Feeding hungry British soldiers during Battlefield 1

“Battlefield 1” is the latest entry into the long-running franchise, which started back in 2002 with “Battlefield 1942.”

The first-person shooter will be based during World War I and inspired by historical events from that time. An alpha version of the game was released to select users and features a single battleground with British and German troops fighting over key locations.

The action takes place in an area called St. Quentin’s Scar and features four different classes to try out. Fighting is chaotic, destructive and fluid, with both sides attacking flag points scattered across the map.

St. Quentin Scar is meant to be part of the French countryside. A small village is quickly overrun by both forces, but there are telltale signs of how the French lived during the early 1900s.

As bad as it was for the civilians, troops on both sides had to make due with ever-changing supply lines, dwindling supplies and food that tried to make it feel like home, but failed in the execution.

According to a 2014 Express article on an exhibit about food on the frontlines of World War I, a standard Army ration pack didn’t exist until after the war. Men carried emergency “iron rations” with allowances of meat, bread, cheese, tea, jam or fruit, vegetables, rum or porter, and tobacco.

Away from the frontline, cooks often fed groups of men, using locally found or gathered spices to season their dishes. According to the article, many of the cooks died in fighting, but it was considered to be a cushy job by other British soldiers.

One of the meals produced by the cooks for the men consisted of a brown stew, often with notoriously hard biscuits, and a milk biscuit pudding, usually with dairy from cows that were herded with the troops as they moved on.

The Express article had recipes for each, but they fed 100 men. I’m not feeding 100 men, and I’m going to use ingredients from today rather than 1914, because I want to be able to eat it.

Recipe for Brown Stew (From The Express)

Ingredients: Meat, onions, flour, mixed vegetables, pepper, salt, stock.

Method:

Bone meat, remove fat, cut into 1oz pieces.

Place 3lb flour, ½oz pepper, ½oz salt in a bowl and mix

Place stock in bottom of cooking vessel and dredge meat in flour.

Peel and cut up onions, wash and peel and cut up the mixed vegetables, add onions and vegetables to meat, mix well together. Barely cover with stock and place in oven to cook.

Stir frequently. Time: 2½ to 3 hours.

Pretty cut and dry. But remember, they were feeding an army. We're only trying to feed an infiltration squad.

My Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of stewing beef, chunks
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 good pinches of salt
  • 20 grinds of black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil (not olive oil)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups of beef stock
  • 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 20 baby carrots
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas

Place a large pot or Dutch oven on medium heat and begin to heat up the oil.

Put the flour in a large, sealable bag and season with the salt and pepper. Add the meat to the bag and toss to coat.

Once the oil is hot, add the meat and sear, stirring often to prevent burning. Add the onion, garlic, paprika, bay leaf, stock and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine and cover.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Check on it about every 30 minutes and give it a stir or adjust the heat to prevent things from sticking to the bottom.

After the full time, add the cubed potatoes, stir and cook for another 15 minutes. Add the carrots, cook for an additional 15 minutes, then add the peas, cooking for about 5 minutes more.

Check the vegetables. They should be soft and tender but not mushy. Serve it up with your favorite biscuits and enjoy a hearty meal after a hard day on any battlefield.

The milk biscuit pudding turn out -- badly. I didn't use the proper cookie base and will try again. I won't show you the terrible failure.

Next, we visit the other side of the battlefield to see how the German army ate early in the war. As it became less successful for their side, supplies and food became more Spartan.