to run a tab for supplies.
The merchants in St John's got rich, and the coastal fishermen barely survived at the controlling hand of these supply ships owned by those merchants. The salt meant they could preserve the cod, goat meat, beef, or pork and merchants could control this salt supply to the coastal fishermen, thus limiting their ability to improve their economic status.
Veggies Ready for Jigg's Dinner Tonight- Pail of Cured salt beef on right
Salt beef washed 2 pieces, and 3 chicken leg and thigh skinned and fat removed ready to be browned
How salt beef became the base for Jig's Dinner
Out of all of this hard living, came a complete range of food recipes that used the salted meats. The only time they might have fresh was when the fishermen first came home, or when an animal was killed for meat. The rest had to be salted down so it would keep without spoiling. When it was time to eat the salt meats, they had to be soaked to get most of the salt out of it. In picture with small 4 lb pail with picture of Newfoundland on the side, they call it "Cured Naval Beef". This meat in salt brine is the worst cuts with bone and fat rib portions etc included. No steaks or roast meat included here,(all extremely salty until washed).
Newfoundland Boiled Dinner is one of these traditional recipes using just what they had from the garden and beef packed away in salt brine. Cabbage. turniip, carrots, onions and potatoes were main garden grown vegetables or had to be bought from the merchant supply ships. One of the biggest reasons that the people of Newfoundland are so generous and friendly is because of food items they needed. If you had two barrels of turnips and Jiggy Dan has none but lots of cabbage, they exchanged this or just gave it to their neighbour. Everyone helped look after his neighbour and was helped in return when the need arose. God Bless these people. This is the way we all should live, for others and not for self.
Vegetables in chunks and herbs cut up ready for boiling pot
Meat and Vegetables packed in pot ready to add hot water to cover all
Dinner is Ready, Come and get It.
So You have been patient so here it is - The recipe for Newfoundland Boiled Dinner
NEWFOUNDLAND BOILED DINNER
Authentic recipe used by Lloyd's family from Clarenville and extended family at Botwood and anywhere in between on the east shores of Newfoundland and passed on to me by Lloyd's wife Dot. Lloyd was also a very good cook as is his wife.
Also known as " JIGG'S DINNER"
The following are traditional "Jigg's dinner" ingredients.
1 to 3 pieces of Navel Beef (you can buy a pail of 1-2 Kg in salt brine)
(wash this well under the tap to get the salt out of it or your dinner will be too salty) CAUTION: Newfies don't like you to call it stew. In their wonderful brogue
"It's not stew, it's biled dinner".
JIG'S DINNER- NEWFOUNDLAND RECIPE
- Naval Salt Beef pieces - 2 or three salt washed off.
- Several potatoes 6-12
- Onions 4 or 5 cleaned and cut in half
- Turnip half a small one, ¼ of a large one.
- Carrots 3 large
- Cabbage ½ small, or ¼ of a large
- Celery 3 stalks (when they had it) All items cut in large chunks.
- Pepper To taste, no salt as salt beef will salt the pot.
- Hot water to just cover all ingredients
`These are all of the traditional items in `Jig's Dinner``
Harold's Dinner - what I add to traditional Jigg`s Dinner
- 1 whole cluster of garlic. - each clove cleaned and left whole
- Handful of Pot barley
- Three finger pinch of Summer Savory, Easy to grow in the garden.
- One large fresh sweet pepper green or red. cut in large pieces
- Parsnip, Leek, Red Cabbage (colors) use only when you have no green cabbage, fresh parsley chopped, fresh Loveage `Maggie`` chopped, Fresh Basil leaves chopped, kale leaf chopped, water to cover all ingredients. If you have it, put it in your ``boiled dinner``. One item missing ! Never mind, just make it without, or substitute.
- Under meat add Three chicken legs and thighs (Skinned and fat removed), also cut leg away from thigh. (Chicken breast would also work). You need to watch for bones when eating (not a big problem).
- Brown, 5-10 minutes, the chicken and navel beef in bottom of largest stewing pot (canning pot), you have and will be boiling dinner in. Take all of browned meat out with tongs and set in a dish aside. Place layer of turnip, potatoes, carrots, cover with 2-3 pieces of meat, cover this with some of all vegetables ingredients that you have. Make another layer of meat and etc. until you have pot 1 inch from top. You will get used to preparing the right amount of vegetables by adding or not of potatoes to fill the pot. Now cover all ingredients with hot water and bring to boil (with lid on, but watch it). Turn heat down to medium or low and boil for 2-3 hours with lid tilted on top.
- You can add baking powder dumplings the last 15 minutes before eating, lid on to hot steam cook the dumplings.
- FILL PLATE WITH DUMPLINGS, SOME OF ALL VEGIES, 1 PIECE OF MEAT AND A SCOOP OF JUICE FROM THE BOILING POT POURED OVER ALL OF THIS.
THIS IS FOOD FOR THE GODS.
I had a big dumpling on my dinner plate surrounded with all the vegetables you see above cooked to perfection with one chicken thigh and covered over with the tasty juices from the boiling pot. FABULOUSLY GOOD DINNER !
A large pot makes enough for Karen and I for 4-5 meals, gets better with each warm over. ENJOY !!
Today is five days after the dinner was first boiled that made all these pictures. Karen made a half batch of fresh dumplings and when pot was hot and boiling dropped them in on top with lid on for fifteen minutes. We still have enough for my lunch tomorrow. Total 8 and 1/2 meals with making second batch of dumplings. Just as yummy as the first dinners.