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Things you shouldn't laugh at till you've tried...

I was describing a fond childhood dish to a friend who thought I was nuts. My mother used to simmer sauerkraut with a little sugar, black pepper, and butter until tender. Then she would stir in a can of pork and beans and heat through. This mix was served on top of boiled potatoes and the family wolfed the mix down.

I therefore had to make some and served him a plate. He loved it and offered his apologies. I'd like to hear from others who might have similar "weirdo" dishes that are incredibly good!

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  1. I see nothing wrong with that dish at all, sounds comforting and delicious.

    Poutine. Everyone laughs, sneers and gawks at the idea of french fries, cheese curds and gravy. Sure it will most definitely give you multiple heart attacks as you eat it, but its a strange combination that works.

    22 Replies
    1. re: TeRReT

      Yeah, huge +1 to this response and the idea of the thread.
      The "weird" stuff that we're describing is not weird for the sake of weird....like let's eat peacock patties with crispy fried grasshoppers on top just so that people at our BBQ will squeal. It's cooking "off the map" so that you (or the family) will be fed and satisfied.

      A sometimes-supper during the hot summer months when I was growing up was saltines and milk. That's it. Krispy (or whatever brand we had in the house) saltine crackers crunched into biggish chunks in a cereal bowl, milk poured on top, eat. Sometimes my mother would swirl a teaspoon of blackstrap molasses over the bowl, or toss in a handful of blueberries if we had them. Light, delicious and cooling. My husband had to admit it was a comforting dish.

      1. re: pinehurst

        my grandfather used to have crushed crackers and milk as a bed time snack.

        1. re: pinehurst

          I had saltines and milk for dinner last night as a matter of fact.

          1. re: pinehurst

            yep, crackers and milk. love it.

            1. re: pinehurst

              down here in the south, it was leftover cornbread and milk....

              1. re: Becca Porter

                We had our cornbread with buttermilk. Hmm, may be on the menu for today...

                1. re: pine time

                  Yes, I believe it was often buttermilk.

                  1. re: Becca Porter

                    When my mom was staying in an assisted living home, one of her neighbors greatly missed his cornbread and buttermilk. For a substitute he used fritos.

                    1. re: kengk

                      Fritos and buttermilk? Breakfast of Champions! '-)

              2. re: pinehurst

                Reminds me of the scene in A Box Of Moonlight where the hippie off- the- grid character was having crunched up Oreos in a bowl with milk for breakfast.
                It sounds good to me.

                1. re: Sparklebright

                  What the hey-- it can't be any unhealthier than some of the cereals that are sold!

                  1. re: Sparklebright

                    This is a typical dessert from when I grew up.

                2. re: TeRReT

                  NJ has a version called "Disco Fries." Fries, melted mozzarella and gravy.

                  1. re: Jackie007

                    There are derivative variants of poutine throughout much of the Eastern US. Some places, like Jersey, assign names, some just label them "cheese fries with gravy". Can't speak for out West, but wouldn't be surprised if they were common there either - the sh*t's good!

                    1. re: MGZ

                      They haven't been common in the two states where I've lived- Kansas and California- unless you consider chili cheese fries a variation, and that's pretty common in California.

                      Though, while unhealthy sounding, poutine sounds really good to me. My mom would make a face at it, but for all the things she will eat, she's really gotten bad about not wanting to try anything new.

                    2. re: Jackie007

                      In the OC--before it was "the" OC--we used to eat "Irish Nachos" at Knowlwoods. This dish comprises fries, melted cheese, chopped green onions, sour cream and I think bacon bits, if memory serves.

                      1. re: choctastic

                        that sounds delicious.
                        i have been known to make nachos using fries as the base for myself at home in the past but i don't tell others cause of how sloth-like it seems!

                        1. re: pie22

                          I just thought of making a dill potato salad, (leaving out the potato), served over fries.

                    3. re: TeRReT

                      no way. i've never tried poutine. but it sounds awesome. as you say, it clearly doesn't sound healthy, but from a deliciousness standpoint, what's not to like about fries, cheese and gravy?

                      1. re: TeRReT

                        Poutine IS NOT a strange combination. It's nectar of the gods.

                        1. re: LMAshton

                          A friend of mine tried to convince me that Poutine was originally the name of a famous French-Canadian porn actress. Fortunately, I'd actually heard about the dish beforehand and strongly denied it until he relented.

                        2. re: TeRReT

                          Many years ago, when I was waitressing my way through college, I worked nights in a diner. My favorite "lunch" was fries with cheese and gravy. (You can eat like that when you are 18...)

                          I didn't know it was a thing -- my coworkers might have thought it less weird if I'd been able to say, "This? Oh, this is like Canadian poutine."

                        3. Most of the foods of my youth, always presented by my Mother's side of the family, grandparents and elder family members, included such "oh my" foods as jarred pickled herring, cooked livers, tongue, headcheese, very soft deli meats, unfamiliar cheeses that were never chilled. Always served with fantastic, freshly baked European breads.

