12 (Fri) February 2021
Grandma Dowdel’s Burgoo
-Changgok, Sujeong, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-
w the Family
Newbery 100 Medals, 100 Meals (35) (see 100 NEWBERY M/Ms.)
While reading the 100 books that have been awarded the annual Newbery Medal since 1922, I will also attempt to create one dish for every book, a dish that is directly referenced in or indirectly inspired by the events of the book. The 100th Medal was recently announced: When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller – a Korean-themed book! Food plays a strong role in many of the stories; not surprising as the characters in most of the books are faced with adversity of some sort, including poverty, so they’re often very hungry and thus grateful whenever they get a bite to eat – as we all should be at every meal, give us this day our daily bread. The dishes will be featured as posts on Give Me This Day.
A Year Down Yonder (2001) by Richard Peck. Set during the Great Depression, the book is about 15-year-old Mary Alice Dowdel, who is sent to live for a year with Grandma Dowdel in rural Illinois to ease the financial pressures for her parents in Chicago. Actually, the book is more about the rascally grandmother and her shenanigans, as told through Mary Alice’s ever incredulous perspective.
I enjoyed the book. I didn’t think that I would, anticipating yet another bittersweet tale about life on a farm – which is fine per se, just not my cup of tea- yet the stories about Grandma Dowdel were quite entertaining, each chapter playing out like an episode of a sitcom, a surprisingly edgy sitcom (e.g., she sets up a boobytrap of hot glue to thwart would-be vandals on Halloween – one kid’s hair gets melted off, presumably resulting in lifelong burn scars).
Burgoo is an American dish. It’s a stew made of mixed meats and vegetables, whatever is available. Cooked in large quantities and served at communal functions (see also 11.259 Chicken Pilau), such as a fundraisers. Usually associated with the Midwest, including Illinois. The term is of unknown origin.
[paraphrased in part]
In the yard a big pot hung from a tripod over a crackling fire. It was the burgoo – a stew made with whatever you had on hand. White meat and red meat and maybe squirrel. Any old vegetable, heavy on the turnips. Potato wedges for body, stewed tomatoes for color, onions to taste. It was served at every outdoor event, from an auction to a hanging, as Grandma would say.
Interpreting the few clues from the book, I assembled a meat medley comprising beef shank + chicken thighs + pork belly + garlic sausages, all cut into bite-sized pieces and seared in the pot to caramelize the surfaces and provide a bit of charred flavor. The beef shank was further simmered in water for about an hour, both to tenderize the meat and make a stock. To the stock, I added a roux + tomato paste + minced onions + chopped potatoes + chopped turnips + chopped carrots + stewed tomatoes, along with dashes of salt + beef bouillon + garlic powder + smoked paprika powder + cracked black pepper + ground white pepper + “Cajun” spice + dried oregano + Tabasco sauce + pixie dust.
It turned out fine, just a standard tomato-based stew.
Beyond expectation, the family LOVED it. They requested that it become a regular item.
(See also FOODS.)
(See also PLACES.)