This special recipe is dedicated to Alison ~
her kindness reminds me to never underestimate
the power of a Cousin.
~ ♥ ~
This recipe crept into my life several decades after it was penned from a very lovable and surprising person. I didn’t discover the recipe among the hundreds of my Mom “Betty’s” other recipes — I found it in my mailbox!
While recently packing up her family’s belongings to move near my childhood home in San Antonio my Cousin Alison came across this recipe from her Grandmother Delores’ cookbook and was kind enough to send it to me along with a few other recipes that will be soon joining the digital archives here at Betty’s Cook Nook. Alison knew what these recipes would mean to me!
The connection? Delores is my Mom “Betty’s” older — and only — Sister and this recipe is one of a precious few that have found its way to the Betty’s Cook Nook archive that was otherwise missing from my Mom’s cookbook. So Texas-sized props to my Cousin Alison!
A healthy appetite for family
When you’re a grown adult it’s not every day someone seemingly new arrives into your heart. Over the past few years Alison has shown me that even a part of my familiar family can have a surprising impact decades after we first knew each other. I love uncovering all the ways we are alike even when I’m not mining for things in common; a crescendo I hope has no end.
One such example is our thirst for our family genealogy. I heard from my family that Alison had great skills and interest for researching our past but it wasn’t until this month when I realized how true this was!
As a self-proclaimed internet researcher I pride myself on being able to find a lot of things online thru keyword and image searches. Heck, it was this post that helped me reunite with my Mom and her Sister’s childhood home here in Austin 80 years after it was built!
Shortly after receiving the recipes, Alison and I were geeking out via fierce sms txt exchanges after dual-searching a missing part of our family’s history — my Grandmother “Nanny’s” father, “Joe,” Betty’s Grandfather. I literally knew nothing about him but Alison found out from Census records she accessed on Ancestry.com that Joe was an orphan who came to the U.S. when he was a mere 9 years old! Joe hailed from a tiny village named Horní Lideč in Moravia — a country that is now part of the Czech Republic — and wound up in the farm country of Dime Box, Texas, where my Mom was born… and close to where Alison and I went to college. Gig ‘Em! Alison and I are currently on the hunt for more clues for how we can better know this branch of our family tree.
A wild and wicked past
Not only did the resiliency of my Great Grandfather’s history fuel my curiosity and ignite my respect but Alison told me she discovered her several times great Grandmother was Martha Carrier, a Puritan accused, convicted, and hanged in 1692 for reportedly being a witch during the Salem Witch Trails! Pure craziness! 19 years after Martha’s death the Massachusetts government awarded her family 7 pounds and 6 shillings and reversed the conviction. So humbling!
Martha – along with 19 others are recognized at Salem’s Witch Trials Memorial. I’ve only been to Salem once — on a dark 1990s Halloween’s Eve no doubt. Should my feet adventure to this part of America again, I’ll make sure and visit the memorial site which honors the past by perpetuating the unwavering commitment to social justice.
So what does all this have to do with special baked chicken? Well, quite a lot! Had Alison not sent me the almost-forgotten recipe we likely wouldn’t have dove deep into our family’s roots … or found a dish I hope to meet and eat again! Along the way we shared, learned, laughed, *and gasped* at what we discovered.
The point of all of this is know your family. Not just your nuclear family but as much of where you’ve came from that you can discover! And food is a wonderful way to connect and share the best of family along the way.
On to the most special baked chicken recipe I know!
❤ Apparently sliced dried beef is super salty and we forgot to run water over it per the instructions. I’d suggest following this step!
❤ Lover of the dried beef, are you? Well, you’re not alone. While one of my Nieces hates dried beef (a.k.a. chipped beef) with a passion she does hold a high regard for its historical significance. Check out this other BCN recipe where we explore another way to fashion dried beef into a, ahem, culinary delicacy.
❤ Of special note: My Mom advised this recipe can be delayed in a “slower oven” if guests are late.
3 ounce package | sliced dried beef
3 large | chicken breasts, skinned, boned and halved
6 slices | bacon
to sprinkle | fresh rosemary, chopped
1 can | mushroom soup
1 cup | sour cream
ii. What to do
0. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
1. Run cold water over the dried beef. Dry then place the beef in a 12” x 8” x 2” baking dish.
2. Place the prepared chicken breasts on top of the beef.
4. While the meats are cooking combine the mushroom soup and the sour cream. When “time’s up” on the chicken pour the sour cream mixture over the chicken and continue baking 40-50 minutes at 350°F. Baste here and there, making sure to not disrupt the layering of the chipped beef and the bacon.
Yields 4-6 servings.
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook
Shortly after reclaiming Mom’s cookbook and sharing the good news with my brothers (Tim and Roger), Roger asked if I had found the “S.O.S.” recipe. Funny, I had forgotten about chipped beef until he mentioned it!
Roger said Dad would make S.O.S. for us kids when Mom (Betty) was in stenography class (she was studying to become a successful court reporter. And she became just that)!
While Mom’s recipe below calls for toasted hamburger buns, I also remember Dad topping mere pieces of white toast with the creamy mixture. Super simple S.O.S.
Roger sent me this passage from his daughter Kim which taught me a thing or two about the history of this time honored dish:
“After reading the history of chipped beef and its relation to the military, I can understand why your Dad probably enjoyed making it. For Army soldiers, chipped beef was a favorite meal and for him it probably carried a lot of meaningful memories. For you, I can understand why you wanted us all to sit down as a family when we were kids and try it. Although we literally were in tears because of how bad it tasted, I can understand now why it had meaning for you. :)
Love ~ Kim”
While Kim didn’t find the Stouffer’s version of chipped beef terrifically tasty, I have to admit that after eating mom’s casserole, I’ll be giving it another go soon. I was surprised how great it tasted without my usual *mandatory ingredients* of salt and pepper.
1 can (16-17 oz.) | peas
1 cup | evaporated milk
¼ cup | butter
2 tablespoons | chopped onion
¼ cup | flour
1/2 teaspoon | paprika
1 teaspoon | prepared mustard (we prefer Jack Daniel’s mustard)
3 hamburger buns | split and toasted (we prefer seeded buns)
1 jar (2-1/2 oz.) | shredded dried beef
1 cup | grated American cheese
ii. what to do
0. Preheat oven to 375°F.
1. Drain pea juice into a 2-cup measuring cup then add enough water to make 1 cup of liquid.
2. Stir-in evaporated milk; set aside (reserve).
3. Melt the butter, add onion and cook together until tender, but not brown.
4. Blend-in flour, paprika and mustard.
5. Add the pea reserve and cook, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil and thickens.
6. To half of sauce add peas; spoon into a 10 x 6 inch baking dish.
8. Add beef to remaining sauce and spoon on top of buns.
9. Sprinkle with cheese. If your local store doesn’t offer American cheese, you can substitute a mild cheese, like Colby.
10. Bake at 375°F for 15-20 minutes.
Makes six 1970s portions, or two 2011 portions! Yeah!