1950’s Roast Dinner (HFF #5)

Getting back on track, the fifth prompt for the Historical Food Fortnightly was “Roasts“.

They’re a staple of the historic table, in many different shapes and forms and types. It’s also a cooking technique. Try a historic recipe for a roast, or a recipe that involves roasting, and tell us how it turned out.

For this one I laid out quite the spread…1950’s style!


The dinner recipes came from “Betty Crocker’s Good and Easy Cook Book” published in 1954. It’s a very sweet, little book full of colorful photos and highly stylized illustrations.

I made the “Roast Pork Dinner” from page 102 with a few modifications. First: mashed potatoes instead of brown. And, second: we skipped dessert. There was plenty of food to go around that night!

One of the most fun things about prepping the dinner was making the vegetable tray. Or, “vegetable relishes” as the cook book called it.

I perused the list on page 92 and picked from it based on what was already in the fridge. That ended up necessitating a few substitutions.

I was able to make “Cucumber Petals” (actually zucchini), “Lake Louie Poppies,” “Broccoli Buds,” and (unstuffed) “Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes.”

Mashed potatoes I made without a recipe and the cream gravy came together rather quickly despite the fact that I had hardly any pan drippings to use.

The food got excellent reviews and was plenty to feed five people; we had leftovers for lunch the next day.

One of the most interesting things about serving this dinner is that it included applesauce on the side. I have many memories of meals at my grandparents’ house featuring applesauce which, as a kid, I always thought was weird. Growing up, applesauce was usually a lunch (or snack) food. Seems to me it could be a generational trend. How do you, or your family, interpret applesauce? Lunch or diner food? Has it changed over time for you?

The Challenge: Roasts
The Recipe: Roast Pork Dinner from “Betty Crocker’s Good and Easy Cook Book”
The Date/Year and Region: 1954, American
How Did You Make It: Roast the meat; mash the potatoes; prepare the vegetable tray; make the gravy; serve it with applesauce and voila!
Time to Complete: 2+ hours
Total Cost: Roast was about $6, veggies about $6 altogether
How Successful Was It?: Very delicious!!
How Accurate Is It?: Pretty high on the accuracy scale. Even equipment was very similar to what was around in the 1950’s.

(Recipes transcribed under the cut)


Roast Pork Dinner

  • Roast Pork
  • Applesauce
  • Browned Potatoes
  • Cream Gravy
  • Baked Whole Carrots
  • Assorted Vegetable Relishes
  • Spice Cake

Roast Pork:

Heat oven to 350° (mod.). Have backbone cut loose or removed. Season. Place, fat side up, in roasting pan. Do not add water; do not cover; do not baste. Roast 30 min. per lb. See Leftovers (200-205) for second meal uses.

Pan Gravy:

Pan Gravy is rich with the natural meat fats left in the pan after cooking roasts, steaks, chops, roasted and fried chicken.

For each cup of medium gravy:

  • 2 tbsp. fat
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup liquid (water, meat stock, or bullion)

Remove meat or poultry to warm place. Pour off fat; measure amount needed back into pan. Add level tablespoons of flour. Use equal amounts of flour and fat. Stir fat and flour together until smooth, then cook over low heat, stirring steadily until it’s bubbly and brown. Take from heat, stir in liquid slowly. Always measure liquid – too much weakens flavor. Return pan to heat, stirring and scraping in the rich drippings. Boil 1 min., season and serve.

Hints on Making Gravy:

Pan Gravy:

For improved flavor, cook meat with some of these: bay leaf, peppercorns, onion, garlic, celery salt or any favorite seasoning.

For thin gravy, use 1 tbsp. each flour and fat for each cup liquid.

For thick gravy, use 3 tbsp. each flour and fat for each cup liquid.

To make cream gravy for chicken or chops, use milk for part of liquid.

Fresh Vegetable Relishes

A large bowl partly filled with crushed ice, and with fresh vegetable tidbits arranged on top, makes one of the best, easiest and most attractive of dinner appetizers.

One of the Cream Cheese Spreads (p. 93) is delicious, though not essential, with crisp appetizers.

Be sure your vegetables are fresh and perfect. Keep them crisp in ice water or in your refrigerator until serving time.

For Your Relish Bowl

Radishes: Scrub and serve, leaving a couple of green leaves attached to each.

Celery Hearts: Save coarse outer stalks for soup; peel root end. Then quarter and slice the quarters lengthwise, leaving some heart with each piece.

Cucumber Petals: Run a sharp tined fork down the length of an unpeeled cucumber. Cut thin slices crosswise; chill in ice water. Sprinkle with minced parsley.

Carrot Sticks: Cut carrots in narrow, lengthwise strips. Chill in damp cloth.

Carrot Cheese Sticks: Dip ends of carrot sticks into softened cream cheese. Sprinkle with minced parsley.

Cauliflowerets: Break head of raw cauliflower into bite-size flowerets. Chill, crisp and serve.

Lake Louise Poppies: Slice carrots lengthwise paper thin. Chill in ice water until crisp and curled. Draw sprig of parsley or watercress through curl, or place ripe olive in center.

Spring or Green Onions: Trim off green stalks (save for soup), leaving about 2″. Cut off root ends and remove loose skin. Wrap in damp cloth; chill.

Turnip Sticks in Olive Rings: Cut sticks from peeled white turnips. Chill in ice water. Draw through ready pitted ripe olives.

Broccoli Buds: Break head of raw broccoli into bite-size floweretes. Serve chilled and crisp.

Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes: Remove centers from tiny cherry tomatoes. Fill with softened cream cheese. Top with Parsley.

*Crocker, Betty. Betty Crocker’s Good and Easy Cook Book. First ed. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1954. Print.



3 thoughts on “1950’s Roast Dinner (HFF #5)

  1. Applesauce goes with pig meat meals. The thought of eating a pork chop without applesauce? It literally makes me tear cupboards apart and cry. Pork can often be very dry, and so the applesauce adds some needed moisture. Also, it’s delicious. And there are many apple + squash things as another take on apple for dinner.

    But yeah, I have a hard time eating the applesauce I make because I don’t make pork very often. I usually resort to baking with it. 🙂

    But that looks SOOOOO tasty. I want to reach through the screen and nom.


    1. That makes so much sense! I’m glad you knew the reason behind the pairing; now it doesn’t seem so out of the blue. Haha.
      I’ll have to try purposefully baking with some and see what it does; I’ve used it once or twice before in a pinch and don’t really remember how things turned out.


      1. It’s a baking substitute for egg. Same as mashed banana+oil or mayonaise. Baking purposes only, obviously. Scrambled applesauce just isn’t the same. 🙂



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