Recipes, Retro Cooking

Retro Cooking: 1940 Meat-Ball Stew

As I prepare to visit Quebec soon, I was in the mood to make some traditional French Canadian food. I pulled out a cookbook brought to me by my mom, once belonging to my grandma. The book is bilingual (French-English), published in 1940 and published by A.Bélanger Limitée, as a way to sell their cooking ranges. Traditional Canadian Recipes / Cuisine Typiquement Canadienne was written by Mrs. Rose Lacroix, with illustrations by Mr. Jean Simard.


I settled on a recipe my paternal grandmother used to make (although possibly not this specific version) and that my father and I would happily eat out of a can: ragoût de boulettes (meat-ball stew). It is  very simple recipe of pork meat balls that cook slowly on the stove.

Ragoût de boulettes / Meat-Ball Stew

  • Servings: 4
  • Source: Traditional Canadian Recipes, by Rose Lacroix (1940)
  • Print

I cut the original recipe in half and it still made enough meatballs to generously feed 4 people.


  • 1 pound of minced pork
  • 1/2 tablespoon of butter/fat
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1.5 pints of water
  • 1/4 cup of flour, browned


  1. Brown the onion with fat/butter, in a pan.
  2. Mix the seasonings with the meat in a large bowl. Add the browned onions.
  3. Work the mixture with the hands and make sure the seasonings are well distributed.
  4. Shape meat balls about 1.5 inches in diameter and flour them lightly.
  5. Drop them in 1.5 pints of boiling water and cook slowly for 1 hour.
  6. At the end of this time, thicken the stock with the browned flour. As long as the stock is boiling, there won’t be any lumps.

This recipe tasted so familiar to me. Quite possibly because a lot of hearty Quebec dishes have similar seasonings. It was so easy to make and feels like it could continue to be made the way the original recipe intended, or could be modified to a more modern diet. I would possibly use ground turkey instead of the pork, chicken broth instead of the water…but really, why change something so good and so simple?

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