KIMBALL, Neb. – When I checked in with the interwebs the other day I noticed that a favorite content producer of mine had just uploaded a video to the big, ginormous interweb video service. You know the one -- name begins with ‘wye’ and ends with ‘oob.” I’m being a bit cautious here because the service is a bit of a loose cannon when it comes to flinging lawsuits about. They’ve apparently got more money than god and their legal team feels underappreciated. But I digress. Anyway, the content producer is called Emmy. She’s a young mom living in Rhode Island and her ‘channel’ on the interwebs is one of those so-called viral phenomena. She does a lot of recipes and food tastings, and I really enjoy her work. Among the things she demonstrates on her channel, she does ‘retro’ recipes from way back in the 50’s and 60’s. This week she did one from a 1967 vintage cookbook called “The Poll-Ette Hostess.” If I understand the story, the Poll-Ettes were the ladies branch of the Polled Hereford Association here in the U.S. As many of you doubtless know, ladies’ organizations have produced cookbooks for years, and the Poll-Ettes were no exception. They seem to have revised and published a number of cookbooks throughout the 60’s and 70’s. But again, I digress. The recipe Emmy prepared was – get this – Roast Beef Fudge. Well, I had to give it a try after watching Emmy’s video and reading a blog post on the topic. Unsurprisingly, at least to me, it turned out to be both easy to make and delicious. One of the first steps of the recipe is to bring sugar, butter, and evaporated milk to a boil, then cook until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage at about 230 degrees. Now here’s an interesting sciency tidbit. If you’ve ever made candy, you’ve probably noticed that the temperature will quickly rise to boiling, but then it seems to stick there at the boiling point forever. This is because the liquid water in the mixture cannot exceed its boiling point (212 degrees at sea level) at normal atmospheric pressure. Once the water boils off (most of it anyway) the temperature will begin to rise again and the mixture will quickly reach (or exceed) your target temperature. The recipe says to bring the mixture to soft ball stage, remove from the heat, and then stir in chocolate, marshmallow, vanilla, and – finally – roast beef. The hot, sugary mixture retains more than enough heat to melt the chocolate and marshmallow. As for the beef, the recipe calls for a cup of ground up roast beef. I ground mine in the food processor and that worked fine. The beef came from a top round roast I’d prepared earlier to make sandwiches with. So, winner-winner, roast beef dinner. I have to admit that I was a bit curious about whether I’d like this fudge or not. I’m not big on desserts and sugary stuff, and overly sweet things tend to put me off. Adding roast beef to fudge seemed to be a bit of a stretch, and I thought I might not find it palatable at all. As it turned out though, Emmy was right. The fudge is sweet, but not overly sweet (in small doses anyway), and the beef seems to add texture and savor without adding a strong beefy flavor. Or, to be honest, any beefy flavor at all. Odd, but it seems to work. The addition of beef also adds protein and vitamins to the fudge. There are certainly easier ways to get protein and vitamins into your diet, but that doesn’t mean that this fudge recipe doesn’t bring them to the table. Finally, I think it’s really interesting and charming that young people all over the world are rediscovering these ‘ancient’ recipes from a half-century ago. We did the same thing when we were their age, and in a time when people seem to be frightened of the way things seem to change so rapidly these days, it’s nice to be reminded that people are still people, and there’s nothing new under the sun.
Here’s the recipe:
Roast Beef Fudge
Author: Mrs. Florence E. Weist - Poll-Ette Hostess Cookbook, 1967 Serves: 50 small squares
Ingredients ½ lb (2 sticks) butter 1 large can of evaporated milk 4 cups sugar 12 oz chocolate chips 2 cups marshmallow fluff 2 teaspoons vanilla 1 cup cooked ground roast beef Instructions: Cook butter, milk and sugar to soft ball stage (about 230 degrees), stirring often. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips and marshmallow fluff until melted. Stir in vanilla and ground beef roast. Beat until firm and pour into a well-greased 9x13 pan.