Yep, Pigs in Blanket. I know, I know.
As a private chef I’ve been called on to make all manner of foods in every conceivable style. I can make fancy food, subtle food, robust food, elegant food, home-style food, rarefied food, rustic food. I’ve cooked dishes from dozens of different cuisines: Italian, Mexican, Romanian, Vietnamese, Japanese, Moroccan, Brazilian, Cuban, Swedish, Austrian, English, Russian, Southern American, Southwestern, and Indian just to start the conversation. I’ve done a little of everything and lots of a few things.
From this you might get the impression that the rich eat like this everyday — frais de bois for breakfast, foie gras terrine for lunch, and wagyu filet mignon beef welly for dinner, perhaps. And while it’s certainly tempting if you’ve got a guy like me cooking your meals for you to indulge every fantastic whim (pancetta-wrapped lobster corn dogs!) more often than not people are just people. And people’s tastes are varied and frequently mood-based.
When you cook in a person’s home you see them intimately in moments private and fragile and unguarded. Usually in such moments people lean toward the simple, the familiar, the comforting. Split pea soup, a grilled cheese, hummous and pita, an egg salad sandwich, and sometimes, occasionally, things like Pigs in Blanket.
Pigs in Blanket is something I probably ate as a kid a dozen times max. Neither of my parents ever made it that I recall. It’s not something I really remember enjoying; maybe it was already outdated by the time I became cognizant of social hors d’oeuvres. So a few years ago, when I was first asked to make Pigs in Blanket, the blank look (masking a mild disdain) probably showed my ignorance. I actually had to look up several recipes old and new for Pigs in Blanket.
|Don’t the piggies look all snuggly in their blankets?|
I’ve made them a hundred times in the intervening years, and during those years I’ve grown to like them quite a lot. So simple they’re stupid. So chock-full of preservatives it should be criminal. But so flavorful and fun! They’re hardly haute cuisine, and there’s nothing remotely healthy about Pigs in Blanket, but as a little, old-timey appetizer for kids (or childlike adults), they are perfect in a time-machine way.
Cast your mind back to a time before everyone was consumed by fad dieting, by calorie-watching, by e.coli, by the spectre of “carbs”, by gluten intolerance, by locavore whatever, by celebrity-cooking-reality shows. American food was simpler. Trashy foods were not considered trashy and little apps like Pigs in Blanket were considered, well…inventive. We didn’t have to think so much about our food killing us and we could scarf a couple of fatty morsels and down it with a cup of Tang without much thought. Back then we had more latitude to eat a few nitrate-laden goodies. Our kids walked and ran and played and weren’t as fat as they are now. No video games, a lot less TV, no computer, no iPod.
All our current notions of “healthy” eating reject stuff like Pigs in Blanket, but personally I love food like this. Even simple foods have stories and emotion all tied up with them. And these stories are deeply personal. Pigs in Blanket means something to someone — a memory of a ball game snack, a pot-luck dinner at Aunt Hazel’s, a clumsy first date meal, something. If you don’t have a specific memory for Pigs in Blanket, create one now. Make it for your kid. Don’t eat too much, don’t get your kids hooked on crap, but make something simple and easy and well, dumb, for a change.
And this recipe is one of the dumbest ever.
You will need:
A package of cocktail wieners
A package of refrigerated easy-bake crescent rolls
|Two dumb ingredients.|
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Open the can of crescent roll dough. (I love the compressed air-release “hiss” as you peel back the tab!) Unroll the dough and cut into strips. Roll these strips around each mini hot dog. Place piggies on a sheet pan, lined if you like with parchment paper. I like to spray the piggies with a bit of Pam just before putting them in the oven. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until browned. Eat with ketchup and mustard.
|Turning “dogs” into “pigs”. Very complicated alchemy at work.|
That’s about it. It’s basic. And it’s kinda yummy.
|Pigs lined up for the oven.|