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Pigs in the Poke

January 9, 2009

I know hot dogs prepared at home are not usually fodder for The Blog, but this novel recipe, with its somewhat raunchy-sounding name, has to be the exception to the rule. “Pigs in the Poke,” undoubtedly inspired by the classic pigs in blankets, weds the frankfurter with the popover – a marriage made in heaven.

The recipe, which my mom passed along to me, is from Cooking Fun: 121 Simple Recipes to Make with Kids by Rae Grant. Ms. Grant may or may not have been aware of the origin of the phrase “pig in a poke.” According to Wikipedia, “Pig-in-a-poke is an idiom that refers to a confidence trick originating in the Late Middle Ages, when meat was scarce but apparently rats and cats were not.” Back in the day, folks used to buy live suckling pigs in bags known as “pokes.” However, disreputable merchants would put other animals (rats, cats) in the poke instead of a pig. Foolhardy consumers sometimes wouldn’t open the poke to check that it actually contained a pig – caveat emptor.

Pigs in the Poke

Here, the giant popover cloaks the slices of hot dog, much like a swine hidden in a burlap sack. I used three Trader Joe’s all-beef dogs and one Applegate Farms turkey dog (thank god those turkey dogs are gone). Unfortunately I was a bit slow with the camera, so the popover deflated a bit before I took the above picture. Here’s a detail of a hot dog piece that rose to the top, poking through the popover:

Poke 2

Served with a gnome-mug of baked beans (as recommended by Ms. Grant), grated sharp cheddar (my idea), and a side of broccoli rabe (I must take credit for forgetting to add water to the pan, resulting in a burned, rather than steamed, veggie (my first-ever cooking mishap)):


The evaluation: quite delicious, definitely worth a repeat. The popover truly enhanced the hot dog experience. Don’t get me wrong, I like a traditional bun, but the popover was an interesting variation: moist and eggy on the inside, and crispy on the outside, especially the corners. The recipe suggested cutting the dogs into quarters, but I opted for smaller slices to accommodate my dainty eating style. Trader Joe’s dogs are simple and no-nonsense, yet tasty and reliable. Probably my favorite grocery-store dog.

Still, there’s something odd about eating a hot dog departed from its original form – kind of like the SpaghettiOs with “sliced franks.” Next time I’m going to leave my encased meat properly encased.

(For the record, I don’t want to jeopardize the future of The Blog by violating copyright laws and posting Ms. Grant’s recipe here. However, I can safely say that any popover batter will do – just pour it over some chopped hot dogs in a baking pan, and throw it in the oven until the popover rises.)

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