1940s Recipes + Menus

Bachelor's Defense

The Way We Cooked: Vintage Gourmet

August 1942

You begin with a pound of ground beef, and it doesn't have to be the expensive variety, either. Put it in a deep skillet, and brown it in a tablespoon of hot olive oil, or in any one of the good substitutes. Then add a can of tomatoes, a small can of tomato paste, a bay leaf, two cloves garlic chopped very fine, salt, pepper, and cayenne, dried parsley leaves and dried celery leaves (just a pinch of each), and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Let this mixture simmer for at least an hour (two or three hours are better), adding water if necessary. But add as little as possible, for when the mixture cools, it should set almost into a paste.

The going so far is not very difficult, and neither is the next step, which is to boil a package of farfale, that cross between macaroni and noodles which looks like a correctly knotted white tie, salting the water heavily and throwing in a beef bouillon cube. The cooking will take 15 to 20 minutes for this particular type of pasta.

Now butter the inside of a baking dish, and put in a deep layer of the farfale. Sprinkle it with grated Parmesan cheese. Then put in your ground meat, tomato, and what-have-you mixture. Sprinkle again with grated cheese. Cover with the rest of the farfale, and arrange fairly thick slices of good American cheese to cover the top. And put the whole thing in the refrigerator.

At any convenient time before cooking, mix thoroughly a cup of tomato juice, two cups milk, an egg, and 1 tablesppon flour; then strain the mixture into your dish of farfale and meat through a fine wire strainer, just in case there might be some lumps. And set the whole thing aside again.

A little more than half an hour before you hope to serve it, put your farfale dish into a hot oven. By the time the cheese is browned, the dish is more than hot all through. And if you have to turn off the oven to keep it from browning too much while you serve another round of drinks, or the soup, dont worry—it holds heat like lava. Serve it in the dish in which it was baked, adding grated Parmesan cheese to each portion as it is dished out.

This exclusive recipe is pulled directly from Gourmet's archive. It has not been re-tested by our food editors since it was published in the magazine, but it's a pretty good indication of the kinds of things we once cooked—and ate—with great pleasure.

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