19h25 UTC; MONDAY, 16 JUNE 2014: Readers, an Appy Polly Loggy first off: I had intended to include this as part of my previous blog post from Saturday last, but an issue with a key source for the subject matter to hand (more on that to follow) precluded this, essentially forcing it ahead to this time. That, and the just-concluded Winona Steamboat Days festivities, notwithstanding where Saturday evening's events had to be cancelled because of heavy rain; as for Sunday, a couple of brief downpours marred the parade, but didn't adversely afflict such, and the fireworks went off without any hitches.

Now, to business (as it were): In the glory days of American passenger rail, many a railroad prided itself on the selection of fare in their dining cars, which sometimes explained why many travellers preferred certain railroads (and their trains) over others. And the Great Northern Railway (now part of Burlington Northern Santa Fe, itself part of Berkshire Hathaway) was no exception; before the introduction of the Empire Builder in 1929 (itself honouring James J. Hill [1838-1916], as made the Great Northern "his," essentially), the Oriental Limited was its premier Chicago-Twin Cities-Fargo-Glacier National Park-Pacific Northwest train. And following its 1924 reequipment, the Great Northern came out with a booklet of especially popular (and yet practical) recipes from its dining-car patrons worth trying at home.

One especially popular item in the Great Northern's dining car menus was their baked ham dinner, described thusly with pride: "Great Northern Dining Cars are famous for many specials, but none are more deserving of commendation than their famous Baked Smoked Ham and the delightful sauce served with it. French fried sweet potatoes are served with the ham, as is [sic] also bread and butter, coffee, tea, or milk, all for seventy-five cents-- a satisfying meal at a reasonable price. Truly, this is the road of dependable service." Chef George Scott (who, it was said, could make such a piece de resistance) offered the recipe therefor:
Wash thoroughly in warm water, then soak overnight in cold water, covering the entire ham, drain off this water and re-cover with cold water, placing 2 or 3 teaspoonfuls of sugar or heavy molasses in the water. Then let the ham simmer or boil slowly for 1 hour, after which boil steadily, seeing that it is kept covered with water at all times. The average ham requires about 3 hours to boil, or say 20 minutes for each pound of weight. When boiled, remove skin, taking care not to tear the fat, place in a pan of vinegar and rub the ham, first with sugar and then with vinegar. Next cover the ham with cracker crumbs or fine bread crumbs and sugar. Dot ham with spices and bake.

Sauce for Baked Ham: Mix a sweet sauce with 2 cupfuls water, 1 cupful sugar, 1 cupful raisins, 1 cupful currant jelly, juice of 2 lemons and 2 oranges, reduce by boiling till fairly thick, then strain.

Make an Espagnole sauce with ham, veal, beef, chicken bones, beef and veal shank, carrots, turnips, onions, tomatoes, celery, parsley, thyme, marjoram savory, bay leaves, cloves, allspice and pepper. Fry till brown and add enough browned flour to form a roux. Moisten with good, rich stock and simmer slowly for several hours, then strain.

Work the sweet sauce into an equal amount of Espagnole sauce and garnish with boiled shredded orange and lemon peel. This sauce, when finished, should be smooth and as thick as cold syrup. Serve very hot always.
(No doubt worth keeping on hand against next Easter--or Thanksgiving, for that matter.)

A "variation on a theme," so to speak, was chef Jack Hall's offering this recipe for Baked Minnesota Ham:
Put ham in pot and cover with cold water, bring to boil slowly and allow it to simmer on side of range at boiling point for about 2 hours. Pull skin from ham and cover with sugar, place in roasting pan with pint of cider. Put in oven and bake until brown. Serve "G. N." sauce in separate sauce-boat.
Meanwhile, some general advice for boiling a ham from chef William Duvall:
When boiling a ham let it remain in the water boiled in until water is cold. This adds moisture and prevents ham getting stale and dry, but be sure to start it off in boiling water--this retains the flavor.
Proving that there's more than one way to skin a cat, even when you consider that "Hunger is not a necessary requisite to a full enjoyment of one of Jack Hall's meals. His delicious creations tempt even the most jaded appetites and delight the connoisseur," to quote from that very recipe book.

But then again, for such who prefer "old school" pot roasts, chef Robert Woods offered this recipe for Great Northern Special Beef Pot Roast:
Take piece of loin butt as large as required, put in stone jar with water and vinegar sufficient to cover, add a dash of salt to this. With a larding needle make a hole throughout meat and insert following items: Salt, pork, carrots and onions, 2 kernels of garlic. Place back in the pickle, add a few bay leaves to pickle and one sliced lemon. Allow to remain for 3 days in pickle. Place in a roasting pan and cook same in a quick oven until nicely browned.

Make gravy from juice remaining in pan after meat is ready and add sufficient brine to flavor to individual taste. Put beef in saucepan, cover with gravy and permit to simmer until well done. Serve with potato cakes.
(As for the potato cakes, the recipe is simplicity itself: "Grate raw potatoes, add grated onion to taste, flour, salt and baking powder. Make into cakes and fry.")

And who couldn't resist a hot chicken loaf for dinner, as per chef Ben Roselle ("It is a constant source of wonder that such perfect meals may be conceived in the comparatively narrow confines of the diner's kitchens. The efficient skill of a chef like Ben Roselle is nothing short of magic")?
2 cupfuls cold cooked chicken
2 tablespoonfuls chopped parsley
2 cupfuls scalded milk
1 teaspoonful salt
¼ cupful butter
1/8 teaspoonful white pepper
¾ cupful shredded wheat
Yolks of 3 eggs
Biscuit crumbs
Whites of 3 eggs, beaten dry

Scald the milk, add butter, crumbs, salt and pepper, cook 3 minutes, take from fire, add chicken, parsley and yolks of eggs beaten light, last of all fold in whites of eggs, turn into buttered dish and bake 45 minutes in moderate oven. Serve with sauce made from 2 cupfuls chicken stock, 2 tablespoonfuls flour, 2 tablespoonfuls butter, one-half teaspoonful salt, one-eighth teaspoonful paprika. Mushroom sauce may be used.
Hopefully, I've done you a favour with some inspiration for some interesting new menu ideas, especially should ennui come into the equation over what to try next for supper.



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