                          I was not a fan of much beyond the wonderful breads...but their power on my family table...well, that stayed with me.

                          1. I loved and still love Kibbe Nayyih, which is spiced raw ground beef mixed with bulger. It is spread out onto a large platter, drizzled with olive oil, and you go to town on it with pita bread. My non-Arabic friends think I am crazy for loving it (probably because they feel that is gross AND unsafe!). I don't eat it as much now because of meat safety concerns, but I do once in a while and thoroughly enjoy it.

                            13 Replies
                            1. re: maabso

                              Although we generally had baked kibbe, once in a while we'd have this while dining out (this was the old days)...both raw beef and raw lamb. Delicious, with onions and cucumbers dressed in mint vinaigrette and olive oil as garnish.

                              1. re: maabso

                                I've never had this but I am generally a fan of steak tartare and other raw beef preparations - this sounds delicious!

                                1. re: maabso

                                  My dad told me my grandfather feed kibbeh neyah before I had teeth.

                                  Still love it and make on occasion. I only worry to sanitize the exterior of the meat I'm going to use. Never had a problem

                                  1. re: scubadoo97

                                    How do you sanitize the exterior of the meat? I love kibbeh nayyeh, but it's definitely something I only eat at restaurants since I'm still a bit wary of the sanity of grinding my own lamb and eating it raw.

                                    1. re: JungMann

                                      Knowing that most any pathogens are on the surface a spritz with white vinegar for 10 min or a quick dip in very hot water will do the trick. I opt for the vinegar then a fresh water rinse.

                                      1. re: scubadoo97

                                        Great tips! Thank you scuba... No more excuses not to make it myself.

                                  2. re: maabso

                                    I used to eat it all of the time when I lived in Turkey, and my chef/housekeeper would toddle on down to the local Halal open air butcher shop, and the butcher would whack a chunk of VERY fresh lamb right off the hanging carcass for her. She would NOT grind it, but mince it by hand into a very fine mince. She claimed, and rightly so, that finely minced meat retains its juice better than ground meat and has better texture (not "mushy"). Then she mixed it with bulgur and parsley and whatever, shaped it on a plate and anointed it with super evoo that was ripe with olive pith from the grinding wheel and VERY fresh! DEEEElishous!!! Would I try to make it today (I know how!) with lamb I can buy anywhere in this country today, including my local halal butcher shop? Not on your life, baby! Mincing meat by hand with two super sharp knives is VERY hard and tedious work! I'm old, I'm lazy, and I will NEVER be that hungry... But oh my, those are very satisfying memories! '-)

                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                      what a great memory, C! it sounds absolutely delicious.

                                      1. re: mariacarmen

                                        It was! To be honest, I have tried it with lamb I "chopped" in my Cuisinart, and also with ground "lamburger", but fact is the hand-cut texture of tiny individual precision cut pieces of lamb flesh turns out to be critical to the "mouthfeel" and possibly even the flavor of traditional Turkish raw kibbe, as I remember it. I can and do make quite acceptable Adana kebab with ground and evenCuisinart processed lamb, but it just doesn't work for my flavor memories of raw kibbe. Raw kibbe made with ground lamb is something like eating mashed beluga caviar with all of the eggs already ruptured. It ain't the same! <sigh> Pity.

                                      2. re: Caroline1

                                        Oh great, now *I* want olive oil with pith fresh from the grinding wheel. :o)

                                        1. re: pdxgastro

                                          The prize justifies the quest. Go for it! And good luck. '-)

                                      3. re: maabso

                                        This sounds delicious to me!

                                        Whenever I make meatballs, I always eat a few raw...I grew up doing this and never stopped.

                                        I also like tartare, and the like...mmm

                                        Edit: This was a response to the Kibbe Nayyih post

                                      4. A childhood thing my mom would do is dip a chunk of fluffy crumb from a country loaf into red wine then sprinkle it with sugar and give it to us. The sugar taste mixed with the red wine was amazing, although probably better left to memory then retried.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: CallAnyVegetable

                                          LOL!!! I love it. Are you sure she wasn't just trying to put you rowdy kids to sleep with a little dose of alcohol? Next bottle of red wine I open, I'm trying it. Thanks. And cheers to your Mom. She'd probably be getting a visit from child protective services for making that today!!

                                          1. re: CallAnyVegetable

                                            We used I let stale bread ends soak on the meat juice of the cutting board from our cooked steaks an eat them after they were nice and soggy. Now we let our meat rest so there really isn't much juice to deal with.

                                          2. I dated a guy in grad school who invited me over for goulash one evening.

                                            Me: "Wow, you know how to make Hungarian food?!'

                                            Him: 'No. I ate it growing up, but it's not.....wait, you think goulash is Hungarian?' [weird look]

                                            I said I wanted to see him make this dish, and he happily obliged. We go to the grocery store, and pick up Kraft macaroni and cheese (deluxe, which made me feel special :)....ground beef.....canned stewed tomatoes.....

