Sunday, April 29, 2007

"Dine In Route 66 Cookbook" - Scenic Salisbury Steak

Date I made this recipe: April 25, 2007

Dine In Route 66 Cookbook distributed by Smith-Southwestern Inc.
Published by Terrell Publishing Co.
© 1996

Recipe: Scenic Salisbury Steak – p. 24

If you’re been reading my blog so far (which you’ve all been doing, right?), you’ll know that I tend to have a story for everything and they tend to be a little long in the telling, but hopefully always interesting. So let’s get to “How I chose a Route 66 recipe.”

I don’t think I’ve mentioned that I’ve been a proud member of the Calhoun-Isles Community Band for 14 years now ( but I have. I play the clarinet (or so some say…I didn’t learn how to play the instrument until 16 years ago), have sometimes played my alto saxophone (which I learned how to play 14 years ago) and most recently have been a vocalist for a small off-shoot group, the Calhoun-Isles Dixieland Jazz Combo. The Dixieland group performs at what would be the intermission portion of our band concerts (the whole band is 60 members strong and growing) to give a break to the rest of our players. Of course, we don’t get a break but that’s beside the point.

So anyway…I started out singing old Dixieland tunes such as Basin Street Blues, Tin Roof Blues, When My Sugar Walks Down the Street, and then we added some Gershwin favorites such as Summertime, The Man I Love and The Lady is A Tramp. And we had, and continue to have, a great time doing this.

This year, though, our conductor wanted to find some pieces for me to do with the entire ensemble, not just the eight people in the Dixieland Combo, and so he found a couple of pieces to try out. One song, But Not For Me, was written for the entire band with either solo voice or solo clarinet and so that worked out just great. But the other piece is more of a challenge. We’re playing musical selections from the movie, Cars, and are trying to figure out if vocals will even work with it because it’s not written for vocal accompaniment.

One of the tunes featured on the Cars soundtrack is Route 66. Just a hint, but this is where you should have had an “Ah ha” moment as to why I cooked out of a Route 66 cookbook.

But before we get to the book, let me tell you about the song. Route 66 was written by Bobby Troup who, with his wife, Julie London, a fabulous torch singer from the 50’s and 60’s, both starred in the TV show Emergency which ran from 1972 to 1978. Bobby played Dr. Joe Early, his wife played Nurse Dixie McCall (I just loved that name!) and who could forget hunky Randolph Mantooth as Firefighter John Gage? At any rate, I was addicted to this show and even toyed with becoming Dixie McCall (the nurse, not the actress) when I grew up, a hilarious thought given I just don’t have any aptitude for science, which is why I became any attorney, but that’s another story.

So the fact that I watched the TV show and later learned that Bobby wrote the song made me want to make a Route 66 dish shortly after our Tuesday night band rehearsal where we tried out the medley for the first time. Singing along to Route 66 would probably be okay, singing along to Our Town by James Taylor (from the soundtrack) is possible but somehow I can’t see myself, nor could my band, singing Life Is A Highway, (also from the soundtrack) by the band Rascal Flatts. When our conductor mentioned it, everybody, including me, started howling. It’s a hip piece for a traditional concert band to play and I’m thinking that at the very least, I’d need a wardrobe change to something more rock oriented, but we’ll see how it goes.

Getting back to Julie, Bobby and Randolph, I should mention that I do not have a Julie London CD nor did Julie London ever record her husband’s hit (go figure), but I do have a version of Route 66 sung by the late Rosemary Clooney who many of us will remember, not for her singing (which was great) but because she was George Clooney’s aunt. And how fitting is it that George went on to star in the TV show ER, another doctor/emergency team TV show? Too bad the hospital wasn’t located on Route 66. But anyway….

The second reason I wanted to make this dish was because Route 66, as you learn in the lyrics, goes through Gallup, New Mexico and my brother and sister-in-law, both physicians, worked in Gallup for several years. (“You see Amarillo, Gallup, New Mexico…”) I’m pretty sure I bought this cookbook when I visited them one Christmas. (And by the by, somebody could have warned me in advance that Gallup is in the mountains and therefore was NOT the balmy 60ish degree weather I was hoping for. I know my cook books but geography is another story).

And so, between Bobby Troup and Gallup, New Mexico, I was all pumped up to make this recipe and I’m glad I did. It gave me the comfort food component of days gone by and made me think of all the family vacations we made along Route 66 when I was a kid, in an un-air conditioned car (too expensive back then) checking out all the mom and pop places along the way. I did indeed, “get my kicks on Route 66.”

Scenic Salisbury Steak

1 ½ pounds ground beef
1 ½ tablespoons finely chopped onion
¼ cup bread crumbs
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 can cream of mushroom soup
¼ cup mayonnaise
½ soup can water
1 small onion, sliced
¼ cup chopped green pepper
10 whole mushrooms, sliced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 large carrot, shredded

Mix together ground beef, chopped onion, bread crumbs, pepper, egg and milk. Form into patties and brown on both sides in a skillet. Mix together soup, mayonnaise and water until smooth. Pour soup mixture over the patties to coat them well. Place onion, green pepper, mushrooms and tomatoes on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Turn patties over and baste patties; cook 30 minutes more.

Now, if you read through what I just typed, you’ll notice, as did I went making this recipe, that they don’t tell you want to do with the shredded carrot. It was only after careful examination of the accompanying photo that I realized it should have gone on top of the patties along with the sliced onion, green pepper, mushrooms and tomatoes. I left it off and the recipe survived just fine without it.

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