Saturday, January 20, 2007

"The Camp Lejeune Platter Parade" - Oven Meal (a/k/a Six layer dinner)

Date I made this recipe: January 17, 2007

The Camp Lejeune Platter Parade by the Officers’ Wives Club, Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Published by the Officers’ Wives Club
© 1954
Recipe: Oven Meal (Six layer dinner) – p. 57

I was listening to The Splendid Table the other day on Minnesota Public Radio, hosted by Lynne Rossetto Kasper, while she was doing her segment, Stump the Cook. During Stump the Cook, contestants call in and tell Lynne three ingredients they have in their refrigerator that they want Lynne to incorporate into a dish.

This week’s cookbook recipe was selected because it too, used up ingredients in my refrigerator that were nearing their “toss by” date: green and red peppers and celery, as well as potatoes and onion on the verge of going bad in my pantry. So when I came upon a recipe called Oven Meal (Six layer dinner) in the cookbook, The Camp Lejeune Platter Parade, I knew I had my meal.

Besides the fact that the recipe used up my ingredients, I loved the name Platter Parade (as appears on the spine) and I liked that it was written in 1954 by Marine Corp wives and even some Marines (and commanders) themselves. My dad was a member of the 4th Marines during WWII. He was initially sent to Parris Island, SC (Camp Lejeune is in North Carolina) and then to Maui, Hawaii (well before it was resort central) before going to Iwo Jima where he was wounded in action and received the Purple Heart. My dad’s 83rd birthday is coming up this week so I made this in his honor.

Now, the first day I had this dish, I thought it tasted bland (and indeed, there are no spices except salt and pepper in this dish), but the leftovers were much more flavorful. You might want to experiment by adding a little something to the dish (garlic salt, perhaps) but I made it according to regulations. Don’t want to spend any time in the brig, you know!

Oven Meal (Six layer dinner) – recipe submitted by Mrs. William L. Robbins
2 cups raw diced potatoes
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups raw hamburger
1 cup fine chopped green pepper
2 cups canned tomatoes
1 cup raw sliced onions (note: these will get crispy on you)
Salt and pepper to taste

Place ingredients in baking dish in order given. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 1 ½ hours in moderate over (375). Serves 6.

Note: I wasn’t sure what “canned tomatoes” should look like so I pureed canned, whole tomatoes in my Cuisinart before adding them to the casserole. If I were to do this again, I think I would pulse them just a bit longer to make more of a tomato sauce rather than semi-chunky tomatoes but do what feels comfortable.

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