This post is part of the series, “The History in My Grandmother’s Recipe Boxes“. The series includes some timeless classics. Some, however, are better markers of the past.
With dubious distinction, this recipe wins on the first line alone, calling for a pig’s head with ears and brains removed! It’s like someone requesting “wet work” in Pulp Fiction! Then it actually uses the word “sloppy” in the recipe. I’m sorry, you’re already starting with a pig’s head, the word “sloppy” just drives home the unsavory nature of this dish.
Head Cheese–in this case Hog’s Head Cheese–is a relatively common dish from the recent past. It could take the form of a cold-cut like an olive loaf, but more often was a terrine, more like paté. Anthony Bourdain (a favorite food and travel writer of mine) once said if people didn’t know what was in the Scottish dish Haggis it would be the second most popular sausage in America. Be that as it may, I now know what’s in Hog’s Head Cheese and will definitely not be recreating it at home!
The thing is, I’m an adventurous eater and if served a sausage in a restaurant, I’m not going to trifle over where on the pig it came from; but this! I mean, “pick out the bones and skin”?!?! The recipe says, “It will be ready for use as soon as it is cold” Cold in Hell maybe!
What really surprises me is that someone from Woburn, MA with the initials “M.E.J” actually wrote in to the paper asking for this recipe! Did they say, “I’ve got a hog’s head and I don’t know what to do with it?”
I’m sure there are people who insist this was actually good back in the day and you can’t get good Hog’s Head Cheese now, but I am personally glad you can’t get this now!
Seriously, back in 1935 someone wrote to a newspaper with a recipe for “hot dog stew”! They didn’t even have the pride to put their own name on it, just, “Tillie’s Neighbor”. They also offer the helpful portion advice that it could be halved if too much.
I can only hope that this is more reflective of the Great Depression than it is of the culinary state of the union in 1935. Apparently my grandmother tried it and like it, actually making a note that it was “good”. Hot dogs with fried onions, canned tomatoes and peas does not a “Frankfurt Luncheon Dish” make.
This one calls for boiling hot dogs, then skinning and grinding them! You couldn’t already get ground hot dogs in a can in 1943? Isn’t that what “Deviled Ham” was? This got mixed with cracker crumbs, tomato soup, and an egg and baked for an hour. An HOUR! I’m half inclined to make this just to see how it comes out. It seems like an hour in the oven would turn it into some sort of adobe block.
My grandmother has lots of good recipes in her files and many, like the Meatloaf Taste Test evolved through the years into modern classics. These, however, are a few that will be left in the 1930’s and 40’s.