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The Food Of Downton Abbey

First Posted: 01/25/2012 9:56 am Updated: 08/31/2012 10:48 am

If you have not yet heard of "Downton Abbey," we want to know: where have you been hiding? This British series period drama has taken television viewers by storm. Originally aired on British TV in September 2010, it has recently gained widespread popularity in the U.S. (we at Kitchen Daily suspect that its recent release on Netflix instant streaming has something to do with that). Nearly everyone we talk to has just finished or is nearly done with Season One, and we are all excited about the release of Season Two on PBS.

There is a lot to love about the show. The characters are all compelling in their own way, and it is fascinating to watch a household that functions as a tiny town. But what we particularly love is how much cooking and eating takes place during each episode. Meals were a big part of life during the Edwardian period. The noble class used it as a way to, quite literally, taste their social status. They ate four times a day -- breakfast, lunch, teatime and dinner. And the dinners were particularly elaborate, ranging from six to 22 courses!

While we can't say for sure how big their portions were (we hope not too big), we do know that meat and poultry was heavily featured. Click through the gallery below to see what you might be served at a dinner party for eight during this time period. While the recipes offered below are not exactly the same dishes as those from the Edwardian era, they provide an idea of what one could expect. And if you should choose to host your own "Downton Abbey" dinner party, feel free to leave out a couple of dishes -- or five or six. (I mean, really, who needs to eat chicken, lamb, filet mignon, and quail all in one dinner?)

What is your favorite British food? Leave a comment below!

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  • The First Course

    Most dinners of this time period began with soup and was accompanied by seafood dishes. Seafood is lighter than other proteins, making it more appropriate for a starter course. You could normally find at the table one shellfish plate and one fish during this course.

  • Creamy Watercress Soup

    This soup is a spicy pureed green soup. It gets its kick from a hint of horseradish and blue cheese, and is lightened up with its base of fresh watercress. <strong>Get the <a href="" target="_hplink">Creamy Watercress Soup</a> recipe</strong>

  • Oysters On The Half Shell With Mignonette Sauce

    On the half shell, with mignonette sauce, is a classic way to serve oysters. The sauce is a combination of champagne vinegar, shallots and black pepper. <strong>Get the <a href="" target="_hplink">Oysters on the Half Shell with Mignonette Sauce</a> recipe</strong>

  • Poached Salmon With Creamy Piccata Sauce

    Poaching salmon is a light way to prepare this fatty fish. Topping it with the creamy piccata sauce -- full of capers, shallots and dill -- ensures that it stays rich in flavor. <strong>Get the <a href="" target="_hplink">Poached Salmon with Creamy Piccata Sauce</a> recipe</strong>

  • The Entree Course

    The entrees, which came before the second and third course, were normally an option of one meat dish and one poultry. Typical dishes varied from larded fillets of rabbits to fowl au bechamel.

  • Filet Mignon With Mushrooms And Mustard-Red Wine Sauce

    Filet mignon is an extremely lean and subtle cut of meat. The rich sauce that tops this filet is given a punchy flavor through the use of a spicy, dijon mustard. <strong>Get the <a href="" target="_hplink">Filet Mignon with Mushrooms and Mustard-Red Wine Sauce</a> recipe</strong>

  • Mustard Tarragon Chicken Cutlets

    A strong mustard sauce, flavored with tarragon, tops this chicken dish. The wine added to the sauce adds a complexity of flavor to this otherwise simple recipe. <strong>Get the <a href="" target="_hplink">Mustard Tarragon Chicken Cutlets</a> recipe</strong>

  • The Second Course

    The second course is when the heaviest dishes came out. While meat did appear in the other courses, it is in the second course that dishes such as roast saddle of mutton, roast turkey with sausages and roast leg of pork with apple sauce were served.

  • Lamb Stew With Lemon And Dill

    For this recipe it is best to find lamb on the bone -- it cooks more slowly, giving the flavors more time to develop. Flavored with dill, lemon and oregano, this lamb dish is simple to put together. <strong>Get the <a href="" target="_hplink">Lamb Stew with Lemon and Dill </a>recipe</strong>

  • Turkey Breast with Poached Plums

    This turkey breast recipe requires minimal effort and its results are packed with flavor. Roasted with ginger and syrup, the dish gets an additional sweet note when topped with freshly poached plums. <strong>Get the <a href="" target="_hplink">Turkey Breast with Poached Plums</a> recipe</strong>

  • Asparagus With Shallot Caper Vinaigrette

    Be sure to cook the asparagus until just tender, with still a little crunch left in them. The shallot caper vinaigrette -- which is potent and rich -- transforms this simple asparagus dish into one that you will be making again and again. <strong>Get the <a href="" target="_hplink">Asparagus with Shallot Caper Vinaigrette</a> recipe</strong>

  • The Third Course

    The third course was served before the dessert and ices. Typically, this course included a small game bird, such as squab, pigeon or quail, along with sweets. Typically found in the assortment of sweets was one type of fruit jelly, a meringue and a pudding.

  • Quail With Ginger-Cranberry Pilaf

    To get a nice crispy skin, this recipe suggests searing the quail in a skillet before finishing it off in the oven. It is baked atop a bed of pilaf sweetened with pears and cranberries, and flavored with fresh thyme and sage. <strong>Get the <a href="" target="_hplink">Quail with Ginger-Cranberry Pilaf</a> recipe</strong>

  • Meringue Nests With Roasted Rhubarb And Strawberry Sauce

    Meringue was a typical sweet treat in those days, and it was often topped with fresh fruit for garnish. Be sure you are using sugar and not salt, you don't want to have a repeat of the mishap that occurred on "Downton Abbey." <strong>Get the <a href="" target="_hplink">Meringue Nests with Roasted Rhubarb and Strawberry Sauce</a> recipe</strong>

  • Apple Bread Pudding

    Appearing on the menus from this era was Cabinet pudding -- which is very similar to what we know as bread pudding. Cabinent pudding is a moulded pudding made with bread or sponge cake, sweetened with fruit and a creamy sauce to top it. <strong>Get the <a href="" target="_hplink">Apple Bread Pudding</a> recipe</strong>

  • Jellied Cranberry Sauce With Fuji Apple

    Don't eat the canned jellied cranberries -- make it at home! It's easy, and delicious, with this recipe. The cranberry jellied sauce is dotted with apple pieces, which adds a nice flavor contrast. <strong>Get the <a href="" target="_hplink">Jellied Cranberry Sauce with Fuji Apple</a> recipe</strong>

  • Apple Confit

    Making your own apple sauce is easy to do -- and the flavor is far superior to any store-bought variety. Once you try this recipe, you will be wondering why you had not done so sooner. You can make this recipe ahead of time, it keeps in the fridge for about half a week (and tastes great as a topping for pancakes). <strong>Get the <a href="" target="_hplink">Apple Confit</a> recipe</strong>

  • WATCH: A 'Downton Abbey' Dinner Party


Filed by Julie R. Thomson  |