What is Forcemeat?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Forcemeat is made by mixing finely chopped lean meat with fat, and adding other flavorings. Forcemeat can be used as a stuffing, made into balls or patties, or formed into flat square or oval pieces like in the photograph.


Drams – A unit of weight formerly used by apothecaries, equal to one-eighth of an ounce.

Gammon – Ham that has been cured or smoked like bacon.

Gill – A liquid measurement. Four ounces in the U.S. and five ounces in the U.K.

Suet – The hard white fat on the kidneys and loins of cattle, sheep, and other animals.

Sweetbreads – An organ meat from the thymus gland or pancreas usually from veal and lamb.


This article, whether in the form of stuffing balls, or for patties, makes a considerable part of good cooking, by the flavor it imparts to whatsoever dish it may be added. Exact rules for the quantity cannot easily be given, but the following observations may be useful, and habit will soon give knowledge in mixing it to the taste.

The selection of ingredients should be made according to what they are wanted for, observing that of the most pungent, the smallest quantity should be used.

No one flavor should greatly preponderate. Yet if several dishes be served the same day, there should be a marked variety in the taste of the forcemeat, as well as of the gravies.

It should be consistent enough to cut with a knife, but neither dry nor heavy.

Forcemeat is sometimes formed into a square or oval piece for the center of the dish. It should be about an inch and a half thick. Place on a buttered sheet or plate and steam two hours. When cooked, slip onto the center of the dish. Arrange the entree on this, and pour the sauce around the base. Delicate cutlets, sweetbreads, etc., can be used here. Veal or chicken forcemeat is the best for all light entrees.

The following are the articles of which forcemeat may be made, without giving it any striking flavor. Cold fowl or veal, scraped ham, fat bacon, beef suet, crumbs of bread, salt, white pepper, parsley, nutmeg, and yolk and white of eggs well beaten to bind the mixture. To these, any of the following may be added, to vary the taste, and give it a higher relish. Oysters, anchovy, tarragon, savory, pennyroyal, knotted marjoram, thyme, basil, yolks of hard eggs, cayenne, garlic, shallot, chives, Jamaica pepper in fine powder, or two or three cloves.

To these, any of the following may be added, to vary the taste, and give it a higher relish. Oysters, anchovy, tarragon, savory, pennyroyal, knotted marjoram, thyme, basil, yolks of hard eggs, cayenne, garlic, shallot, chives, Jamaica pepper in fine powder, or two or three cloves.

Shred a little ham or gammon, some cold veal or fowl, beef suet, parsley, a small quantity of onion, and a very little lemon peel. Add salt, nutmeg, or pounded mace, bread crumbs, and either white pepper or cayenne. Pound it all together in a mortar, and bind it with one or two eggs beaten and strained. The same stuffing will do for meat, or for patties. For fowls, it is usually put between the skin and the flesh.

Scrape two ounces of undressed lean veal, free from skin and sinews, two ounces of beef or veal suet, and two of bread crumbs. Chop fine two drams of parsley, one of lemon peel, one of sweet herbs, one of onion, and add half a dram of mace or allspice reduced to a fine powder. Pound all together in a mortar, break into it the yolk and white of an egg, rub it all up well together, and season it with a little pepper and salt. This may be made more savory by the addition of cold boiled tongue, anchovy, shallot, cayenne, or curry powder.

The same stuffing will do for boiled or roast turkey as for veal, or to make it more relishing, add a little grated ham or tongue, an anchovy, or the soft part of a dozen oysters. Pork sausage meat is sometimes used to stuff turkeys or fowls, or fried, and sent up as garnish.

A pound of fine fresh suet, one ounce of cold veal or chicken, chopped fine, crumbs of bread, a little shallot or onion, white pepper, salt, nutmeg, mace, pennyroyal, parsley, and lemon thyme, finely shred. Beat as many fresh eggs, yolks and whites separately, as will make the above ingredients into a moist paste. Roll it into small balls, and boil them in fresh lard, putting them in just as it boils up. When of a light brown, take them out, and drain them before the fire. Balls made in this way are remarkably light, but being greasy, some people prefer them with less suet and eggs.

Take a pound of veal, half a pound of suet, two slices of ham, and some crumbs of bread. Chop them very fine and put in the yolks of two eggs. Season with parsley, thyme, mace, pepper and salt, roll it into small balls, and fry them brown. They are nice to garnish hashes, roast veal or cutlets, and to put in soup.

Boil a lean piece of beef. When perfectly done, chop fine, flavoring with a very small quantity of onion, pepper, and salt. Make into small balls, wet them on the outside with eggs, and roll in grated cracker or fine bread crumbs. Fry these forcemeat balls a light brown. When serving the dish, put these around a roast or tenderloin and pour over the whole a rich gravy. A sumptuous dish.

Cut slices from a fat rump of beef six inches long and half an inch thick. Beat them well with a pestle. Make a forcemeat of bread crumbs, fat bacon chopped, parsley, a little onion, some shredded suet, pounded mace, pepper and salt, and mix it up with the yolks of eggs. Spread a thin layer over each slice of beef, roll it up tight, and secure the rolls with skewers. Set them before the fire and turn them till they are a nice brown. Have ready a pint of good gravy, thickened with brown flour and one teaspoon butter, a gill of red wine, with two spoons of mushroom catsup. Lay the rolls in it, and stew them till tender.

photo credit

Further Reading:

How to Make Forcemeats by Culinary Institute of America

Related posts:

Author: Angela Johnson

I’ve been interested in cooking since I was a teenager. Growing up in a small town in Illinois, I ate many home-cooked meals and tried out recipes (mostly cookies). Wherever I live or travel, I check out grocery stores for unusual foods, eat at local restaurants, and buy regional cookbooks. I’m also fascinated with learning how people in the past lived, and how they obtained food and prepared it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *