By establishing the Lee Brothers Library series with Rizzoli, brothers Matt Lee and Ted Lee have been able to bring what may be the first of many culinary jewels back into print, Pamela Strobel’s 1969 cookbook. Laced with Strobel’s poetry and seasoned with her life story, it is, as the reading line says, a must-have "Mouth-Watering Treasury of Afro-American Recipes."
Having tested all of the recipes in Strobel’s book, Matt Lee writes the following about the Pork Spoon Bread below: “This recipe exemplifies many of the ways in which, via the editor’s notes, we were able to usher a wonderful recipe into a new century, by correcting for publishing prejudices of the 1960s (which served to minimize seasonings like onion, pepper and sage) and to clarify a few unsaid things, like the size of the casserole pan that works best. In testing, we discovered that the steps can be optimized if the milk is added simultaneously with the cornmeal, but we left the original phrasing of her recipe steps intact — for verisimilitude and out of respect, because her recipe language in this book is so distinct, like a work of art in itself, beautifully light and reassuring. Together with Strobel's words of poetry, wit and wisdom, her gifted language carries the entire cookbook."
Her poem for this recipe::
“Fresh pork sausages like a sweet prayer.
It may no bring you anythin’
But it makes everythin’ bad
A mite easier
Pork Spoon Bread
1 pound ground pork
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground sage
No. 1 can of tomatoes (2 cups)
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 tablespoon minced celery
¾ cup yellow corn meal
1 cup milk
3 eggs, well beaten
Place the ground pork in frying pan and break up with a fork. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and sage and mix well. Fry until brown and cooked throughout. Drain off the fat and reserve. Combine tomatoes, onion and celery in saucepan and let boil for several minutes. Gradually stir in corn meal.* Cook until thick, stirring constantly. Stir in the milk and heat through. Combine the beaten egg with the pork, ¼ cup** of the reserved fat, and the corn meal mixture. Turn into a casserole*** and bake at 375 degrees for about 45 to 50 minutes.****
EDITORS’ NOTES: Triple celery and sage; double onion and pepper; use ½ teaspoon more salt.
*Add the milk with the corn meal, and add more if necessary.
**Ground pork these days is super lean, so use bacon drippings or vegetable oil to make up the difference.
***A 9-by-11-inch casserole.
****Consider topping with shredded cheese 15 minutes before completion.
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