A mid-century recipe is just slightly more fun with a strange name.
This, for example, looks like “insane pasta chicken corn casserole,” but Del Monte’s marketing department felt that “chicken cornetti” would be a much more appealing name…
- 1 (4-lb.) stewing chicken cut up
- 4 cups (1-lb.) broken spaghetti
- 2 cups finely sliced celery
- 1/4 cup chopped green pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped onions
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 to 3 12-oz. cans DEL MONTE Golden Whole Kernel Corn
- 1/2 to 1 cup stuffed or ripe olives
- 1/2 lb. pimiento cheese, cubed
- Simmer chicken, covered, in boiling salted water (about 6 cups) until tender, about 2 to 3 hrs. Cool. Remove meat from bones; cut in large pieces. Measure broth; add enough hot water to make 6 cups liquid. Bring to boil; add spaghetti, chicken, celery, green pepper, onions, paprika. Cook 15 to 20 min. Add 1 can of the corn, the olives and cheese; cook 5 min. longer. Taste; add more salt if necessary. Serve wreathed with the rest of the Del Monte Corn, heated and seasoned, either on a hot platter or in the same utensil in which dish was cooked. Edge with thin slices of green pepper, if desired. Serves 10 to 12.
So there were two things about this recipe that struck me as extremely unusual. (Yes, besides the olives, corn, spaghetti, and cheese.)
First: we are making chicken broth from scratch but seasoning it with nothing but salt. I make a damn good chicken broth, and it calls for all kinds of veggies and herbs to help it rise above “water with chicken flavor dissolved in it.”
Second: This is a freakin’ retro recipe. I thought they were all about saving time by opening cans, especially recipes invented by a canned food company. Nope, I just boiled a chicken for three hours and then spent thirty minutes salvaging meat from the bones. Not pretty, and not fast.
And then I have to dump it all back into the pot… with spaghetti and vegetables.
Pimiento cheese, by the way, doesn’t come in cubes. It is a spread/dip, made of cheddar and cream cheese and pimiento and other magic. So we just dropped in a half pound glob of it and then felt really sorry for subjecting the delicious pimiento cheese to… well, everything else in this pot.
And then I dumped it in a dish and made Buzz eat it.
“This just looks hilarious.”
The kids, meanwhile, were staring at their plates like — well, like I’d just served them chicken cornetti and told them that’s what we’re having for dinner.
“Whoa, is it that bad?”
There was a long pause.
“No… actually, it works.”
And at this point the kids took bites too, and everybody scarfed it down and asked for seconds.
Verdict: Tasty. (Yeah, we’re surprised too.)
Somehow, everything manages to play well together. It’s creamy and interesting, with a lot of diverse flavors that all balance out. I have no idea how the hell you’d create this recipe in the first place, because it’s completely insane, but it works!
I think if I were served that I’d be a bit dubious too. Your children are becoming as brave as Hubby! I’ll have to try it with Tofurky. Will post if successful.
This is eerily reminiscent of a recipe on the Pionerr Woman’s web site called “Chicken Spagetti”, which is quite good. Although hers doesn’t have corn. I would try it!
Back in the day, every housewife boiled a chicken during the week and used it for all sorts of meals. I remember my mother doing that. Today we go get a rotisserie chicken at the store and call it done.
I think this has potential…maybe if you sautéed the onions and peppers (maybe hot peppers instead of bell peppers!) first instead of just boiling them, and maybe some cream cheese instead of/in addition to the pimiento cheese. I’d try it. (Sans olives though. I hate olives). Too bad my husband absolutely can’t stand corn, he would be horrified if I tried to serve him something with 2 whole cans of corn in it!
I think any protein would work well as long as it’s relatively sturdy! All the old Del Monte recipes I’ve ever tried look completely absurd but taste good — I don’t know how they manage it.
We typically boil a chicken to make broth maybe once a month or so, and then use the meat for chicken salad. The rotisserie chicken is a terrific modern alternative, the only thing you don’t get from it is the broth!
Pimiento cheese spread is cream cheese and cheddar (and a bit of spices). It’s a great combination of creaminess and flavor!
I just looked it up and you’re right — WOW. Right down to boiling the chicken from scratch… but with a lot less corn, hahaha.
I know I’m a little late to the table here but pimento cheese was originally cream cheese with Spanish pimiento in it and was sold in blocks. The cheddar/may/spice spread came later. I just recently learned this. Perhaps at the time this recipe was written it was the simpler product.
The canned food was convenient because the housewife was able to make dishes with fruits and veggies year round. Stewing chickens are hard to find now (older bird-explains why it was boiled) but were common in the 1950’s. A housewife did not have a regular job so she had the time to prepare this.
The stock would be pretty weak if a regular chicken was used.
Just found your web site – looks like fun.
Pimiento cheese was a variation of cream cheese (cream cheese with some pimientos mixed in) and was sold in blocks just like regular cream cheese. It was used to stuff celery stalks, mostly, in my family. It was not the same as the dip called pimiento cheese, which is what you describe.