Sunday, February 28, 2016

Beef Fudge!

Mrs. Florence E. Weist, Choteau, Mont.
The Poll-ette Hostess Cookbook, 1977

Fudge!  With beef!  Seems like it was custom made for me to torment Dr. Husband with!

The recipe, sent to me by superfan Spencer, comes from "The Poll-ette Hostess Cookbook", a collection of Montanan Polled Hereford ranchers' wives' favorite recipes.
A disclaimer:  Dr. Husband and I have been to Montana many times. It's a lovely place full of gracious people. We have never seen or been offered beef fudge.

Also, try not to think too much about the fact that our bovine cover girl is licking her lips, while serving up a sizzling hot steak.

Now, on to the fudge. Here's the recipe it its original form:

I didn't have any leftover roast beef handy, so I used some lunch meat roast beef.  I also used the optional walnuts. (I'm not exactly sure in what respect roast beef would ever be expected to add "crunchiness".)

Mrs. Weist doesn't mention anything about precise temperatures, but I know from my genetic candy making heritage (if you've been following my other blog, you know that my grandmother was the Candy Queen of Middlepoint, Ohio!) that proper fudge is dependent upon a couple of key temperatures.  To wit: when heating up your sugar base, you should cook to a "soft ball stage" (237 to 239 degrees), then remove from heat, and wait until it cools to between 110 and 120 degrees before stirring in the other ingredients.

I faithfully cooked to temp at the front end, but stirred everything else in before it cooled all the way - the result is a softer fudge that's a little harder to cut and serve, but otherwise delicious.

Yes I said delicious. I'll be damned if I can detect any hint of beef flavor in this fudge. It just tastes like fudge, begging the question of why Mrs. Weist would have ever added beef in the first place, she could have just made fudge and then elegantly used up her leftovers elsewhere.  Unless, of course, she really was dependent upon the fact that the fudge "keeps real well" - maybe she was without refrigeration?

Dr. Husband was gone all day and I had gleeful visions of a horrific tasting session, but as I said, it's delicious. (He was a little put off once he found out what's in it, but...)  I'd suggest if you want to try this, use bacon rather than beef, for a little more crunch AND something to counteract the sweetness triple-whammy of sugar, chocolate, and marshmallow cream.
 Our Rating: One Screaming Husband!
(all dishes are rated from one to five Screaming Husbands. One Screaming Husband equals a happy home where all problems are solved during cocktail hour. Five Screaming Husbands signals the beginning of divorce proceedings.)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Rappie Pie!

contributed by Canada

Well, here I am again, after a little post-Kitschmas break. I promise I'll be up and running at full speed soon, h-honest!

Today's offering (it's our anniversary, so I avoided something potentially disgusting) is a dish Dr. Husband and I tried in Canada a couple of summers ago, Nova Scotia to be precise.  Rappie Pie (from the French patates râpées) is a traditional Acadian dish made with potatoes and whatever meat or seafood you might happen to have lying around. Most commonly chicken, so that's what I used.

You'll need chicken, cheesecloth, and potatoes. LOTS of potatoes. Most recipes call for 20 pounds (rappie pie is often served at Christmas or other large family gatherings, so recipes are designed to feed a crowd.)  I used five pounds, and maybe could have done with ten...five pounds yielded only a medium-size mixing bowl full of grated potatoes.

Oh, did I mention the grating?  The potatoes need to be grated within an inch of their lives.  I cheated and used a food processor (the actual chopping blade, not the grating blade - you're not making hash browns, you want a very very tiny grate.)  Some people these days use a juicer with a pulp gathering feature.  Because, you see, once the potatoes are grated, you're going to wrap them in cheesecloth and squeeze all the liquid out of them.

(If you're in Canada you can order frozen blocks of already-grated-and-squeezed potatoes...but they won't ship to the U.S. Thanks, Obama.)

Keep track of exactly how much liquid you extract from the potatoes, because you're going to replace it. With chicken broth.  Oh, did I mention that while you're grating the potatoes, you should be simmering a fryer or stew hen in the pot?  (Honestly, for all the trouble it was, if I ever make this again I use store bought broth and a rotisserie chicken. And probably powdered potatoes.  All in the name of mid-century convenience cooking, you understand.)

Mix the grated potatoes well with hot broth, equal to the amount of liquid that was extracted, then spread half the mixture in a buttered casserole dish.  Layer in shredded chicken (from the aforementioned fryer), then top with the remaining potato mixture.

Bake at 350 for about 3 hours. Honest.

The chicken nearly liquefies, and the potato mixture becomes a gelatinous goo. It's really disgusting up close, now that I think of it. But hearty and warming and homey.  Traditionally served with molasses. Or pickles. Or tomatoes. Or cut into squares the next day and fried in butter.

Dr. Husband had his with cranberry sauce, and I drizzled honey on mine.  I think the "rules" are pretty lax, and of course Canadians are so polite no one would ever tell you if you did it wrong.

You'll notice I haven't left you an easy to follow recipe. Because there are literally no two alike. Half the fun was figuring out exactly what I was going to use, and how much of it. If you're really tempted to try, Google some recipes and have fun. Here, I'll even do the Googling for you.

Anyway, here's a video!