Monday, August 19, 2013

Looking good! Tasting questionable...

Cooks have various interests that sometimes compete. Food should of course taste great, but it should also look appealing. Sometimes one interest clearly wins out over the others...

When I saw this picture in Good Housekeeping's Cooking for the Family (a magazine-ish collection copyright 1971), I saw its immediate appeal, even though I'm not a meatloaf person:

People really did love ring molds for a while, but main dish versions usually consist of rice or noodle ring molds filled with some kind of sauce to use as a topping. This is different-- a ring of meat loaf stuffed with a side of fries. It's very cute and I can see the family appeal. Even if the fries are crispy immediately after the thing is put together, though, they will probably be soggy within seconds. 

I wondered whether the recipe did anything special to try to keep the fries crispy:

Not really; they're just baked and dumped into the ring as a last step. The serving is really cute, but the looks take precedence over the fries being appetizing.

I wasn't sure that this recipe on its own was worth a post, but as I hunted around for other ideas, I came across another example, this time from Good Housekeeping's Clock-Watchers' Cook Book (also magazine-ish, copyright 1967):

This seems to make even less intuitive sense. Meatloaf and fries seem like a good family meal, but throwing fries in with peas and soupy chicken seems less like a great idea. Then I looked at the recipe:

Yes, the fries are cooked in a covered pan with the soup, chicken, and peas until "fork-tender"! The sogginess isn't a bug. It's a feature! I hope the people who made this recipe could convince themselves that they really wanted fork-tender fries.

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