Sunday, February 5, 2017
Harder's Hardy German Chow Mein by Sandy Harder - from "Royals Recipes" (1969)
3 cups lean pork, diced
4 tbsp. Crisco
2 cups water
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups shredded cabbage
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1 1/2 cups sliced celery
1/4 tsp. sage
1/4 tsp. thyme
1 can cream of chicken soup
salt and pepper to taste
Cook cabbage and celery in two cups of water 15 minutes only. DO NOT GET LIMP. Drain and save water.
Brown pork in Crisco. Add the two cups of reserved flavored water. Cook until tender -- about 50 minutes. Add green pepper and onion last 15 minutes of cooking. Stir in celery and cabbage, mixing thoroughly.
Add soup and serve over Chinese noodles or rice.
Pitcher Mel Harder spent his entire 20-year career hurling for the Cleveland Indians. He was an All Star four times and briefly managed the club in two separate stints in the 60s. He later coached for the Mets, Cubs, Reds and finally the Royals for one season -- 1969. His number 18 was retired by the Cleveland organization in 1990.
I couldn't resist the curious name of this recipe and had to give it a try. "German chow mein" sounded like serious fusion food.
According to the entry in Royals Recipes, Harder's spouse Sandy invented this economical dish "once when water chestnuts and bean sprouts weren't available for making chow mein". Her call to the pen brought out some cabbage and celery, which may or may not have been part of the original recipe.
The end result was not as weird as I thought it would be, even though it featured two of the staples of 60s home cooking: Crisco and canned cream of chicken soup. The soup, which is added right at the end, is what forms the "sauce" of the dish. It slots in well, supporting the other main characters in this dish.
Sixties fusion! Sautéed pork and cabbage with Chinese noodles. An unusual grouping, but it all ended up going great together.