Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wine Club - A Dinner on the Baltimore & Ohio

It is a bygone era.  When rail was king and pretty much the principal means by which one could travel long distances.  During the height of its reign, railroads like the Baltimore & Ohio strived to provide passengers with the best experience that one could on the rails.  One important aspect of that experience involved food.  

That experience unfolded on the dining cars.  From the 1920s until the 1970s, the B&O railroad used dining cars on many of its lines, such as the Capitol Limited, which ran from Washington, D.C. to Chicago, Illinois.  A dining car usually had a crew of six: two cooks, three waiters and a steward.  It was their job to prepare meals from scratch for dozens of guests.  The fact that the cooks could prepare those dishes from what could be best described as cramped quarters, while servers brought the food out to guests while the train was moving, meant that these individuals had to be very skilled at their jobs.  

For our next wine club, we will be trying to recreate a three-course dinner aboard the famous Capitol Limited.  If you took that train from Washington to Chicago, you would have had the opportunity to try dishes from the Chesapeake region.  Each one of these courses is selected from the book, Dining on the Railroad, which uses original recipes used by the cooks, with additional explanation and tips to help make the dishes in one's home.

APPETIZER
A Duo - B&O Egg Sandwich and Crab Flake Salad

The first course is actually two dishes.  First, we start with the B&O Railroader's favorite ... the B&O Egg Sandwich.  The recipe comes from Grafton, West Virginia, where there was a signal tower where the railroader who worked there ate the sandwich every day for lunch.  Second, we will serve a crab flake salad, which will take jumbo lump crab marinated overnight and served over lettuce with crackers.  We are going to take a different approach to this recipe, foregoing the mayonnaise based sauce for a vinegar marinade, based upon the recipe for a West Indies Salad

MAIN COURSE
Chicken Maryland

This recipe dates back to the 1960s.  It is a recipe traditionally made with a half chicken per order. We will probably use just chicken breasts or quarters, but, if I feel ambitious, I might just break down a bunch of chickens.   The chicken could be baked or fried, but, in our case will most likely be baked.  The chicken is served with a bechamel or cream sauce and a couple strips of bacon.  We'll finish the dish as it was served on the B&O Railroad ... with a corn fritter. 

DESSERT
Banana Snack Bread with Banana Ice Cream

Bananas were big on the B&O (little known fact ... bananas were a major import that came through Baltimore).  We will end the night with a double banana dessert - a banana snack bread (loaded with bananas and walnuts) with banana ice cream.

As always, recipes are subject to change.  We will see you soon!

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