Dutch Goose 101

As I shove the casserole dish into the oven, I notice the olive oil spray can, the top of the paper towel holder, knives, and a scissors all besmirched with sausage. When did stuffing a Dutch goose (euphemism for pig stomach) take so much time and effort? It seems my mother just sits on her stool in front of the sink, peels and dices potatoes, mixes them with sausage, fills the stomach cavity, and slips it into the oven. A few hours later she asks me to take it out, all done. Easy as that!

On my last visit to Pennsylvania, I bought chipped beef, a pig stomach (yes, the organ from a hog) from Groff’s Meats, and 7 1/2 pounds of ham loaf from Wenger’s Meats in Elizabethtown. Now at home I’ve thawed the pig stomach and am preparing it as a mystery dish for our daughter’s family. For future reference, I must assemble all the tools required: knives for dicing potatoes, darning needle, white thread, scissors before I begin. And start sooner, for goodness sake!

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Has anyone ever written out a recipe for pig stomach? I don’t know, but I’ve never seen Mother use one, so I call her mid-way in the process to ask for direction.

“How many potatoes should I use?”

“Oh, just however many you think.”

“Eight . . . ten . . . twelve?”

“Oh, it doesn’t matter. You can always put the left-overs in a casserole dish on the side,” so I see now it’s a guessing game.

No other dish I know off blends the culinary and sartorial arts so handily as filling a pig stomach, hence the needle and thread. To begin: the organ does have several orifices: intake, outgo, and a pyloric valve in there somewhere. This particular one has a tear, so I’ll have to stitch up 4 openings. Heaven forbid any of the sausage-potato stuffing leaks out. Mid-way through my first sew-up, I realize I’m stitching the large opening best suited for stuffing, so I have to undo it all, retracting thread through a gooey mess of fleshy tissue. Drat!

IMG_2714  Finally the dish is ready for the oven . . . almost! As I pre-heat the oven, I recall the end of my phone conversation with Mom:

“How long do you bake it?” I ask.

“Oh, whatever you think.” she says.

“Well, I don’t know what to think . . . 2 hours? 3 hours?”

“Just take a look at it, and when it’s golden brown on top and a little bit around the side, it’s done.”

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Using the convection feature on my oven part of the time, the baking time turns out to be about 2 1/2 hours and after “resting,” ready to serve.

After gobbling up his first serving, Patrick speaks up, “NaNa, this is as good as ham loaf! May I have some more?” Jenna joins in with yummy sounds. There are requests for more all around the table now, and I’m happy it’s a hit.

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Sustenance for the body, that it is. But more than that, it has occurred to me, we are experiencing what always happens when family gets together: stuffing memories into the space of our hearts as well.

So, I’ll do it all again with our son’s family after my next trip north when I visit Groff’s. Incidentally, Groff’s Meats has begun selling pig stomachs already filled for the princely sum of $ 15.00.

I have to say, I’d charge $ 25.00, more if I have to re-stitch!

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 ã Marian Beaman

Mom’s Kitchen: Pig Stomach and Easter Eggs

My Mother loved her kitchen with a spiritual passion and was happiest at the altar of her stove, cooking or baking. We’d hear her off-key voice singing “Heavenly Sunlight” or “Keep on the Sunny Side” as she fixed breakfast while we dressed and braided our hair for school.

Her mother, Sadie Landis Metzler, died when she was nine, so Ruth, the oldest daughter of six, was the mini-mom milking cows and peeling potatoes before she went to school. Later, she was hired out to help another farm wife, who taught her to cook, instilling a love for fresh or home-canned ingredients with PA Dutch recipes.

Mom and Pig’s Stomach

These days when I fly home from Florida, we make a feast of her famous homemade soups (vegetable & chicken corn) and other dishes, including pig stomach. It sounds horrible, like goose liver or pickled pig’s feet, but it’s considered a delicacy at her house.

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There are other names for this dish: hog maw, Dutch goose—but pig stomach is the name we grew up with. Basically, a nicely rinsed stomach from a pig is stuffed with a pound of sausage, 8 large diced potatoes, some onion, and sprigs of parsley cut up in tiny pieces, then all ingredients oven-roasted.

MomPigStomach     MarkPigStomach

Mom’s stand-by side dish is peas & carrots for color, celery in season, and something fruity for dessert like her gelatin fruit salad, a recipe passed around among the relatives.

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Her Salmon Casserole is also a favorite at her table. There are variations of this recipe in Mennonite Community Cookbook by Mary Emma Showalter. Scottdale, PA: The Mennonite Community Association, 1972 (16th printing). My Mom’s own recipe is quick and hearty.

 

2010_Mother Longenecker_Baking Salmon Loaf_6x4_300Salmon Casserole: Ingredients:

1 can red salmon

1 pack or more of saltine crackers, crumbled

butter, 3 – 4 pats

2 cups milk

Snipple up (break into small pieces) salmon from the can. Place a layer of crushed cracker crumbs on the bottom of a greased 2-3 quart casserole. Alternate layers of salmon with crumbled crackers, adding a little salt and pepper as you go. Add milk. “Top off with a few hunks of butter,” she says.

Bake about an hour at 350 degrees.

 

Chocolate-covered  Eggs: Peanut Butter and Coconut, a treat every Easter in the 50s

Peanut Butter Eggs

1 lb. butter + 2 lbs. peanut butter  + 3 lbs. 10x sugar  Mix ingredients together and form into egg shapes, about 1 1/2 inches diameter.

Coconut Cream Eggs

1/4 lb. butter + 8 oz. cream cheese + 2 lbs.10x sugar + coconut to taste (8 oz. bag) Follow instructions above.

Coating: l lb. of semi-sweet chocolate melted. Mother would melt a pound of semi-sweet chocolate by sinking a cup of chocolate into a pan of boiling water; you may want to use something more up-to-date like a double boiler for the melting process. As the chocolate melted, she shredded in some paraffin for a glossy finish to the coating.

Mom made the candies by resting each egg on a fork, dipping it into the chocolate, and then using a knife to scrape the drippy chocolate off the bottom of the egg. Pure heaven!

What family favorites do you associate with a particular holiday? How have you adapted the recipes to your own table?

© Marian Beaman