Unusual family recipes


When I was active on Chowhound, one of my favorite threads was about meals people’s families cooked that seemed normal until they got out into the world, and found that not everyone made, for example, liver baked with garlic and sour cream (a recipe from a long ago boyfriend). Did you grow up eating something that you assumed was common until you found out it wasn’t?
If some of these overlap with my recent father’s specialities post, we can do a Venn diagram!



I love these 2 topics.


(Jimmy ) #3

I’d have to offer Corned Beef & Cabbage. Never realized how many people dislike the odor of cabbage boiling on the stovetop.


(Evelyn C. Leeper) #4

My mother’s heritage was Eastern European Jewish; my father was Puerto Rican. In my house gefilte fish with rice and beans was a perfectly reasonable meal. Oddly enough, I’ve never found anyone outside my immediate family who thought so.

The other odd dish we ate was a Puerto Rican-inspired spaghetti sauce. It has very little tomato (8 ounces of tomato sauce for a pound of ground beef) and is a bit more watery than people like, but includes alcaparrado (a Puerto Rican ingredient consisting of capers and sliced stuffed olives in vinegar). My father and brother also loved it; I used to make it for my father after my mother died. I have no idea where my mother got the recipe. (I made sure my brother had the recipe; one thing about these family recipes is that they can disappear if they aren’t preserved.) I remember the first time I had spaghetti in a restaurant (at age 8) and was quite taken aback by the extremely unfamiliar dish in front of me!


(Gwenn) #5

That is hysterical. Love it.

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(Gwenn) #6

Also jewish/eastern european heritage and our big thing was “potted” anything. Potted chicken, potted meatballs. Of course brisket - aka pot roast. Once in a while grandma would “pot” a steak. Potted chicken was great - basically it’s a braise and the chicken is so tender and falling off the bone. But she’d put the meatballs in with it.


(Denise) #7

Here’s one: All meat and poultry we ate while I was growing up in underwent koshering, or soaking and salting. And my family is not Jewish. As a teenager, my grandmother lived and worked in a Jewish household that kept kosher and that’s where she learned.

It wasn’t until my own teen years that I knew this preparation didn’t happen in every household.

Years later brining became a thing.


(Denise) #8

Minus the spaghetti, this dish doesn’t sound too far off from picadillo to me (which I love). I wonder if that might have been the inspiration somewhere along the line?



It doesn’t have to…if you dont add the cannage until the last 15-20 minutes, you dont get the smell, and the cabbage is crisp-tender and sweet, rather than grey, bitter mush.

Was taught this by an Irish lady some years ago.



Same here…my thought was, huh, I never thought about putting picadillo over spaghetti!

Probably good!


(Evelyn C. Leeper) #11

It does sound like it may have started as picadillo, but then the raisins and a lot of the herbs and spices got dropped. (My mother had a very minimal set of seasonings and thyme, cumin, bay leaf, and allspice were definitely not in it.)

I suspect at this point I would probably not like authentic picadillo as much as what I’m used to, but I would definitely try it.


(erica) #12

I have posted about this before. My mother made a lamb and lima bean soup the origin of which remains shrouded in the mists. I grew up with it and when I was in college, asked her about its provenance. She didn’t know. She was a manicurist and said that in the 1940’s, when she had a bad cold, one of her customers brought her a container of it. Mom never had a written recipe. I don’t know whether or not what she made was a faithful recreation. She told me how to make it and I do it without measuring as well. My only tweaks are to add garlic, and Gravy Master for color, because otherwise the broth is unappealingly pale.

In a Dutch oven, sear a lamb shank. Sweat chopped onion and garlic in the lamb fat, cover with water. Add a one pound bag of large dried lima beans, unsoaked, and a couple of bay leaves. Simmer for an hour, covered. Then add sliced celery and carrots and continue simmering, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender and the meat is falling off the bone. At least some of the beans will have split. You want this, to thicken the soup.
Add Gravy Master to desired color, and S&P to taste. The finished soup should not be VERY thick, because it will continue.to thicken as it cools and leftovers will be too thick. Pull the meat from the bone and return bite-sized pieces to the soup. This is a perfect winter meal.


(equal opportunity eater in the NC Triangle) #13

Sounds a little picadillo-ish.

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The ingredients and seasonings are not far from a classic French lamb and bean dish. Your version seems to be more soup than stew but you will see similarities and perhaps a distant root of your soup.


It’s indeed a perfect winter meal.

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Wow…for me potted anything was a standard by which all of the balbostas were measured.
For us it was chicken fricassee with little meatballs and of course chicken feet. When I went to a friend’s house for Shabbat diner, I asked his dad as we are eating matzo ball soup… does he like the feet ? His father asked whose feet?..I said the chicken’s…He replied very graciously that my friend’s bube liked feet but that he did not, so they never ate it in their home.

Fast forward some 30 years, I had this same friend over for the Jewish New Year, and Mrs. Phreddy made chicken soup with feet from a fresh killed Kosher chicken…

My buddy tried the feet…he loved them and said “if my father was here, he would leave the table”…
I always thought everyone loved chicken feet in stew or soup!



That looks like something from Halloween! But my father always kept pickled pig’s feet in the refrigerator when we were kids.



AS a toddler, I LOVED pickled pig’s feet. My father thought it was a great joke to share them with me. Wilson’s brand, as I remember. I still love sour head cheese.


(Santa Rosa, California) #18

My father always accused my mother of making “hamburger banana pie” and “potato poopies” :rofl:

Fortunately my mother had a great sense of humor.


(Andrea) #19

Pie for breakfast. Like on a school day, totally acceptable.


(equal opportunity eater in the NC Triangle) #20

Seems more nutritious than jam on toast since there’s more fruit!

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