Last Christmas a friend bought me Ina Garten’s the barefoot contessa cookbook.  The recipe for Lamb Sausage in Puff Pastry caught my eye. The introduction to the recipe explained that it’s one of her classic catering appies.  She pulls it out when the husband wants pigs-in-a-blanket but the wife wants something more sophisticated (not to mention tasty).

I’ve never been a fan of wieners, so my plan for PIAB day never included a classic recipe.  Until I found out what a truly classic recipe entailed…
As it turns out, dishes named Pigs-in-a-blanket (or is that blankets, plural?) were around long before the name became associated with wienies in biscuit dough.  The earliest recorded recipe is from the ’30s and calls for wrapping oysters in bacon and broiling them.  Another incarnation of the recipe calls for coring potatoes and stuffing sausages in the holes before baking them.  The piggies as we know them didn’t appear in print until the ’50s.

Our modern definition isn’t universal, by the way.  In the UK, PIAB are little sausages wrapped in bacon.  The name is less commonly applied to other dishes as well, including cabbage rolls.

I decided to kill two pigs with one blog, so I made some bacon oysters as well as my Garten-inspired sausage dish.  I followed her recipe pretty closely, but didn’t slice the lengths into appy-sized pieces.  I used lamb Merguez sausages, in part for their slender shape.  I baked them and cooled them.  Then I rolled the puff pastry out, squeezed on some dijon, and rolled up the sausages.  After a quick egg wash they were ready for the oven.

I mixed up a grainy/dijon mustard for the sausages, finished the oysters with a cilantro pesto,  and rounded out the meal with sauteed kale and homemade cauliflower soup.  All together, they were a pretty motley crew.


Back to the oysters for a moment: an alternative name for the dish, especially when served on toast, is “Angels on Horseback”, not to be confused with “Devils on Horseback”, in which a prune replaces the oyster.  Who knew that my study of the humble wienie dish would lead to such a bizarre history of appetizers?

~Sage

* Piggy photo courtesy of pennywellfarm.co.uk

** As usual, thanks foodtimeline.org!

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