Vintage Kitchen: Hobotee from Charleston Receipts


STEPHANIE BURT (this article was first published in October 2012)

 

    Hobotee, a hearty 1950s dish from Charleston, South Carolina. Image courtesy of Leslie McKellar.

Hobotee, a hearty 1950s dish from Charleston, South Carolina. Image courtesy of Leslie McKellar.

I am a home cook and sometimes food-writer who would rather read about the history of Carolina Gold rice than get immersed in the latest mystery novel. I have a little kitchen that occasionally cranks out the “big” meal, but for the most part, it serves as the backdrop for weeknight meals and pick ups and leftovers warmed up on the stove.

However, I am willing to experiment in the kitchen, and sometimes the results are delicious, and well – sometimes you just cannot substitute yogurt for sour cream just because you don’t want to go to the store and are in the mood to cook.

I have a collection of cookbooks that inspire me to tackle something new, and most on the shelf are those spiral-bound types from churches and bazaars and Junior Leagues all over the South. They are democratic; everyone who submits a recipe gets published. And they are quirky, with recipes ranging from 7-Up Cake to Recipes for a Happy Home (2 cups of kindness, dash of patience, etc.).

For my first recipe for the Vintage Kitchen, I wanted to choose something iconic from my vintage copy of the well-known Charleston Receipts, paying homage to the home that I love so much. I landed on Hobotee, a curried beef bread pudding dish that got a little attention last year through Teresa Taylor at The Post and Courier.

Image courtesy of Leslie McKellar.

Image courtesy of Leslie McKellar.

Hobotee, Charleston Receipts, 1958 (Original Version)

  • 2 pounds meat
  • 2 onions
  • Large slice of bread
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 dessertspoon sugar
  • Juice of lemon or 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 6-8 almonds, chopped, or ½ cup coconut
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil

Mince the meat, soak break in milk and squeeze dry.

Fry chopped onion in oil and when nicely browned sprinkle in curry powder and cook for a few minutes, being careful not to burn.

Mix all ingredients with minced meat and bread, adding 1 egg. Whisk up other egg with milk, and after putting curry mixture in greased cups, pour some of this over it, sticking a slice of lemon or bay leaf into each little cup.

Bake for 30 minutes and serve (in cups) with rice and chutney. May be baked in a casserole and any left over meat may be used instead of fresh. Cook in moderate oven.

Serves 8.

From: Mrs. Richard C. Mullin (Hasell Townsend)

Hobotee has its origins, obviously, in the spice trade and the fact that Charleston was a bustling port. This beef bread pudding was traditionally served as a first course to a seafood meal, and legend has that it was a real plantation classic.

Beef bread pudding is a long way from our modern palates, and I needed to convince friends to join me at the dinner table. In the end, I decided to omit what we’d be eating and instead just said, “Come over.” I have good friends – they did. And despite it looking a bit gray and unappetizing on the plate – it looked like a beef bread pudding — we loved the combination of the crunchy, slivered almonds with the soft curried beef. But it was extremely filling. This was definitely main dish material and there is no way I could eat a seafood course following it.

What follows is my updated version of this 1958 recipe. I’ve left the original ingredients, but added notes in parenthesis.

Hobotee, Vintage Kitchen translation, Charleston Receipts, 1958 (Updated Version)

  • 2 pounds meat (good quality shredded beef, or chipped beef. Don’t use cubes.)
  • 2 onions (chopped)
  • Large slice of bread (I used a fresh French white loaf, and went with a little more here, closer to two fresh rolls or three pieces of bread)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 dessertspoon sugar (our modern bread has sugar, and this amount was so little that I omitted it)
  • Juice of lemon or 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 6-8 almonds, chopped, or ½ cup coconut (1/2  c. slivered almonds)
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
Image courtesy of Leslie McKellar.

Image courtesy of Leslie McKellar.

Mince the meat, soak break in milk and squeeze dry.

Image courtesy of Leslie McKellar.

Image courtesy of Leslie McKellar.

Fry chopped onion in oil and when nicely browned sprinkle in curry powder and cook for a few minutes, being careful not to burn.

Mix all ingredients with minced meat and bread, adding 1 egg. Whisk up other egg with milk, and after putting curry mixture in greased cups, pour some of this over it, sticking a slice of lemon or bay leaf into each little cup.

Image courtesy of Leslie McKellar

Image courtesy of Leslie McKellar

Bake for 30 minutes and serve (in cups) with rice and chutney. May be baked in a casserole and any left over meat may be used instead of fresh (I totally went with the casserole dish option, family style. We were not trying to impress our bridge group.). Cook in moderate oven (350 degrees).

Image courtesy of Leslie McKellar

Image courtesy of Leslie McKellar

Serves 8. From: Mrs. Richard C. Mullin (Hasell Townsend)

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2 thoughts on “Vintage Kitchen: Hobotee from Charleston Receipts

  1. Pingback: Drink Like the Revolutionaries: Vintage Punch for the Fourth of July |

  2. Pingback: Vintage Kitchen: Cardamom Sour Cream Pound Cake with Burnt Sugar Ice Cream |

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