                                            It came together quickly....nary a speck of paprika in sight.....and it was delicious in the most unexpected way, especially on a gray, cold winter day.

                                            16 Replies
                                            1. re: 4Snisl

                                              Yes, goulash can mean an astounding number of things depending on where one was brought up. My mom's included hamburger, noodles and tomato sauce, but not macaroni and cheese. I think there might have been green peppers and onions involved as well. My husband's mom's was hamburger, macaroni and tomato paste, and he says that she sometimes added the cheese powder if she was using a box of Kraft rather than just plain elbows. Hungarians the world over are laughing, I know!

                                              1. re: 4Snisl

                                                this week I made "Gramma's goulash" - rice, ground meat (turkey these days but used to use ground beef), sauteed green pepers and onions, a can of diced tomatoes and a can of pork and beans. DH USED to poo-poo it, until he recently tried it - after 20 years - now I've had to make it several times since May. :)

                                                1. re: 4Snisl

                                                  This is fascinating! I'd never heard of any type of goulash except for the Hungarian stew until my mid-20's.... :)

                                                  1. re: 4Snisl

                                                    This is our family's goulash too: elbow macaroni, ground beef and straight ketchup. When I make it for myself I'll used crushed tomatoes and oregano to lighten it up, but for Dad it has to be the way his grandma made it. (I read once this was what some people call chop suey, but can't confirm.)

                                                    1. re: ennuisans

                                                      Here in Boston, we grew up on American Chop Suey, elbow macaroni, crushed tomato, green peppers, onion and ground beef. It was even served in our school lunch cafetaria. It brings back very fond memmories. :)

                                                      www.saffron215.blogspot.com

                                                      1. re: mcel215

                                                        Thank you for confirming that! And it really is a comforting combination, isn't it? Almost like a deconstructed meatloaf.

                                                        1. re: ennuisans

                                                          I married an Italian, so American Chop Suey was not in their repetoire. :( And not served in my home for many years.

                                                          Now that I am on my own again, I love to make it in the winter. And yes, it's a very conforting combination too. The only change I make is to add red pepper instead of green. I wonder why no one ever had red bell peppers when I was growing up? I know our produce has come a long way since I was young, but just letting the peppers ripen doesn't sound like rocket science to me. ;)

                                                          www.saffron215.blogspot.com

                                                          1. re: ennuisans

                                                            My mother's family made that and called it both American chop suey or goulash.

                                                          2. re: mcel215

                                                            I never realized that was a Boston thing; but yes, I'm from Boston and yes, that's in my recipe box! LOL My mom made it all the time and now I make it often during the winter months. I didn't click your link to see if this was on it, but we also add some slices of the dreaded Velveeta cheese on top (and I still do!). :) Oddly, in a house where nearly everything was made from scratch, Velveeta was a staple.

                                                            1. re: Scirocco

                                                              Maybe New England? We were from CT and VT.

                                                        2. re: 4Snisl

                                                          my mom, in a misguided effort to make us kids more "worldly," served us Hungarian Goulash: elbow macaroni, ground beef, spaghetti sauce. . .and peas! i'm not sure we loved it, but we sure ate it a lot, and it was definitely comfort food.

                                                          she also used to make us her special Wiener Snitzle--which was scalloped potatoes with a can of creamed corn dumped in. . .and cut up hot dogs slices. all mixed together and baked until golden brown. we loved this one! but imagine my surprise when i was in Vienna and ordered the wienerschnitzle in a little restaurant, and the waiter brought me a beautiful pan fried veal cutlet with a brown sauce on it! each of us thought the other was nuts!

                                                          1. re: mrobmsu

                                                            Had to laugh out loud at your last sentence.

                                                          2. re: 4Snisl

                                                            In SW Ohio it was called Johnny Marzetti. I researched and it was named for a dish served at a restaurant in Columbus but it's the same thing, A few years ago a co-worker heated up her lunch and brought it back to her desk as we all do. The smell snapped me back to childhood. When I asked her what she was eating, she was almost embarrassed. She said her mom used to make this dish when pennies were tight and she still made it once in a blue moon...Lo and behold, she called it goulash and I called it marzetti:)

                                                            1. re: 4Snisl

                                                              My half-Hungarian grandma used to make it sort of this way: hamburger, noodles, tomatoes from the garden.. Ohh man, I want some now. I don't understand how she came up with this as "goulash", and it's definitely not authentic, but it's pretty darned tasty.

                                                              1. re: 4Snisl

                                                                My family's goulash is hamburger browned with onions, tomato juice, elbow macaroni, salt, pepper and basil.

                                                                Any additions completely destroy the pleasure I get from this dish.

                                                                And, I can make Hungarian Goulash, too; it's delicious, but it's not what Mama made!