I know this isn’t the first Monday of this month–it’s not even a Monday!– but what better way to kick off a blog than a fun menu from 1940?
On the first Monday of every month, I’ll be cooking an entire meal based on either a published menu or recipes from 1940-1945. This month it’s a summer lawn party from the Wyandotte County Gas Company’s 1940 cook book. Just so you know, Wyandotte County is in the eastern part of Kansas and includes Kansas City.
Summer Lawn Party
The star of the menu is a spiced chicken baked in a mustard-based sauce. Add some yummy torpedo rolls, corn on the cob, and a crisp salad to round the meal out. Pour yourself a refreshing glass of iced tea, and finish things off with a slice of spiced blueberry pie.
I was a little surprised that this chicken recipe was suggested for a lawn party. I usually try to find foods that are easy to eat while standing and chatting, and this didn’t seem to fit the bill. With the sauce you’d definitely need a napkin, and a knife and fork to cut the meat into manageable bites. That’d eliminate the portability, and it just seems messy. I was intrigued by the mustard, horseradish, and brown sugar combo in the sauce, though. We made a few adjustments to both the menu and the recipes as we went, but tried to keep the recipes as close as possible to the 1940 version. My daughter Addison helped me cook this month.
Let’s start with the chicken.
The spiced chicken called for a whole chicken cut up for frying, but we used chicken breasts because that’s what our family prefers. We pounded the chicken breasts flat with a mallet to help ensure they cooked all the way through. The recipe said to dredge in flour and seasonings, but didn’t specify which seasonings. We used 2.5 cups of flour with 2 tablespoons garlic pepper. We placed the flour coated breasts in a baking pan and moved on to the sauce.
1/2 c. prepared mustard
1/2 c. prepared horseradish
1/2 small box of Mexican Chili powder
1 c. vinegar
1/2 c. brown sugar
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp salt
1 garlic clove
We used 1 tablespoon chili powder and added some extra garlic. We like our garlic! We mixed everything together and spread it evenly over the chicken breasts. We baked it at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. When it was done, we placed each breast on a bed of rice as the recipe suggested, and covered it with more of the sauce from the baking dish.
The Torpedo Rolls recipe called for using your favorite roll dough, and gave instructions of how to start the rolls before adding the “torpedos”. We took a short cut and used pre-made dough already shaped into rolls. We pressed holes halfway down into each roll and added a dollop of wild plum jelly that Addison canned last year with plums from our ranch. Then we followed the cooking instructions on the package. Using pre-made dough made easy work of this recipe.
Spiced Blueberry Pie
We felt the spiced blueberry pie recipe had a mistake somewhere in it. We followed it exactly and got a pie that just didn’t work. We tweaked the recipe and baked a new pie. You can read about the pie here: Spiced Blueberry Pie
The chicken was much more flavorful than I had expected. The dish had a very strong mustard aroma, and that made a few members of our dinner party question whether they’d like it or not. The sauce was tangy and very similar to honey mustard. The chicken was tender and juicy and there was enough sauce to add a bigger kick if needed. We added enough garlic that it gave the sauce added texture that you can see in the photos. The rice helped ease the bite of the sauce. I served this to a combination of 8 adults and children and only one person disliked it, mainly because she doesn’t like mustard.
The torpedo rolls were fun and well liked. The jam added a sweet touch and the rolls were soft and moist. The jelly was a little firmer than it had started out, but I liked the thicker texture. I’d like to try these in combination with other kinds of jam or jelly. Next time we might make these from scratch, but our shortcut worked well and proved to be a quick addition to our meal. I also liked the sweetness of the jelly mixed with the tangy kick of the sauce. I can see these being a versatile, easy side for a variety of meals, or even for a quick after school snack.
As for the menu being for a lawn party, I think it’d work best for any get together where there was ample seating and table space. This could very well be an outside event, but a place to sit would be a must. Cutting the chicken into bite sized pieces before the party could help it become more manageable. The recipe did call for a full chicken, and while drumsticks would also be more portable, the sauce would still be messy.
The menu makes for a nice summer meal that I would serve again.